Wildcat Quarterbacks Continue Working For No. 1 Spot

"I think the guys that are making a run at it make the effort. They are all a little bit different," explained K-State head coach Bill Snyder at last week's press conference. "Their skill sets are at different levels. Some guys are a little better at one skill set than the other guy and so on down the road. You take into consideration that you have to have good game management, that a guy that can make good, quick decisions and that he can handle the physical aspect of it as well. Everybody is kind of at a different level right now."
With each quarterback bringing his own skill set to the table and playing to his strengths in each practice this spring, competing for the starting job has only made the group better collectively.  
"It really holds you accountable because when you know that other people are gunning for your job, you have to be at your best every day," said junior Joe Hubener. 
Checking in at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Hubener is the most likely candidate to fill the quarterback role during the 2015 season at this point in time. The Cheney, Kansas, native was Waters' primary backup last season and saw the most playing time of all the quarterbacks on the current K-State roster.  
In 2014, Hubener played in seven games for the Wildcats, completing 9-of-17 passes for a total of 235 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for a total of 142 yards and three scores. 
While on the field he displayed promise running the football, Hubener said the running game isn't necessarily his biggest strength. 
"I did not see myself as a running quarterback coming in here at all," he explained. "That's something that's been developed by this coaching staff and this offense - a huge part of this offense is the quarterback run game. That's something we developed here, but I'm definitely confident in my arm as well. So, I'd consider myself a pretty balanced quarterback."
After being the primary backup last season, Hubener believes, to some degree, the starting position is his to lose. 
"I beat out Jesse (Ertz) last fall, so obviously it's my goal to hold him off and not let anybody catch me this year," said Hubener. "But with spring practice, we all knew it was going to be competitive. It's not going to be handed to me; that's for sure. Right now, it's everybody's job for the taking."
Along with Hubener, sophomore Jesse Ertz is also in the running for the starting quarterback job.
"I consider myself a pass-first quarterback," explained Ertz when asked about his strengths. "I have faith in my ability to run, but we're asked to throw so many different routes. So you have to be able to throw it deep, you have to be able to throw it short. I think one of my strengths is just being able to do a little bit of everything."
In 2014, Ertz earned playing time in four games, rushing for 46 yards on seven attempts, including a career-high 26 yards in the Wildcats' 48-14 win over Oklahoma State. 
"From the get-go, I tried not to look at everybody else," the Burlington, Iowa, native said. "I just work on getting myself to a certain place to where, if I got into the game, I'll be good enough to compete at that level. That's been my mindset: getting to where I need to get and not worrying about Jake at the time or Joe. We're all great teammates, so we're talking and helping each other out." 
Along with Hubener and Ertz, there are three other notables for the top quarterback job - sophomore Taylor Laird, redshirt freshman Zach Davidson and true freshman Alex Delton.
All three bring unique qualities to the table for K-State, and all three have continued to improve this spring. Laird came to K-State prior to the 2014 season as a community-college transfer from Sacramento Community College, while Davidson, from Harrisonville, Missouri, was a member of the 2014 recruiting class. Delton, an in-state product, was a member of the 2015 signing class but graduated early from Hays High School so he could better prepare himself for the 2015 season. 
"I think Joe and Jesse probably have been the two that have moved forward over most of the rest," said Snyder. "I think the young guy that we talk about all the time, the young freshman (Delton) - and I do not like to talk about a freshman - but he has caught our eye as well. I think he is going to be in the mix. All of them just have to improve - like our entire football team - improve themselves in different areas."
As it is with any starting position, these quarterbacks are competing against each other every day to be atop the depth chart. However, despite the competition, the group knows it's working together for one common goal: to help K-State be the best team it can become in the fall.
"I think people want to make it a battle. We're obviously all competing, that's what the spring is all about, but we know we need to improve every day," said Ertz. "That's what our mindsets are right now."
 

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