As the Bobcats’ 2016 season went from bad to worse in the second half of the schedule, head coach Everett Withers did the logical thing and played the younger players and backups in order to evaluate talent. That included the quarterback situation going into 2017.
Incumbent quarterback Tyler Jones was rolling along his senior year but, in the middle of the eight game losing streak the Bobcats were suffering through, Withers inserted Missouri transfer Eddie Printz and junior Connor White under center throughout the twilight of 2016. The idea was to groom one of these guys into the next solid and reliable Texas State quarterback for the 2017 season.
Only one problem. Well, actually 3 problems. Connor White decided he wanted to transfer and Eddie Printz is headed to Italy to play pro ball for Guelfi Firenzea. Rarely used junior Tanner Hodges announced he would be transferring as well, rounding out the third and last pure quarterback on the roster.
With those losses, the quarterback carousel jumped off the hinges and was on the verge of crashing into the pretzel cart at the local carnival. You know the carnival, the one people avoid because of all the reports of robberies? Anyways, who does Texas State make their signal caller going into 2017?
Shoes To Fill
It may not seem like it, but Texas State football has always had a reliable quarterback for the past 14 years. From 2003 to 2005, the Bobcats had Barrick Nealy, the University of Houston transfer that led Texas State on their 2005 run to the I-AA playoffs, helping give the ‘Cats their first taste of winning since the Jim Wacker-coached Southwest Texas State squads won back-to-back Div. II national championships 23 years earlier. Bradley George (2006-2009) then took over the helm becoming Texas State’s all-time leading passer and leading them to a share of the 2008 Southland Conference crown as well as a playoff appearance. As the Bobcats started their FBS transition, Shaun Rutherford (2011-2012) was the quarterback who led Texas State to the huge Vegas line upset when the 34 1⁄2 point underdog Bobcats defeated the Houston Cougars 30-13 (in Houston, no less). Then we come to Tyler Jones who led the ‘Cats to 3 1⁄2 seasons of signal calling highlighted by multiple records broken by the dual threat from Stephenville.
Next up for the ‘Cats is um, let’s see. I predicted that Eddie Printz would be the starter next year but since that’s not gonna happen......
The Bobcats have two walk-ons at quarterback, including Dagan Haehn and Joseph Gonzales. And as I mentioned in my Texas State signing day article, the Bobcats also signed five quarterbacks (two actually signed as athletes, Jaylin Nelson and Kishawn Kelley), with one being a transfer from Mississippi State, Damian Williams.
Bobcat nation has pegged Williams as the next starter for Texas State, and in all fairness he has the experience and, physically, the best chance to win out the job. But before we pick a Bobcat quarterback on physical prowess alone (see Spergon Wynn over Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL draft) lets take a look at what Damian Williams brings to San Marcos.
Tail Of The Tape
Williams doesn’t have a whole lot of game tape. But what I can tell you is that at 6’1” and 230 lbs he is a beast of a runner. Where Bobcat greats Rutherford and Jones could run but relied on elusiveness, Williams can be both elusive and bullying, like a fullback with a quarterback’s number.
The Louisiana native only started two games in Starkville for the Bulldogs, including a Egg Bowl start in which he was relieved by some guy named Dax or Dack or Dak Prescott. I don’t know what happened to him .
Williams did show some impressive skills during his tenure at Mississippi State. The majority of his stats came in garbage time (although in college football, any playing time is very valuable for the evaluation of talent) in blowouts, either on the giving or receiving end.
His career so far:
68/117 passing for 706 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions
72 rushes for 274 yards and two touchdowns
More in depth stats can be found here:
As a starter he was 1-1, including the aforementioned Egg Bowl in which Dak Prescott relieved Williams for a win over rival Ole Miss, as well as a shocking loss at home to South Alabama.
His best game came in relief against LSU in which they nearly came back but ultimately lost 23-20. He showed off his running ability, basically running out of a wildcat formation splitting and bulldozing the defense as well as scoring a touchdown. If he can plow through an SEC defense he can run in any conference. As for his throwing ability, he seems to thrive while under pressure. His ability to read through his receivers and sense the rush shows his poise in the pocket.
As the spring unfolds and the spring game comes up in April, many questions will be indeed answered at quarterback. My thoughts? I think Williams is by far and away the best choice to start for Texas State. There is too much inexperience with the roster and according to twitter and other accounts he is a vocal and emotional leader, something that Texas State needs with a lot of young talent. I’m not going to give a prediction of how 2017 will go, but I think the upcoming season will have its bumps leading to a squad that should have success in the future.