QBs face crowded house at U

Six quarterbacks are among the 24 newest members of the Minnesota Gophers football squad, and coach Glen Mason spoke Wednesday about their chances to compete for the starting position.

With Asad Abdul-Khaliq and Benji Kamrath lost to graduation, Minnesota coach Glen Mason and his staff knew they had to restock the backfield in search of a replacement.

Six new signal-callers -- 25 percent of this year's signing class -- signed on the dotted line Wednesday to join sophomore Bryan Cupito in the competition to start the season opener Sept. 4 against Toledo.

Mason discussed the future of the quarterback position at a Wednesday press conference.

"We had a need at that position, probably due to the fact that Asad Abdul-Khaliq and Benji Kamrath were one-two at that position for a very long time and that made it difficult to recruit the type of quarterback we need," Mason said.

"(The recruits are) multi-position athletes, most of them, and we've had success in the past with moving quarterbacks to defensive back or wide receiver," he added. Current Gophers TE Jarod Posthumus came to the U after a stellar QB career at Becker HS.

Mason mentioned that the young quarterbacks have an advantage in that most of their competition will come from fellow freshmen, instead of from upperclassmen as seen in most college rosters.

"We only have one guy coming back with any experience, Bryan Cupito, and most of his experience has been holding for field goals," Mason said. "They saw a great opportunity there to come in and compete with guys their own age. They're not all multi-position players to the same degree, but I assured them they'll all get a shot at quarterback."

Another plus is the Gophers' rush-oriented attack, which Mason said ranged anywhere from 60 to 80 percent running plays last year. The winner of the QB competition could be the player who hands off the best.

"Our quarterbacks right now have a big advantage," Mason said. "They've got a good supporting cast around them. We return our entire offensive line. There might not be many household names but those guys can play. We've got one heck of a backfield.

"I've seen it the other way," he continued, "with an experienced quarterback and an inexperienced supporting cast, and that's hard – the quarterback ends up running for his life.

Cupito and junior college transfer Adam Ernst are the most likely candidates to get the starting nod, and they'll be joined in spring practice by Hopkins HS recruit John Carlson, who graduated from high school early and has enrolled at the U.

The other new quarterbacks are all incoming freshmen -- Tony Mortensen of Hutchinson, Minn.; Mike Maciejowski of Columbus, Ohio; Andre Sloan El of Pennsauken, N.J.; and David Wess of Whitehall, Ohio.

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