As another training camp beings, Chris Laviano finds himself back in the thick of a quarterback competition.
Listed as the co-starter with TCU graduate transfer Zach Allen, Laviano is in familiar territory after he competed for and won the starting gig last season. But he maintains that his focus is beyond the order of the depth chart.
“I think as a competitor, whether you’re the (No. 2), No. 3 or No. 1, you’re always going to fight to keep that job,” said Laviano, who started 11 games for Rutgers last year at quarterback. “You’re always going to compete with yourself and the unknown. I don’t think you worry about numbers too much as long as you play as well as you possibly can play.”
After a 2015 campaign that included suspension and social media , Laviano is back to basics with a new coaching staff under Chris Ash and a revamped offense under the spread attack of Drew Mehringer. Both coaches weighed in on the signal caller’s growth over the summer.
“What I saw in the summer wasn’t necessarily what I saw in the spring,” Ash said. “I thought (Laviano) did a better job providing leadership, I thought he did a better job of earning the trust of others with the way he conducted himself. But he’s got to do it out on the practice field.
“Doing it in the weight room, doing it in conditioning is one thing. Doing it when you put the helmet on and you’re back there behind center taking snaps and doing it consistently to the level that guys trust you and believe in you, that’s a whole another thing. So we have to see it Chris can do that — we have to see if any of those quarterbacks can do it.”
Mehringer mentioned Laviano’s commitment to Kenny Parker’s strength and conditioning program over the summer, coupled with an investment in leadership on and off the field.
“It was just a matter of choosing what you want down the road versus what feels good temporarily,” Mehringer said of Laviano. “And he chose development, he chose committing himself to the weight room, he chose committing himself to the film room and to his academics versus maybe going out and having some fun with some people.
“And you can see it in the way that he’s changed his body, you can see it in the way that he’s changed his body, you can see it in the way that he’s improved his leadership quality and the way that his team thinks about him as one of the common things we talked about last night as a team.”
Laviano, who weighs in at 221 pounds now, said he gained 15 pounds of muscle over the summer. It’s just one of the newest changes to the redshirt junior, who says he embraces the fresh start.
“(With) a whole new staff, I feel like we’ve all gone through changes, especially since they’ve been working with us,” he said. “I’m a year older, I’m a bit more experienced and I definitely had to change and mature for the better by this offseason.”
While it remains unclear how long it will take for the competition to run its course, Laviano looks to reclaim his spot. And despite Ash throwing a bomb, as he put it, into the quarterback room with the late addition of Allen, that hasn’t deterred Laviano’s approach.
“This program’s got to do what’s best for the team and I took it as I still have to compete with myself and do the best job possible,” Laviano said. “Zach’s a good dude, a good player and I’m excited to compete with him for the rest of camp.”