Temple has an actual quarterback competition.

For the participants, this is all they wanted, a legitimate chance to start in the opener Sept. 2 at Notre Dame. The four candidates are redshirt junior Frank Nutile, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo of Archbishop Wood, and incoming freshman Todd Centeio, who is enrolled in school and participating in spring practice.

Since spring practice began Monday and the Owls have only 14 total practices, nobody has emerged as a favorite to replace four-year starter Phillip Walker, and it might be that way for a while, new offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude suggested.

Nobody knows if Centeio, who is the best runner of the four, will redshirt or not. Marchi has good escapability, but is also seen as having good ability in the pocket. Nutile and Russo are considered more pocket passers.

What all four have in common is a chance to compete for the starting role. Nutile and Marchi have been with Temple a combined five seasons (counting their redshirt seasons) and this is the first time they will be able to legitimately compete for a starting spot. Before this year, Walker was firmly entrenched as the No. 1 quarterback.

With the new opportunity comes pressure. The competition, at least in the early stages, is so tight that every single repetition in practice is dissected.

"You have to go out every day and compete and can't waste a day with the talent we have here," said Marchi, who as a backup attempted six passes last year.

How the players handle this daily scrutiny will determine whom Patenaude and new head coach Geoff Collins choose as the starter.

"It is exciting, pressure is what makes a quarterback, in my opinion," Russo said. "If you can't play under pressure, you are playing the wrong position."

Then he tried to put the pressure in perspective

"There is a lot of pressure, but we are all out here playing the game we love," Russo said.

The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Nutile, a product of New Jersey power Don Bosco Prep, has waited the longest for his chance. He redshirted his first year after suffering a knee injury in summer camp. Over the last two seasons he has attempted a total of five passes.

"With the talent we have, every day you have to bring your best or you lose reps," Nutile said. "You have to attack every day and be ready to go."

Patenaude, who was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the previous five seasons at Coastal Carolina, said he planned to have one quarterback. While he doesn't believe in a two-quarterback system, he might use a second to run certain option plays.

Still, the winner of this quarterback derby will be the leader and shouldn't be looking over his shoulder once the No. 1 job is awarded. Until that time, each play in practice could move a player up or down the depth chart.

Temple doesn't publish an actual depth chart this early, and Patenaude won't even hint if anybody has the edge.

"I love the way they are all competing," he said.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard