Photo by Lance Winter
Texas State quarterback battle expected to grind throughout camp
Zak Kuhr wanted to make sure it didn’t come across as coach speak, rather, he truly believes Texas State’s quarterback battle will grind throughout training camp.
The second-year offensive coordinator, who’s taking over as the Bobcats’ sole offensive coordinator after last year’s co-OC Parker Fleming left for Ohio State, believes each of Texas State’s quarterbacks are squarely in the race.
“With (quarterback) coach (Brett) Elliott, the way he grades them, the best man is going to win,” Khur said on the battle between sophomore Willie Jones III, redshirt freshman Jaylen Gipson and freshman Tyler Vitt. “And this isn’t just media hoopla, but they’re damn-near dead even. They’re all within a point of each other. He’s rotated all three with the all the ones and the twos and threes. It’s been even. It’s going to be a grind until the last minute.
Jones has the most experience of the group. The sophomore from Silsbee played in 10 games during his freshman campaign, where he completed 18-of-37 passes for 281 yards and ran for 168 yards on 48 carries. Jones began Saturday’s scrimmage as the starting quarterback. He looked clean on his passes during Texas State’s first scrimmage of training camp.
But Gipson and Vitt both made plays during the scrimmage. Although neither quarterback has taken a collegiate snap, Kuhr is confident in both of them. In fact, he’s comfortable with all three signal callers.
“They all kind of have the same skill set,” Kuhr said at Texas State’s media day on Sunday. “Tyler is a great runner some people may not know that. Everybody has seen Willie run on film and he’s really good, but to be honest, we were out here last Fall and Jaylen Gipson, they raced and Jaylen Gipson beat Willie twice. Tyler has had probably some of the most explosive runs in camp. So, they all have great arms and they can run. So, we don’t have to change up the offense or anything like that.”
Jones, who was the only quarterback chosen to attend Sunday’s media day, said it’s been good to compete for the starting job.
“J-Gip and Tyler Vitt, DJ Bolger, all of them are great athletes that can throw the ball and run the ball,” Jones said. “It’s just been great. They’re great quarterbacks. Like I said, any one of us could be that man and play as the starter.”
When asked if he’d be comfortable taking the starting role, Jones said it wasn’t his call to make.
“I’m not thinking about it,” Jones said. “(I'm just taking it) day by day. Go out there and compete and trust that coach Withers makes the right decision with whoever he thinks out there can feed his family.”
At the beginning of training camp, head coach Everett Withers said leadership will play a big role in deciding who wins the quarterback competition.
“It’s got a lot to do with leadership,” Withers said on Aug. 3. “It’s got a lot to do with the trust that they earn from their teammates. We’ll figure that out. We’ve got three really talented, good kids at those positions. One of them will step up, maybe two will step up, and separate themselves. But we’re not going to push it, or try to speed up the process. We’re going to let it naturally happen.”
Jones said leadership is something he’ll have to continue to work on as the season inches closer.
“I feel like I have a long way to go to become one of the prominent leaders on this team,” Jones said. “I feel like I could be one of the leaders this year. But I just have a long ways to go to learn how to lead and learn how to talk to different groups on the team and stuff like that. I just have a lot of learning to do.”
Whoever wins the battle, Kuhr and Jones will have trust in the starter.
“I feel like anybody in that group can go out and win games for us right now,” Jones said. “It’s just a great group.”