New quarterbacks ready to take center stage
By kevin eckleberry
Over the past four seasons, the Troup Tigers have had two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the state manning the position.
Montez Crowe put up massive passing numbers during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and Kobe Hudson took over and was a marvel at the quarterback position the past two years.
As the Tigers prepare for a new season, head coach Tanner Glisson is looking for the next quarterback to take the reins of the offense.
At the moment, freshmen Taeo Todd and Jeff Davis and junior Tyson Duncan are getting the reps during practice, and one of them will be the starter when Troup opens its season on Sept. 4 at Harris County.
Marquavious Kelley has also worked some at quarterback during the summer, but he’ll likely be counted on to be an anchor of the wide-receiver corps.
“It’s a three-man competition at the moment between the two freshmen, and Tyson Duncan,” Glisson said. “We’ll use Kelley in some other areas.”
Todd and Davis arrived at Troup after making a massive impact at Long Cane Middle School while leading the team to consecutive league championships.
In last year’s league-championship game, Davis was the quarterback as Long Cane Auburn 32-0 to finish with an 8-0 record.
Todd also played quarterback during the season and was an explosive player, making plays with his throwing arm and his legs.
Just as they did at Long Cane, Davis and Todd are pushing each other to be the best they can be.
“It’s a good, friendly competition,” Glisson said. “Both of them want to win the position, and both of them bring different skill sets to the position, and that’s the interesting thing.”
Duncan, meanwhile, is the most experienced player in the quarterback group, and he’ll be a valuable team member.
“He’s a seasoned guy,” Glisson said. “He also holds for us on (extra points) and field goals, so he does a lot for us and he’s been in the system.”
Glisson had hoped to have everything settled by this point of the preseason, but this has been an unusual spring and summer because of the coronavirus.
Spring practice was canceled, and while teams were permitted to work out during the summer, they couldn’t put the pads on until last week.
“This was something we’d hoped would be a lot further down the road, but we didn’t have spring practice,” Glisson said.
Whoever takes over at quarterback will be surrounded by some gifted play-makers as well as a veteran offensive line.
Troup has a pair of talented running backs in Anthony Ferguson and Navontae Moss, as well as some skilled wide receivers in Marquavious Kelley, Zy Varner and Navelle Dean.
“That’s what I told both of them, or all three of them, sombody’s going to get the keys to drive the Cadillac, and that’s a good thing,” Glisson said.
LAGRANGE: Like Troup, LaGrange is replacing a quarterback who was a multi-year starter.
Charles Crawford stepped into the starting lineup as a sophomore, and outside of the games he missed with injuries, he remained the quarterback through his senior season.
Throughout the summer, sophomores Jaylan Brown and Eric Tumlin have been getting most of the work at quarterback, and first-year head coach Matt Napier has been impressed with both of them.
“Both Jaylan Brown and Eric Tumlin have been taking reps at quarterback,” Napier said. “Jaylan has done a really good job of grasping the offense, and even as far back as in the spring when we were Zoom meetings, they both were committed to that stuff and learning it. They carried it over and progressed through the summer. I’m proud of their effort and commitment. Both guys I don’t think missed a day. They’ve been hungry for success, hungry to work. I’m been pleased.”
Brown will likely be the starter when LaGrange opens the season on Sept. 4 against Upson-Lee, and Napier believes he has what it takes to succeed.
“Jaylan, he’s a special kid,” Napier said. “He’s a smart kid, he’s an intelligent kid. He’s physical. He’s six-foot, 215 pounds, and he can run. He’s only going to get bigger, faster and stronger, so he’s done really well grasping everything.”
Napier also appreciates the leadership skills Brown has shown during practice, and that was on display during the first day of full-contact practice last week.
“One of the most physical contact point of the past few days has been Jaylan Brown, going through the Oklahoma (drill), going through the man-on-man stuff,” Napier said. “He’s won a lot of the guys on the team over, a lot of the coaches with his physicality.”
Napier has also been pleased with the effort of Tumlin throughout the summer.
“Eric can play multiple positions, so he’s a super-talented quarterback, and he has got in and made Jalen better,” Napier said. “He’s made him focus more, made him pay attention to the details.”
CALLAWAY: While LaGrange and Troup will have new quarterbacks this season, Callaway will have a third-year starter and an all-state player holding down the position.
Senior Demetrius Coleman has been the starter since late in his sophomore season, and he has led Callaway to back-to-back appearances in the state semifinals.
The Cavaliers averaged more than 40 points per game last season, and Coleman had a lot to do with that offensive proficiency.
Coleman threw for close to 3,000 yards with 32 touchdowns, and he spread the wealth to a handful of gifted wide receivers while also making plays with his legs.
Considering how unusual this offseason has been, Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins is grateful to have a veteran quarterback at the helm.
“With the time off, and the time that we’ve been out of school and out of practice, it’s nice to have the luxury of a quarterback in returning in his third year as a starter,” Wiggins said. “He’s very poised, has great character and a lot of athletic ability to lead our football team.”
The Cavaliers scored 30 or more points in 12 of their 14 games last year, and they accumulated at least 35 points in all four of their playoff games.
In Callaway’s final game, a 39-35 loss to Brooks County in the semifinals, Coleman threw three touchdown passes.
“Along with his leadership, he has pure mental toughness to go along with a lot of great physical abilities,” Wiggins said. “He’s fast, he’s mobile, he’s got a big arm.”