Sophomore Clayton Moore, a junior-college transfer from Mississippi, has been named the starting quarterback at the University of Akron.
Moore won the job over returning starter Patrick Nicely in a duel that started in spring practice and continued for 2› weeks in preseason camp.
Moore said coach Rob Ianello told him before practice on Tuesday.
“I was relieved. I put a lot of hard work into this,” Moore said after practice Tuesday. “Since I came to Akron, my first goal was to become the starter.
“I have accomplished that. So my next goal is to win a game. After we win, my next goal is to win another game. I like having goals.”
Ianello said that he made the decision based on talks with offensive coordinator John Latina and passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus.
“We chart everything in training camp. We looked at everything,” Ianello said. “Clayton made some big plays in competitive situations. We liked that about him.”
Ianello said that Nicely, a junior, will be working with the second unit, and he still has confidence in him.
“Patrick really improved from last season. He improved in the spring. He improved in the fall,” Ianello said. “We are in a lot better shape at the quarterback position than we have been in the last 20 months.
“I spoke with both of them and told them we need both of them. Both will play this fall as we go through the course of the season.”
Moore was the Mississippi 3A offensive player of the year as a junior in 2007 after leading Louisville (Miss.) High School to a state championship. He threw for 3,036 yards and 30 touchdowns.
In the summer between his junior and senior seasons, he gave an oral commitment to the University of Mississippi.
However, his senior year was marred by minor injuries and a verbal altercation with his high school coach that led to his dismissal from the team. Mississippi later pulled its scholarship offer. He decided to walk on at Mississippi in 2009, but never played in a game.
Moore then transferred to Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College, where he completed 155-of-257 passes for 2,395 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2010.
Moore then made it known that he wished to attend a four-year college and began the recruiting process again. Powlus and Ianello led the Zips’ recruiting effort, and Moore picked UA over Wyoming and Louisiana-Lafayette.
Moore signed in December 2010, enrolled at UA in January and participated in spring practice.
He said he had trouble adjusting to the Zips’ pro-style offense, in which the quarterback is usually under center, after playing the spread in high school and junior college, in which the quarterback usually is in the shotgun.
“It was rough here at first. In the spring, there were times, literally, after practice that I said I didn’t think I could run this offense because it is so different,” Moore said. “It has taken a lot of work to learn it.”
The 6-foot-4 Nicely, a product of Willoughby South High School, started the last seven games of the 2009 season after starter Chris Jacquemain was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules and back-up Matt Rodgers suffered a knee injury.
He completed 120-of-226 passes for 1,349 yards and six touchdowns.
In 2010, he started all 12 games for the 1-11 Zips. He completed 166-of-336 passes for 1,753 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Some of the most competitive position battles are on special teams.
At kicker, junior T.J. Marchese, freshman Robert Stein and freshman A.J. Fox are in contention.
On kickoffs, sophomore Kevin Ivasku (Copley), Stein and Fox remain candidates.
The two kickoff returners will come from junior safety Josh Richmond, sophomore receiver Antoine Russell and freshman Tyler Williams.
“I don’t think we have to decide on any of them until game week,” said Ianello, meaning next week.
Two players have been ruled out of the Sept. 3 opener against Ohio State.
Senior linebacker Matt Little, who was seventh on the team in tackles last season, is out with a foot injury. He was wearing a boot on his left foot Tuesday at practice.
Sophomore cornerback Bill Alexander, who made one start last season (Western Michigan) is out with a collarbone injury. His right arm was in a sling Tuesday.
Radio, TV news
Former Zips lineman Andy Alleman will not be back in the radio booth this season. He has accepted a sales position out of town. UA officials are conducting a search for a replacement to join Steve French and Joe Dunn, and expect to make an announcement later this week. … Former Bowling Green, Utah and Florida coach Urban Meyer will be the color commentator on the Zips’ game at Ohio State on Sept. 3. Meyer is rumored to be one of the possible replacements at OSU if interim coach Luke Fickell is not retained. Former Buckeyes linebacker Chris Spielman will be the sideline reporter.