After a spirited competition that lasted all of fall camp, Vanderbilt has named Patton Robinette the starting quarterback for the opener.
The announcement came just one week before the Commodores will take the field at Vanderbilt Stadium against Temple on Thursday (8:15 p.m., SEC Network).
"I'm excited for Patton as we prepare this team for the season opener next Thursday," Coach Derek Mason said in a statement. "Patton has really made strides and consistently improved from the spring to now. I believe he has worked to earn this opportunity."
Robinette won a three-man race with redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary and LSU transfer Stephen Rivers to be the replacement for graduated starter Austyn Carta-Samuels.
The coach also praised the effort and commitment from McCrary and Rivers.
"We have three solid guys at the position now, along with the talented freshmen. Johnny and Stephen are very capable quarterbacks and both worked hard to make a strong case for the starting role. They made this a difficult decision," Mason said.
McCrary posted a picture on his Instagram (@bigdaddyindonesia) two hours before the official announcement that included the caption "REDSHIRT TO 3RD STRING QB…"
By choosing to go with Robinette, Mason is going with the one quarterback on the roster with starting experience at the college level.
Robinette started games against Florida, Texas A&M and Houston last season. He led the Commodores to a win over Georgia in relief of an injured Carta-Samuels, quarterbacked a win over the Gators in The Swamp and also ran in the game-winning touchdown against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium last November.
He also has had the opportunity to go through both spring and fall camp with McCrary in offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell's new scheme, whereas Rivers was only able to compete in the fall.
Robinette offers more of a rushing threat from the quarterback position than McCrary or Rivers. As a redshirt freshman, the former Maryville standout scored a rushing touchdown in seven of the Commodores' final eight contests, which ranked him second on the team behind running back Jerron Seymour (14).
But questions were raised about Robinette's abilities as a passer after Vanderbilt's win over Houston in January's BBVA Compass Bowl. He completed just 6 of 19 pass attempts with a pair of interceptions, and completed just one pass to a receiver other than Jordan Matthews.
And though the Commodores beat Florida in Gainesville for the first time since 1945 with Robinette under center, he threw for just 57 yards on 6 of 12 passing.
Robinette's best statistical passing performance came in a blowout loss at Texas A&M last October. He completed 15 of 28 passes for a career-high 216 yards, but also had a pair of interceptions in the 56-24 loss.
Robinette's completion percentage (52.3) and efficiency rating (117.19) ranked well below that of Carta-Samuels last season (68.7, 142.99).