Six quarterbacks graced the field for the University of Akron on the first day of preseason camp Friday at InfoCision Stadium.
When the 95-degree temperature that drenched the players in sweat Friday eventually gives as practices progress, just two will be fighting for the starting job against the University of Central Florida come Aug. 30.
Coach Terry Bowden named Dalton Williams the Zips starter just a couple of weeks ago, making him the favorite to finish camp that way.
“It’s really no change. It doesn’t change your day-to-day,” Williams said of his status. “It doesn’t change your outlook. You go out every day to get better, and you take it one day at a time.”
Perhaps he’s cautious because he knows that he has still has to duel with 6-foot-3 sophomore Kyle Pohl. Bowden qualifies this position battle as being nip-and-tuck.
Pohl doesn’t hesitate to concede that it’s exciting to be in the conversation to be the team’s starting quarterback.
“It’s exciting because I’ve come a long way from last year and being a redshirt and not doing much but holding a clipboard,” he said.
Pohl wears the confidence of a potential starter, throwing the ball accurately, crisply and without hesitation on the first day. It’s important, however, to remember there’s a long way to go until the Zips kick off the season.
Williams, months removed from arriving on the UA campus, projects the same. But there’s a noticeable difference as well as he takes his turn in practice.
As a senior, he yells to his teammates to remember how they worked on things independently before camp officially began. He puts teammates into position and constantly offers encouragement, something not evident back in March. It’s called leadership.
“I’m settled in now. I’m here now and I’m part of the team. They’ve accepted me, so yeah, I am more comfortable,” he said.
“I think there’s a pecking order and a reasonable time to work your way into the team’s confidence level and the inner team,” he said. “I think his hard work in the spring and especially in the offseason has earned him that leadership opportunity.”
Still the job remains almost up for grabs, and Bowden likes what he has seen of Pohl, also.
“Every day he gets a lot better and the senior has to fight really hard because in a lot of ways, you’re at your peak. Eventually it will be one-on-one battle,” he said.
Still Pohl knows that he has to take the job.
“He’s a very good quarterback, so I have to prove that I can think as fast and as well as he can,” he said.
Williams and Pohl had nothing but kind words to say about departed teammate Clayton Moore, who decided to leave rather than not have a shot at playing quarterback this season. Moore started 11 games for the Zips last season.
Pohl said that he learned a lot from Moore during his first season at UA and that he will miss him.
Although he didn’t have a lot of time with the former teammate, Williams felt the same.
“Anytime you lose one of your brothers in the locker room, it’s difficult. He was a good friend and a friend to a lot of guys in the locker room,” he said.
The other four quarterbacks in camp are Steve Franco, Marcus Prather, Daniel Harding and Dalton Easton.
The Beacon Journal confirmed that defensive end C.J. James, a former member of the Colorado State Rams, is on campus taking classes and after sitting out a year, will be eligible to finish his college career with the Zips. Bowden said James transferred because he wanted to continue playing for defensive line coach Todd Stroud.
Defensive end/linebacker Jamel Turner, a former four-star recruit from Youngstown’s Ursuline High School for Ohio State in 2008, will be eligible and able to play in about a week, Bowden said.
Freshman cornerback DeAndre Scott didn’t report for the first day of camp. Bowden said that he wanted to play with his brother at a Division II school. ... Receiver A.J. Price was ruled academically ineligible for football.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.