Toledo Rockets Challenged At Quarterback
By Lana Sache
Much attention is on the quarterback position this spring at Toledo. Coach Matt Campbell has a lot to consider while trying to replace three-year starter T.O Owens. Coming into the fall, there are three possible starters: Junior Phillip Ely, sophomore Logan Woodside, and redshirt freshman Michael Julian. Not one player has stood out as the front-running replacement.
The annual Blue and White spring game should have been the staple in the decision-making process, yet has left fans in the dark. Julian did not play due to a sore arm, although he did punt the ball three times. Ely led the Blue Team to a 20-7 victory over Woodside and the White Team, but their stats were too similar to differentiate. Ely completed 17 of 30 passes for two touchdowns; a 34-yarder and 29-yarder in the first and third quarters. Logan completed 15 of 27 passes for one 41-yard touchdown to sophomore Corey Jones.
The question remains: How is coach Campbell going to make his decision? His interview with WNWO news told us this: “Now as coaches, (we) remove ourselves from these kids and they’ve got to lead. When you talk about the quarterback, that guy has to be a great leader within your program, so I look forward to watching these three guys to continue to develop in the next two and a half months.”
Thinking logically, Julian would have to shine unlike any Toledo quarterback in history to beat out the competition. He did not get to showcase himself in the spring, and has yet to play on the field as a college athlete. His physical attributes, like being 6-foot-5 and having an impressive high school record, gives him the potential, but potential may be where the talking ends for the 2013 season.
Woodside is the only one in the competition to play quarterback during a regular season game for Toledo. He played in four games in 2013 and started as quarterback in one game when Terrance Owens left due to an injury early in the game. Woodside was able to complete 14-of-24 passes for 185 yards, leading to a win over Eastern Washington, 33-21.
Campbell told Rivals.com, “Logan Woodside is a tough competitor. He understands what it takes to win in our conference. He’s familiar with the speed of the game.”
Ely may have the most impressive resume in the group. Although he was forced to sit out last season due to NCAA rules, he is ready and roaring to play. He is an Alabama transfer student. Although his playing time there was slim, he still learned with some of the best in the country. In high school, he helped his team get to the Florida state championship game. In tough situations, Ely is no amateur. Campbell sees his potential and has expressed his excitement for him to compete often. His resume may put him as a frontrunner, but lack of Toledo experience may put him on the sidelines.
When August rolls around, Toledo still may be uncertain. Campbell has no pressure to pick, and it seems he is more than content with a slow process. Two quarterbacks will share the spotlight in the Glass Bowl.
“They’ve all shown growth. There’s been a conscious effort to take care of the football, which in the past has killed us. I think the decision-making is at a healthy high level," Campbell said, according to the Toledo Blade. "Rarely do you see three guys who are competing for the same job all maintain a positive attitude, a really solid approach to preparation, and a genuine willingness to be good teammates. There’s not a selfish guy in the group. That makes it easier on me, and it makes it easier for our football team too."