For sophomore J.T. Granato, sophomore Jackson Tyner and freshman Sam Glaesmann, spring practice is anything but the offseason. Each of these three quarterbacks is vying for the starting quarterback position on the Rice football team, a position vacated by 2017 graduate Tyler Stehling. Offensive coordinator Billy Lynch has declared the quarterback position an open competition during spring practice. Lynch said he wants to light a fire under his three quarterbacks and maximize each player’s potential.
“In the spring, competition is imperative,” Lynch said, “It is very good for the team. I think [defensive coordinator Brian] Stewart would say the same thing on defense. As much competition you can have at any position, it leads to guys putting their best foot forward to show what they can do.”
Although Tyner was the only quarterback on the roster to start a game last season, Lynch said he was hesitant to declare him the favorite to win the starting job this season. According to Lynch, no quarterback has distanced himself from the other two.
“[The competition] is wide open,” Lynch said. “Jackson has been the first quarterback to take snaps, but we are rotating all three guys. We are giving them equal reps so they can go compete.”
Tyner agreed that playing last year does not grant him an advantage in the quarterback battle. He said spring practice is an opportunity for him to relearn the offense and develop his talent.
“Having playing time helps with experience, but it hasn’t necessarily boosted my confidence,” Tyner said. “Sure, being in the game is much different than being in practice. However, everything we are running is new. I am readjusting and relearning everything about the quarterback position. I have a fresh start.”
During the majority of last season, Granato was listed as the backup quarterback. However, after Stehling went down with a knee injury against the University of Texas at, Paso, Tyner finished the game and started the following week against Stanford over Granato. Despite the setback, Granato said he is excited to compete and learn the nuances of Lynch’s offense.
“A lot of things have been thrown at us, but we are excited and the guys are having fun,” Granato said. “Competition has been good for this team. These guys are talented football players and good guys, but we are all competing for a job. May the best man win.”
While Tyner and Granato have a season of experience under their belt, Glaesmann has yet to step foot on the field. To improve his chances, Glaesmann said he has rigorously studied Lynch’s playbook, noting its complexities and opportunities for explosive plays.
“We are doing different things with the offense,” Glaesmann said. “A lot of people are confused but everyone is adjusting and taking their playbooks home. [Our offense] puts the defense in a bind. There are a lot of route combinations, which are simple for us, but devastating to the defense.”
All three quarterbacks described their relationship with each other as extremely positive. Glaesmann discussed a recent dinner with Tyner, and Granato stated that all three hang out off the field, in addition to the countless hours spent together watching game and practice film.
With a healthy team (and quarterback) chemistry, intense quarterback competition and a new defensive coordinator, Rice football has plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into 2017.