JACKSONVILLE — Six quarterbacks played in Jacksonville State's spring game on Thursday night. A couple more quarterbacks should arrive in Jacksonville in the summer. And you never know what might happen over the next two weeks with the transfer portal opening up.
In this case, when you're talking about Jax State head coach Rich Rodriguez and quarterbacks, too much is almost the same as not enough.
"We got a whole bunch (and) we got a couple more coming in," Rodriguez said on Thursday. "I like to collect quarterbacks. Everybody says, 'Why you have so many quarterbacks?' I got to find at least two that can play well. My odds are better with seven than they are with three, right."
Quarterbacks on the roster right now are redshirt senior Zion Webb, redshirt sophomore Polo Solomon, redshirt freshmen Te'Sean Smoot, Carter Lambert and Ashton Frye and true freshman Earl Woods III. Scheduled to arrive this summer are true freshmen Caden Creel and Cam Vaughn.
They are going to need a lot of chairs in the quarterback room.
Take away Webb, and it's, obviously, a room filled with youth. And there a possibility that Webb will be taken away. The 6-foot, 186-pound Central Phenix City product arrived at Jacksonville State in 2017. He redshirted his first season, played in 17 games as a backup in 2018 and 2019, was the starter in the 2020 fall/2021 spring season, which doesn't count in a player's eligibility clock, and sat out in the fall of 2021 because of an injury. He led the team to the ASUN championship last season. The school has filed a waiver with the NCAA to get another season of eligibility for Webb.
This spring, Webb has been eligible to practice while they wait to hear about the waiver. Webb and Smoot, the only two quarterbacks with any game experience at Jacksonville State, have competed to be the starter.
"(Webb) knows the system better," Rodriguez said. "He's gotten better, and he had to get better. Same with Te'Sean. They both were here last year. This spring, they needed to take another step, and they have. It's a nice competitive environment. I've said this before. I want them not concerned with beating each other out for the starting job, just be good enough to win with. If I got two quarterbacks to win with, I'll play them both. If I got three, I'll play all three. I've done it before. That's where I want their focus to be on."
Smoot is an intriguing prospect. The 6-foot, 170-pound Springfield, Ohio native is a dynamic runner. He had a 16-yard touchdown run in the loss at Tulsa and played in just one other game, thus preserving a redshirt season.
He approached this spring practice with competition in mind.
"I just keep working," Smoot said. "I'm prepared to be the guy, be the person they want to win with, regardless of if he gets the waiver or not. Every day I come to work like I want the job. If he is blessed to get the waiver, then it will make things better. We'll have more depth in the room. We'll have an older guy that can be there to mentor us and help us out a little more. It's going to be a blessing if he does."
During the spring game, Webb was the first quarterback on the field, followed by Smoot. They were clearly a step ahead of the others.
"I do because we only have two black-shirt quarterbacks," Smoot said when asked if he felt like a veteran despite still being a young quarterback. "We're not touched in practice. We run with the 1s and 2s. Coach doesn't consider me a young guy. When he talks to the vets in the room, he's talking to me and (Webb). I'm just blessed with that. I just need to keep working and do anything I can to make the team better."
Rodriguez said he likes his group of quarterbacks but still needs to see improvement as the Gamecocks continue preparation to move to the FBS level as members of Conference USA.
"Those guys got better," Rodriguez said of the entire group. "We put a lot on their plate, our system and all that. We still got to get better throwing the ball. We made some steps in the spring, but this summer is going to be a big summer for our skill guys, especially with the quarterbacks throwing the ball."
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