QB's eager to compete for starting job

The Arizona State Sun Devils kicked off fall camp tonight with a long indoor practice session. The practice marked not only the beginning of a new season, but the reemergence of a quarterback duel that's been brewing since the spring. Brock Osweiler, Steven Threet and Samson Szakacsy are the three viable candidates to succeed last year's starting quarterback, Danny Sullivan.

Day one saw Threet manning the first team offense. Osweiler ran the second team and Szakacsy led the third. While the defense was probably the story of the day, the offense still shined at times.

"I think it went pretty well," said Threet. "I started off kind of slow but as practice went on I got better and better. I got into the rhythm of things and was able to complete some passes to keep the offense moving."

Osweiler echoed similar, optimistic thoughts.

"There were a lot of things that we did right," Osweiler stated. "The offense had a very high tempo. We were getting the plays in fast. We were getting them out to the receivers quick. And we were getting the ball off with great speed. As far as offense goes, we're playing at the speed we want to.

"Did we execute the way we want to? No. But that's something we can clean up a little this next month. But for the first day, I'm very happy with how the offense performed. We had a couple touchdowns, we had a couple good drives and it was a good day."

There were several new faces in the wide receiver group making their presence felt on day one. Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad and junior college transfer George Bell both spent the majority of practice working with the first team offense and made positive plays with ease.

Osweiler's excitement about the diminutive Pflugrad was palpable.

"Aaron Pflugrad is going to be a stud for us," Osweiler commented. "He's always in the right spot, never messes up an assignment and never drops a ball. Aaron had a great day."

Junior wideout and local product Gerell Robinson also made a bevy of highlight reel catches that drew praise from the quarterbacks.

"I think (Robinson) had a great day today with one-on-ones and everything," Threet remarked. "We have a lot of guys. Brandon Smith is back. TJ (Simpson), Kerry (Taylor), and Pflugrad. I don't want to leave anyone out. We had a bunch of guys with good days."

"Gerrell Robinson had a great day too," Osweiler added. "He came out and played well and our entire wide receiving crew is amazing. That's why those individuals can have good days, because we have threats all over the field."

Threet spent the 2009 season watching games from the sideline and running the practice squad after transferring from Michigan where he was the Wolverines' starter as a freshman.

With the year long layoff and the introduction of yet another new offensive coordinator, Threet put in hard time in this offseason to improve but at the same time kept his focus simple.

"In the offseason I worked on mechanics," Threet said. "Just trying to make some improvement in my footwork and how I'm releasing the ball. Also, just working on my progressions, trying to get more comfortable with the offense."

Towering above the rest of the signal callers at a lofty 6'8", Osweiler's approach to the offseason was different. He focused more on the physical aspects of his game and cutting down on some extra weight.

"I had a great offseason," Osweiler described. "I took my body fat down from fifteen percent to ten percent. Physically wise, I did a lot of cardio stuff. Football wise, I just tried to get out here and throw as many balls as possible to improve my accuracy."

Although he seems somewhat of a dark horse candidate to win the starting job, Szakacsy did plenty to impress in the first practice of summer.

The junior from Camarillo, Calif. has battled with chronic problems in his elbow during his tenure at ASU, but the results of a successful shoulder surgery are so far apparent. The reoccurring injuries may have slowed the development of the talented quarterback but that hasn't dampened his spirits.

Szakacsy has always been accurate and able to throw a catchable ball. The knock on his game was that he wasn't able to the throw deep ball quite well enough. Today he was firing the ball with more zip and consistently hitting receivers twenty plus yards down the field.

Threet had nothing but positive things to say about his fellow quarterback and competitor.

"(Szakacsy) is definitely throwing the deep ball better," Threet acknowledged. "Sam was getting a lot of work in this offseason. He worked hard to get his arm healthy and has been doing a lot of work in the weight room. He's a great kid and he's got a great work ethic."

Through one day of practice, it's anybody's guess which of the three will win the starting job. One thing is certain though; the Sun Devils have more talent and depth at the spot than years past.

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