No Quad-terback Controversy For KU

Kansas offensive coordinator Ed Warriner is a big, strong guy, always neatly pressed. He takes the game of football very seriously.

His demeanor is always very cordial – I enjoy talking to him – but there’s always an air about him that says, “I’m all business.”

So when I got him to smile recently, I was caught off-guard. I almost forgot what I was talking about. And all I had to do was ask him a question.

“Coach, you know you could easily have four accomplished quarterbacks in the lineup at the same time. Do you ever think about that?”

“All the time, yeah,” Warriner said. He grinned, like someone who had a secret.

At some point this season – or maybe at several points this season – KU could field an offense that includes starting QB Todd Reesing, former starting QB-turned-receiver Kerry Meier, QB-turned-WR Marcus Herford and rocket-armed QB recruit-turned-tight end A.J. Steward. Believe it or not, a team that passed for nearly 3,900 yards and scored 43 points a game last season could be even more potent.

Warriner never really got to the dusty back pages of the playbook last season; he never needed to on the way to a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl win. With those four on the field, however, you nearly drool imagining the kinds of plays and numbers this four-headed monster – KU’s quad-terback – could put up.

Credit KU head coach Mark Mangino and his philosophy of getting great athletes off the bench and onto the field, even at a new position, for this explosive scenario. It started two seasons ago with Herford’s move from QB to WR. That was a no-brainer, though: Herford was not likely to see meaningful time under center. On the other hand, Mangino is not in the habit of leaving 6-3, 210-pound athletes who can run like a deer on the sideline, so the switch was made.

Mangino surprised a lot of people last year, however, when he moved 2006 QB starter Kerry Meier to receiver and tapped sophomore Todd Reesing as his number one. Suddenly, this concept of playing your best 11 became reality, not just coachspeak. This was viewed as a risky move, and it paid big dividends.

Reesing ripped up opponents for close to 3,500 passing yards. Meier was on the receiving end of 26 Reesing passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Meier still got in his licks at backup QB, too, throwing for 275 yards and three TD passes on 25-29 passing in late game situations.

“When we made the decision that Todd was the guy we wanted to go with, we realized we had one of our premier athletes and a Big 12 caliber receiver not playing,” Warriner said. “We incorporated him into the offense and he took to it and did a great job.”

Along with being a tremendous athlete, Meier has added bulk to his frame, checking in at 6-3, 220 this season. He will continue to take the snaps as the backup quarterback.

Meanwhile, former signal-caller Herford lurks in the wings at wide receiver. He didn’t throw a pass in 2007, but he tossed three in 2006, completing two.

Enter A.J. Steward, the all-everything redshirt freshman from St. Louis. At 6-4, 228, Steward is built like a prototypical college quarterback. With a little more size, he’ll be built like a prototypical college tight end. Warriner explained the decision to move Steward was easier to make, based on Meier’s success.

“We hope A.J. can do the same (at tight end),” he said.

All this quad-terback talent is a nice problem to have. Reesing and Meier are proven Division I starters, Steward appeared to be positioned to compete for the job once Reesing was graduated  and Herford had seen Big 12 action at that position.

Warriner admits it’s fun to know that he has all this offensive-minded talent at his disposal, but it’s even more fun knowing that opposing defensive coordinators are losing sleep over it.

“We have always tried to recruit great athletes at quarterback,” he said, “and as we all know, you can only get one quarterback on the field at a time, especially if the one you have is pretty good.

“But we don't want to have a bunch of good players sitting around. So, we get 'em out on the field and take advantage of their skills.”

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