Just as UTSA’s five-man quarterback battle was starting to reveal a little clarity about the future of the position for the Roadrunners, an awful injury turned the position battle upside down.
On the very last play of practice on Wednesday redshirt freshman Frank Harris saw an opening in the defense and took off through a gap in the offensive line’s pass protection for a long gain, a play Harris had perfected throughout the spring. As the secondary approached Harris attempted just the slightest of cuts in an attempt to juke out the would-be tackler for some extra yardage. Instead of eluding the tackler, Harris’ leg went limp and he fell to the turf.
An MRI would later confirm the program’s worst fear as Harris suffered his second ACL tear in less than three years. While it’s likely good news that Harris didn’t injure the same knee that he had major reconstructive surgery on during his senior year of high school, this injury feels especially cruel after Harris had worked so hard to recover from his previous injury. Harris had packed lean muscle onto his previously wiry frame and showed absolutely no decrease in speed and quickness from film clips I had seen.
In a crowded quarterback room Harris had begun to stand out from the crowd with his ability to escape pressure and extend plays. Two separate sources had indicated to me that Harris was set to be UTSA’s starting quarterback for next week’s spring game. Now Harris will watch from the sideline as sophomore Bryce Rivers and JUCO transfer Cordale Grundy will compete for starting honors.
UTSA’s backup quarterback throughout the 2017 season, Rivers has been on the roster longer than Grundy but with Al Borges stepping in as offensive coordinator this offseason Rivers’ experience bump may be negligible. While Grundy can’t match Frank Harris’ athleticism he’s more of a dual threat than Rivers. If Harris was Borges’ “type” than Grundy is the closest comparison on the roster.
Harris’ injury may also open the door for true freshman JoJo Weeks. While the 6’5” gunslinger won’t arrive on campus until this fall, his arm talent could make him an immediate competitor for playing time if either Grundy or Rivers struggles with consistency or adoption of Borges’ system. It’s a tall task to ask Weeks to step right in as a starter but UTSA Head Coach Frank Wilson has shown he’s not afraid to use a true freshman as a backup quarterback in his first year on campus.
Scheduled for 1 pm on Saturday, April 14th, UTSA’s spring game should be quite eye-opening. Not only will fans get their first glimpse at Borges’ offense but Rivers and Grundy will be dueling each other in a high-stakes battle. The victor will enjoy just temporary relief as the competition for starting honors will last until the Roadrunners face Arizona State on September 1st.