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Bucs’ quarterback spot still up for grabs

Joe Avento • Aug 8, 2019 at 7:59 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Six practices isn’t enough time to form any permanent impressions, and East Tennessee State football coach Randy Sanders says his team’s quarterback position is still up for grabs.

Several players are vying to replace the graduated Austin Herink. Trey Mitchell and Cameron Lewis, holdovers from last season, join transfers Cade Weldon (Miami) and Chance Thrasher (Coastal Carolina) and three freshmen in trying to get the coaching staff’s attention. None of them have ever taken a snap in an ETSU uniform.

“I’m seeing a few things,” Sanders said Thursday morning after a practice at Greene Stadium. “It’s way too early for me to have my mind made up, and I probably have a better perspective than anybody else because I’m with them every day. I meet with them, I talk with them before plays and after plays, so I probably know what’s in their mind better than anyone else.

“Nothing has separated them at this point, but you’re starting to see what each guy’s all about, what you can expect from them.”

Sanders said he hopes the position begins to clear itself up within a week or so. The team’s first scrimmage is Saturday at 7 p.m at Greene Stadium.

“We’ll see what they can do when they’re truly out there by themselves just playing football,” Sanders said.

The quarterbacks have been kept off-limits to the media so far.

Wide receiver Anthony Spagnoletti says after working with the quarterbacks throughout the summer and seeing them for a week in camp, he’ll have confidence in whomever Sanders chooses to start.

“I know for a fact Coach Sanders is going to pick the right guy,” Spagnoletti said. “He’s a mastermind of a coach. He knows what he’s doing. Whoever it is, I’ll have confidence.”

The Bucs’ preseason roster has 12 wide receivers and eight tight ends. Throw in seven quarterbacks and that creates a lot of different practice combinations.

“When you have so many quarterbacks and so many receivers, you’re constantly going with different dudes, and its hard to get that one-on-one chemistry,” Spagnoletti said. “But that just comes with dedication and working with them. For the most part, we’re getting used to how the quarterbacks throw the ball.

“The competition is really good. We have high expectations and it’s pushing them to do their best. At all times, there’s only one quarterback on the field, so they have to bring their A game.”

As preseason camp enters its second week, Sanders says the first one went about as expected.

“I like what I’m seeing,” he said. “We still have a million miles to go. I love the attitude and I love the energy, but we’re still a work in progress. We can’t have an off day. You might not feel good. Your legs might be tired. Your shoulder may hurt. But when you step out onto the field with pads on, you have to bring it. So far we have done a good job of that.”

The season gets underway Aug. 31 when the Bucs travel to Boone to take on former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State.