Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Following his inaugural spring game as Head Coach, Matt Miller delivered a powerful message to sophomore quarterback Jake Curran: “You’re my guy going into fall camp.” After all, conference player-of-the-year Nick Marshall had just transferred to Auburn; it was a decision most people around the team expected and agreed with.
“Jake earned that right during the spring,” Miller said following the team’s first practice on Saturday. “But he knows the other talent we have at quarterback with these four freshman.”
Talented would definitely describe the 2013 Busters. In fact, the four guys taking snaps on day one, could easily be starting for at least five of the other teams in the Jayhawk Conference.
Asked to asses all the quarterbacks after one practice:
“I hate to make any rash judgments after just one session,” Miller said. “But I saw some special things out of each of them. Some of them might be a little bit ahead of the curve more so than others, but we’ll just see how it goes.”
The four guys in uniform today: Jake Curran (first-team reps; Soph; Garden City High), Akeem Jones (second-team reps; Carol City High School, Florida), Mikail Grace (third-team reps; Marshall’s cousin; Wilcox County High School, Georgia) and Jerome Gilkey (Memphis, TN). The one not in uniform today was Patrick Hoard (North Kansas City, MO).
At first glimpse, Curran held his ground-making several nice throws; more importantly making the correct reads. The one distinct advantage for the hometown product is that he has the best understanding of Miller’s spread offense. In spot duty as a freshman, Curran completed 5-of-15 passes for 17 yards; he’s the only one in the group that has seen live, game action.
Jones, nicknamed “the freak,” turned heads for several reasons. First: His unbelievable arm strength. During position drills, the dual-threat QB heaved several 50-yard bombs down the right sideline with precision accuracy. Second: his command of the offense. The freshman made it be known that he was a leader, barking out commands to his older teammates. Jones struggles however came on the short to intermediate routes. During 7-on-7 drills, “the freak” was picked off while trying to squeeze a pass in on a slant route.
Marshall might be gone, but his blood lines remain in Finney County. Grace showed plenty of the same talent his cousin put on display during a 2012 season that saw him collect second-team All-America honors. In fact, he shattered all of Marshall’s records at Wilcox County High School, and he didn’t waste anytime showing off his pinpoint accuracy.
In position drills, the freshman passed the true, arm-strength test: the out route. To say Grace made those throws look easy would be an understatement. He was consistent for the most part, except for an interception during 7-on-7 drills.
Gilkey’s problems on day one were simply accuracy. He misfired on slant routes over the middle as well as a couple of passes towards the sidelines. To his defense, the wind didn’t help matters. But playing college ball in Kansas, mother nature’s effects aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Team resumes practice Sunday at 6:30