With Weber State University football spring practices on the horizon, and the regular season seven months away, seven different gunslingers will compete for the starting job at quarterback. For head coach Jay Hill, having the glut of quarterbacks is a blessing, not a curse.
Hill said, “We’re going to have a good battle throughout spring ball, and then again in fall camp, and may the best guy win.”
Four of the men angling for the starting job have spent time with the Wildcats, while only one has any in-game experience with the Wildcats. Two of the three newcomers are freshman, with the third transferring to WSU from Ventura College.
Going into spring practice, the team was without one of their more experienced quarterback options as junior Justin Shaw began making the switch from quarterback to wide receiver in spring practice.
The sole senior vying for the starting job is Rathen Ricedorff, who sat out last season after transferring to Weber State after spending time at three different universities.
Once he finished his LDS mission, he walked on at Arizona State University; after a season there, he transferred to Mesa Community College, where he was named the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year.
Despite receiving an offer from the Wildcats before the 2017 season, he chose to attend Boise State University. He was only with the team through spring though, as he sat for the entire 2017 season after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
On the team dynamic here, Ricedorff said, “We understand the competition, we understand our strengths and our weaknesses. We’re just out there to compete and to push each other to get better each day and make each other better.”
The sole redshirt sophomore fighting for the starting job is the only other quarterback with Wildcat football experience: Braden Miles. Miles came to Weber State from Highland, Utah, joining the team before 2016 following his LDS mission.
He played in three games for the team in 2017, attempting eight passes and four rushes. In those attempts he amassed 38 passing yards and 14 rushing yards but never got into the end zone. While Miles has been at WSU the longest of any of the quarterbacks, he doesn’t think that gives him much of an advantage.
“With a lot of switches this year, with coaching and with our plays, I think we’re all at the same level,” Miles said. “We’re all improving, so there’s a good competition going and I’m excited just to continue improving and see who the man is.”
Outside those with WSU experience, Ricedorff is not the only Wildcat gunslinger to spend time as a Bronco. Ventura College transfer Jake Constantine spent a redshirt year at Boise State before playing one year close to home with the Pirates.
Constantine has spent the least amount of time as a Wildcat, having announced his move to Ogden on Feb. 9. He will join the team as a sophomore, giving him three years of eligibility in Ogden.
The ’Cats also have a pair of redshirt freshman fighting for the starting gig in Washington native Kaden Jenks and Nevada native Zach Hymas.
Jenks was a heralded pro-style quarterback coming out of high school. He was a two-star recruit according to 24/7 Sports and the 58th best player in the state of Washington.
Jenks was redshirted last season and did not see any game action. However, he has been given ample opportunity with the first team in spring practices to show he can lead the team. Even though he’s been given a majority of the first-team reps, Jenks does not see that as a sign on who the coaching staff sees as the next starter.
Jenks said, “We’re trying different lineups just to see how it all fits together and meshes and we’re just trying to find what’s best for the team.”
Hymas also spent his first year in Ogden as a redshirt. He was a two-year starter at Moapa Valley high school in Nevada and was named first-team all-state. He graduated high school in 2015 and commited to the Wildcats before departing for his LDS mission.
Hymas has been limited in spring practices with a back injury, and he won’t be cleared to participate in practice until after spring camp ends.
Hymas said, “I think that’s something that can be looked at as a disadvantage, but I look at it as a blessing in disguise. It drives me to study harder, to watch them, learn from the good things they do, and the mistakes that they make as well and take note on it.”
In addition to all the Wildcats who have had time to become familiar with Ogden, two of the quarterbacks angling for a spot in the starting lineup are incoming freshmen Bronson Barron and Kylan Weisser.
Barron was one of the highest-rated passers in the state of Utah in high school. The former Caveman was a Gatorade Player of the Year finalist and the Region IV Offensive MVP his senior year at American Fork. Weisser is one of two freshman competing for the job, but also one of two quarterbacks to come to Ogden via Arizona, joining Ricedorff.
Weisser was highly-recruited before joining Weber State, turning down Georgetown University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Idaho. He was officially listed as a pro-style passer, though he considered himself to be a dual threat because of his ability to run.
When the freshman make their way to Weber State and join the team over the summer and into the fall, they’ll look to their fellow quarterbacks for guidance.
Jenks said, “Hopefully we can help each other, and when those new guys get here, I can help them figure out what they want to do and get better as football players.”
No matter who is under center come fall against the University of Utah, they will have to fill the gaping hole left by Stefan Cantwell, who led the team to the FCS Playoffs Quarterfinals. As for who does end up starting, the team is keeping their options open, and they don’t plan on rushing their decision.
Quarterbacks coach Kelly Bills said, “There’s no timeline on it. It could come soon, it could come later, but right now these guys are just battling hard and competing. That’s all we asked them to do”