UTSA Football Fall Camp Preview: Quarterbacks
Subpar production from the quarterback position was one of the major factors in UTSA’s dismal 2015 season. Despite not signing a scholarship QB as part of their 2016 recruiting class, the Roadrunners will enter the new season with several options at signal-caller. Former walk-on Dalton Sturm and graduate transfer Jared Johnson will likely compete for the starting role all season long. Along with Sturm and Johnson, UTSA also has some younger QBs on the roster. But as fall practices near, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding the position.
- Blake Bogenschutz: Early in the spring semester, team doctors advised the redshirt freshman to give up football due to lingering concussion-like symptoms. Bogenschutz played in five games in 2015. He completed 81 of 137 passes for 897 yards and four touchdowns before suffering a concussion late in the game vs UTEP. He would miss the final seven games of 2015 with lingering symptoms. Bogenschutz remains on scholarship at UTSA and is serving as a student assistant coach.
- Dalton Sturm: The Goliad-native is coming off a season that saw him play in 10 games (he started the final seven in relief of Bogenschutz.) Sturm’s production: 125 completed passes on 212 attempts with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also amassed 362 rushing yards with one rushing TD. What the stats don’t show is Sturm’s toughness. Many times in 2015, Sturm took a beating. Even while battling several aliments, Sturm stuck it out and finished the season as UTSA’s QB. In the spring, he was awarded with a scholarship. During spring practices, Sturm performed well but not well enough to be named the starter. He is listed as a co-starter with Johnson on UTSA's post-spring depth chart.
- Manny Harris: As a true freshman, Harris was the third-string QB for much of the 2015 season. He did not see any action but did travel to most of the road games as the third quarterback. He missed most of the spring with an ankle injury.
- Jaylon Henderon: A redshirt freshman like Harris, Henderson is coming off a strong spring campaign. With only two quarterbacks participating in most of the spring practices, Henderson made the most of his opportunity. During the spring game, Henderson led the Blue Team to a come from behind win as he directed the offense to 20 unanswered points. Henderson’s stat line from the spring game: 12 for 23 for 176 yards including a 48 yard touchdown pass.
- Jared Johnson: The 2015 Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year came to UTSA earlier in the summer as a graduate transfer from Sam Houston State. Johnson was originally a three-star recruit from South Grand Prairie High School. In 2015, Johnson threw from 2,216 yards with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions while having a 57.5 pass completion percentage.
- Brandon Garza: A native of Harlingen, Garza comes to UTSA from the University Houston, where he was a preferred walkon. Because of transfer rules, he will have to sit out the 2016 season before he is eligible to play.
- Clay Roberts: UTSA’s lone QB addition from the 2016 recruiting class comes in the form of Clay Roberts accepting a preferred walk-on spot. A pro-style quarterback with good zip on his passes, Roberts hails from St. Pius X in Houston.
QB TO WATCH
Jared Johnson is the unknown variable. A quality FCS quarterback, it’s not a given that Johnson ends up as UTSA’s starter this season. Sturm proved himself last season and showed some improvement during the spring. But as the fall practices begin, the job will still be up for grabs. Johnson, who put up good numbers at SHS, did struggle at times and was even benched late last season. A big leg up that Sturm has over Johnson is spending an entire spring learning new offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo’s playbook. Johnson, however, did enroll at UTSA at the beginning of the summer so he will be as up to speed as possible once fall practices begin.
1. There isn’t a clear-cut starter. Sturm is coming off a season where he battled and showed his toughness but it wasn’t enough to win the starting role outright. Johnson’s first snaps in the offense will come only weeks before the first game. With uncertainty surrounding the position, there could be an ideology to use both quarterbacks at points in the season, especially early on. But what probably best suits success is picking one quarterback and sticking with him. Although there could be other factors at play, the lack of a clear-cut starting QB is a concern for UTSA in 2016.
2. Will injuries play a role? For the better part of two seasons, it’s been Murphy’s Law when it comes to UTSA’s quarterbacks. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. This includes injuries and availabilities. UTSA has had more than their fair share of bad luck. But with football, the old adage stands, it’s not if but when injuries occur. Having more than one capable quarterback will be important for UTSA should they get bit by the injury bug again in 2016.
KEY TO SUCCESS
Drive the bus. UTSA’s defense was good last season and is poised for a breakout year. So the Roadrunners will likely be in contention for many of their games. With playmakers at various offensive positions, UTSA’s QB just needs to not make critical mistakes. Examples of some of these mistakes from last season include fumbles that were returned for scores, interceptions that were returned for scores, and general bad decision-making. With a more methodical offense expected to be unveiled, it will be important for the signal caller to play conservative while taking only calculated risks.
Starters: Dalton Sturm or Jared Johnson
Backups: Manny Harris and Jaylon Henderson
Reserves: Brandon Garza and Clay Roberts