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Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Utah State safeties and special teams coach Jeff Copp, left, has his head polished by linebacker Daryl Fields at Romney Stadium on Tuesday.

LOGAN — Sitting in the conference room at the new athletic training facility north of Utah State's Romney Stadium was a white board with a preseason depth-chart of the Aggie football team.

Atop the quarterback position is the name of Jase McCormick, the junior who led Northridge High to two state championships.

USU coach Brent Guy, as soon as he can get around to it, will be updating that list. First, though, he has to figure out who to put in the top spot.

"Quarterback is our skinniest position right now," Guy said, noting McCormick decided to end his football playing days and quit the team.

The Aggies, with more than 100 players in camp for the first time since Guy arrived three seasons ago, have only three scholarship quarterbacks available. And among those players there is a whopping one pass attempt in the stat books.

So, Guy admitted Tuesday during the team's annual media day as camp opened, the competition for the starting job is wide open.

Senior Sean Setzer — who happened to throw that sole pass, a 2-yard completion against Boise State — is joined by former wide receiver Diondre Borel and true freshman Exavier Johnson in a battle to decide who will line up behind center against UNLV in the season opener on Aug. 30.

Three days into camp, Guy is still not sure who will start, though he admits Setzer has the upper hand based solely on his being in the system for a year now and being more mature. Johnson, though, has impressed the Aggie coaches with his athleticism and potential.

"Exavier has made a lot of progress and has a lot of talent," Guy said. "We're certainly pleased with the talent we have at quarterback."

But having only three players to choose from leaves USU with precious little wiggle room. In fact, one of Guy's biggest concerns is getting another quarterback in camp to run the scout team. Redshirt freshman Ben Longshore chose to serve an LDS mission and did not report this year. Robert Fuller, another freshman quarterback, has yet to get the green light from the NCAA clearinghouse and is waiting to join the team.

All three QBs currently in camp want the job when the Aggies face the Rebels.

"I don't allow myself to think too much about competition," Setzer, a senior from Oregon by way of Garden City Junior College, said. "I prepare like I'm a starter every day."

Johnson, likewise, hopes to find himself starting but knows he has some catching up to do in regards to learning the system.

"You know you've got to work your way up, learn the system," Johnson, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Van Nuys, Calif., said. "I look forward to it. Once you're up, you've got to keep working to stay in the spot."

Borel, a speedy sophomore, may be the third option at this point, but his athleticism gives USU a different feel when he directs the team.

Whoever is eventually named the starter — Guy said he will select one player on Aug. 18 in order to prepare for UNLV two weeks later — the Aggies know they need more production than they have seen in recent seasons.

"We've made a decision that we need to be more aggressive on offense this year," offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey said. "We've kind of been limited in what we've been able to do because of our personnel. But this year, I expect our quarterback to be better just because the offensive players around him are more experienced and better."

Even with virtually no experience at quarterback, Dickey said he won't dummy down the offense this year.

"We won't be vanilla," he said. "We've got to have more faith in our offense to get the job done, no matter who we are playing against.

"Right now," Dickey added, "all three of the guys have a little bit of a gunslinger attitude. So we want to see what they can get done."

First up, though, is figuring out how to reorganize that three-deep with only three quarterbacks.


E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com