There’s a quarterback competition brewing in Fort Collins, CO.
Colorado State Rams head coach Jim McElwain declared it a three-man race a week ago that Garrett Grayson, Conner Smith and C.J. Leonard were all possible candidates for the starting QB position. He explained that he wanted to see leadership out of one of those young men.
“I don’t look at it as much as who wins it and who loses it, but who takes control of this team from the position,” McElwain said. “They’ll get ample opportunities to show that in moving forward.”
While it’s anyone’s spot to win, Grayson seems to have a bit of an edge. Grayson started three games to end his freshman year, then was the starter for the Rocky Mountain Showdown last September and retained the position until losing it due to an injury.
He is the most experienced quarterback on the roster and is a dynamic player. While he doesn’t have the biggest arm, he’s a mobile, dual-threat kind of guy. When players aren’t open, he tucks the ball and takes off, gaining major yardage with fleet feet. It’s also how he broke the collarbone in his throwing shoulder last year. When it comes to throwing the ball, he can be accurate at times, but he’s also shown hesitation when it comes to progressing through reads and takes too long to get the ball out of his hand.
However, he’s currently working to improve while becoming a better leader.
“Again, we’re moving those guys between units right now,” McElwain said of the QBs. “Really, what you look for is maybe not how they handle the ones, but how they take control of the huddle with the twos. I saw some good things today, especially out of Garrett. I thought he had a good day; the way he worked and kind of commanded the huddle, got some guys lined up right. All the things you kind of look for from a leadership standpoint.”
Grayson’s stepping up to take control of the offense, and he understands that’s what the coach wants out of him.
“I talked to Coach Mac about that actually,” Grayson said of losing his leadership when he went down with the injury. “I kind of apologized to him. I felt like I wasn’t out here as much as I should have been. I just told him I was pretty much in a depression and wanted to be out there playing. It was the first time in my life I wasn’t able to go through a full season.”
Behind closed doors, it was killing Grayson to not be on the field competing. However, he realizes he must gain the respect of his fellow players by being supportive even when he’s not able to perform.
When he was asked about his biggest obstacle, Grayson explained, “Just being a leader. Coach Mac obviously isn’t very happy with that, where we’ve been going, so I just want to step up and be that guy that can be the leader of this team. Just being vocal. I’ve never been a vocal guy. Being a leader vocally has always been tough for me because I don’t want people to think I’m barking at them and getting down on them but I do need to work on it.”
Undoubtedly, McElwain came to all his quarterbacks with this same message and mission; lead our offense and lead our team.
When asked about his edge over the competition, Grayson said, “Just knowing the offense. I know it pretty well. I know it like the back of my hand, I guess…Going into year two, all of us have a pretty good grasp on the offense.”
For a quarterback, it’s important he memorizes the plays and understands where every player is supposed to be on the field at any given time. Without that knowledge, the offense can’t function, which results in scoring numbers as low as last year’s 21.2 points per game.
Yet, the QB also points out his teammates have an increased understanding of the offense as well. This means the Rams should have a much more respectable performance this fall.
For now though, they’re continuing to work and strive to be excellent everyday; this is one of McElwain’s mottos that’s stuck with everyone connected with the program.
For Grayson, he knows he must keep progressing or risk losing the starting spot.