Dylan Hopkins will start at quarterback for the UAB Blazers in the September 1 season opener against Alabama A&M at Protective Stadium.
Hopkins, who started the final 10 games in 2021, retained the job by holding off Baylor transfer Jacob Zeno in fall camp. UAB head coach Bryant Vincent has praised both quarterbacks throughout camp.
Vincent said he told the quarterbacks of his decision on Wednesday morning. He officially announced the decision on Wednesday morning during an appearance on “3 Man Front” on WJOX.
“I met with both of them this morning,” Vincent told WJOX. “It was a neck and neck battle. Overall, Dylan just played better. He did some things better. Don’t get me wrong, Jacob Zeno did a lot of great things. Dylan is going to be our starting quarterback and Jacob Zeno will play.”
Hopkins threw for 2,274 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. He was at his best against the toughest teams in the last half of the season, going 47 of 63 for 643 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions against Marshall, UTSA and BYU. He completed all 12 of his passes in the first half of the victory over BYU.
He played the entire 2021 season with an injured left shoulder, suffering the injury in fall camp. He had surgery on the shoulder after the season and added 15 pounds through strength and conditioning. Entering camp, he said he was completely healthy for perhaps the first time since coming to UAB. Being at full health could open more opportunities for Hopkins to run the football. Hopkins can hurt a defense with his legs, he rushed for 163 yards against UTEP in 2019, but didn’t have many called running plays last season because of his shoulder.
Zeno, who is entering his fourth season of college football, also had a strong camp. He pushed Hopkins throughout camp and will have a role on Saturdays. Vincent said before the team’s scrimmage on Saturday that he planned on giving the No. 2 quarterback a weekly role.
In the middle of camp, Vincent commented on the tussle between the top two quarterbacks.
“They just sharpen each other,” Vincent said. “They got a great relationship with each other. They understand it’s about the team, it’s not about them. It’s just fun to watch because they support each other, they push each other and they're great for this team.”
In the end, though, it’s Hopkins' job as the starter.
“It’s been a great battle,” Vincent said. “(Hopkins) had a great June, July and he had a great fall camp. He’s just comfortable. He [has] a sense of calmness about him. Jacob Zeno got in January, went through the spring as the No. 1 guy (with Hopkins out). He’s also had a great fall camp and, man, is he a leader and a warrior and a winner.”
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