Just over a year after suffering a devastating right knee injury in one of his first practices with the Temple football team, redshirt freshman Frank Nutile appears close to wrapping up the No. 2 quarterback spot for the Owls.
Coach Matt Rhule admitted Nutile entered Saturday’s final scrimmage as the backup to starter P.J. Walker, leading a competition of four inexperienced signal-callers vying to be the No. 2.
“He’s a really competitive kid, throws the ball well,” said Rhule. “He’s coming off an ACL., you’d think he’d be jittery in the pocket, but he’s been real solid in the pocket, smart.
“The other guys (John) Loughery, Logan (Marchi), (Tim) DiGiorgio have had their chances. I don’t know who came out of the scrimmage the best, but Frank came in as the second quarterback. I wouldn’t say he’s having a really strong camp, he’s so young, but he’s the furthest ahead. He’s handled himself well, and has great presence.”
When Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele was injured at Penn State in the 2008 season, there was a big dropoff from the senior to freshman Chester Stewart that showed in the 45-3 defeat.
The Owls are hoping junior P.J. Walker stays healthy in two weeks when they play Penn State in the 2015 opener, but the starting quarterback will enter the game with 19 starts and whoever is behind him won’t have more than a handful of snaps at the FBS level.
If it’s Nutile backing up Walker, he will have no experience – though Nutile did play for a nationally-recognized program in Don Bosco Prep (N.J.).
“Obviously you never want to lose your starting quarterback,” said Rhule. “He has the experience and you have the time invested in him. At same time I would expect whoever goes in to play well.
“I’m confident any of those guys can go in and play well. I wouldn’t want (Walker to be injured), but if they go in, we won’t scale it down. We expect them to go in and make plays.”
Nutile, who will likely wear a brace all season, said his knee is sound and he’s been pleased with his progress.
“I keep building on each day, keep getting better,” said Nutile, who tore his ACL, meniscus and part of his calf. “Tearing your ACL, that’s a lot of adversity. I told myself whenever I got a shot to take reps, I’d make the most of them. It feels great right now.
“It took a little time to getting used to being in the pocket again. But after a couple days I felt great, I felt like was in midseason form in there.”
Nutile said after going through 7-on-7 drills in the spring and questioning the stability of the leg, he put any negative thoughts behind him right before training camp.
While disappointed to be hurt last year, Nutile knew he would have probably been red-shirted anyway and took the opportunity to make sure he got the same amount of mental repetitions he would have had he been healthy.
“It hurt a little not being able to get physical reps, but I made the most of the mental reps and studying the playbook with P.J. and Connor (Reilly),” said Nutile. “There’s so much stuff, coverages, blitzes, progressions. The mental part is a huge part of it, and I think (the mental reps) helped me this camp, really prepared me.”
Will he be ready in two weeks if called upon? Walker believes Nutile – or whoever is his backup – will be prepared.
“Those guys come out there and work their tails off every day,” said Walker. “They’re like professionals, they want to be great. They actually push me every day. I can’t slack. (A few years ago), I was in the same situation they were in.”
Will freshman Frank Nutile be the No. 2 QB?
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