Daunting task: College coaches face huge challenge in trying to establish depth at quarterback

Published: Friday, April 25 2014 8:25 p.m. MDT

“I question the young man who doesn’t want to compete,” Christensen said. “I want a guy who is the best and who wants to come in and compete. That’s a very good sign.”

The key is keeping that competition healthy.

This season, Utah has impressive depth at quarterback, accompanied by significant questions. Last year’s starter, Travis Wilson, won’t know if he’s cleared for contact until July after an MRI last fall revealed an old injury to an intracranial artery, ending his season early.

Ute sophomore Adam Schulz said as a player with no offers coming out of high school, he had to look at a team’s quarterback situation when he tried to find a place to play as a walk-on.

“I’m from Wisconsin, so I looked at the Big Ten,” he said. “Wisconsin had five or six quarterbacks. I ended up walking on here because there were three. Less quarterbacks and more of an opportunity. ... You don’t want to go some place where they have six or seven quarterbacks. It hurts your chances regardless of how good you are.”

But he said it’s more complicated than just choosing a place with a thin quarterback lineup.

“You have to look at the best opportunity, where you’re the most comfortable and what’s the best place for you,” he said. And then a player has to be confident in his own abilities, which Schulz, who had limited playing time in his sophomore year after Wilson’s injury, said he has.

“You have to have a healthy competition,” he said. “You can’t have someone who is just trying to take out the competition.”

Brandon Cox, a freshman, and Conner Manning, a redshirt freshman, said they all learn from each other and share information, even while they’re trying to outplay each other for a shot at more repetitions in practice and games.

“The main thing is just to work hard and try to make the most of what you’ve got,” Cox said. “When you have depth like we do at quarterback, the hardest part is just trying to get everybody reps.”

He said they don’t see each other as enemies to be defeated.

“We don’t look at it as, like we’re trying to fight for (Wilson’s) job,” Cox said. “We’re a group, we’re all one team, so we try to make everybody better.”

Would he consider transferring if he doesn’t get playing time in the near future?

“I’m here to compete,” he said. “I think I can. I’m here to get better every day. I can’t control how many reps I get or anything like that. I’m doing what I can do, and doing it the best I can do it.”

Schulz said the brotherhood that defines football is a bond quarterbacks share, regardless of their role on the team. Like Jason Beck and John Beck, they work to make each other better and try not to worry about how or when they’ll finally get in a game.

The one thing a successful program can’t have is athletes who sabotage or refuse to support each other.

“We’ve never had that here," said Schulz. "Jordan (Wynn) and Jon (Hays), they always taught me. They’re your brothers at the end of the day, and it’s whoever is best who will play.”

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