Triple Option: QB Battle Heats Up at Spring Practice

By: Bryce Caputo, Contributor

Spring practice is drawing to a close and with the scrimmage less than a week away, one question has yet to be answered: Who will be the Paladins’ starting quarterback for the 2019 season?

“It’ll be one of those three guys,” Furman head coach Clay Hendrix said of redshirt freshmen Darren Grainger and Hamp Sisson and redshirt sophomore Jack Hardin.

To say these three candidates have big shoes to fill is an understatement. Reese Hannon, QB from 2012 to 2016, holds the Furman record for most career passing yards with 7,740. P.J. Blazejowski, who played from 2014 to 2017, follows behind Hannon in sixth place, with 4,942 yards. Their successor, Harris Roberts, Furman’s most recent starting QB, helped the Paladins win the Southern Conference title last season. None of the current candidates for the starting spot have seen the field for more than four games in their respective careers.

Due to a new rule added to the 2018 season that allows players to participate in a maximum of four games and still retain their redshirt and extra year of eligibility, the freshmen quarterbacks gained a bit of experience while still earning a fifth year. Grainger saw action in four games, Clemson, Elon, ETSU and Samford, and gained a total of 281 yards. Sisson played in two games, The Citadel and VMI, and gained a total of 28 yards. Hardin has served two seasons as a member of the scout team.

“They all have ability and understand what we’re trying to get done,” coach Hendrix said. Each morning they have practiced, the three quarterbacks have polished their skills and competed for that starting spot.

“It’s great competition,” Grainger said. “Every day, we get better.”

“It’s an open battle,” Hardin said.

“It’s really exciting,” Sisson said. “All three guys in the quarterback room are great friends. We love each other. The team is going to be in good hands, no matter what.”

With six months to prepare for their first game against Charleston Southern, the three candidates still have time to improve their techniques. “They’ll continue to get better,” quarterback coach George Quarles said.

Regardless of the decision, the quarterback trio agrees on two things: they plan on winning another SoCon Championship title next season, and all three of them will be prepared to take the field in August. Only one of them can start first.

“I don’t think that will be decided in 15 days of spring practice,” coach Hendrix said, “probably not until we get into a couple of weeks in August. It’s a good situation to be in. It’ll be good competition.”

The three candidates for the starting spot, along with the rest of the team, will have a chance to compete and show their progress at the spring scrimmage at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23.

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