Holy Cross Football Faces Major Decision at Quarterback
Thursday, August 16, 2012
With the opener against New Hampshire just two weeks away, the Crusaders' starting quarterback positions remains open, but two leaders have emerged from a pack of five to replace graduated former starter Ryan Taggert.
Fifth-year senior Kevin Watson has battled injuries throughout his time at Holy Cross, but is the only quarterback on the roster with any game experience. Watson appeared in seven games in 2010 before suffering a knee injury that lingered into 2011. Despite the adversity, Watson knew he would be back on campus this year.
"It's definitely been a long road," Watson said. "I knew I couldn't. You can't just walk away, especially with playing a little bit junior year. I feel like I didn't play as well as I could junior year, so I definitely want to prove something to myself and other people."
Now in his final season with the Crusaders, Watson appears to have a slight edge in the battle for the starting position. Head coach Tom Gilmore says Watson's experience makes him the current leader, but nothing is settled yet.
"Fortunately, for us and for him, he's been on the field a lot in the past," Gilmore said. "As much as he may not be listed as a starter in previous years, he's played a lot for us and we look at him as a guy with that kind of experience... I think he went into camp as the front-runner and I think he still is, but I think the other guys are really pushing him."
Sophomore Steven Elder practically came out of nowhere last spring to put himself in the starting quarterback conversation. The San Antonio, Texas native mirrors Watson's 6-foot-4 frame and possesses similar arm strength. Elder says that he likes where he is in terms of grasping the offense and watching film, but understands that he still has a long way to go.
"It's definitely a lot of work," Elder said. "It's not something I'm going to have mastered soon, but I'm definitely progressing, so that's good to see."
Gilmore said the starting position is still wide open, though he did admit Watson's experience gave him a slight edge. He also said not to count out the other three players fighting for the position. Junior Max Librizzi also has familiarity with Holy Cross' offense, while sophomores Ryan Laughlin and Michael Shewchuck have Gilmore excited about the future.
"I think we have a really talented group of quarterbacks," Gilmore said. "We've been fortunate that that's been the case since I've been here."
Whoever steps into the starting role will have a wealth of talent and experience around them. The Crusaders return eight of 11 starters on offense, including pre-season All American receiver Gerald Mistretta. The talented receiver believes that the offense will be in good hands no matter who starts, but likes the fact that Watson has been around the program a little longer.
"Some of the younger guys, they've been working hard over the summer, and there's potential there," Mistretta said. "Each quarterback has their own skill-set, but I think what sets Kevin apart is his experience and leadership as a fifth-year senior."
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