Spring football: Trio vying to win No. 2 QB spot for fall

Steven Montero

Northwestern’s annual spring game this weekend ushered in the long march to its fall season and marked the start of coach Pat Fitzgerald’s hunt for a primary backup for Dan Persa at quarterback.

Right now, he has plenty of options to consider.

“Three guys,” Fitzgerald said.

The competition is between quarterbacks with various playing styles. Sophomore Evan Watkins, who stepped in for Persa at Wrigley Field last fall, said he is using that experience to help his performance.

“I started off spring a little slow,” Watkins said. “I was too tense, thinking a little too much but as the spring went along I started cutting it loose.”

Watkins said he was happy with his performance Saturday, which included the first touchdown pass of the game. Even with real game experience he is unsure of his role on the team. He said there has been curiosity surrounding the issue but “it’s out of my control.”

Perhaps that’s because redshirt freshman Trevor Siemian is also hoping to be the go-to guy.

Practicing with the scout team last year, Siemian has not had the time to develop a reputation on the team but said he is “an accurate thrower” and can “manage a game well.” Siemian was sacked on his first drive but later threw two 15-plus-yard touchdown passes. He looked somewhat uncomfortable moving on the field, having trouble connecting with receivers.

“I made a couple of good plays, a couple bad plays,” Siemian said. “As a quarterback you need to be ready to go from the get-go. There’s no taking it easy the first couple snaps and getting your feet wet. You need to be 100 miles an hour from the start.”

Sophomore Kain Colter is the third member of the quarterback trio.

Colter said his Saturday didn’t go as well as he wanted, and that the cold and rainy weather was a factor in the passing game. Nevertheless he still managed to use his speed to complete a 27-yard touchdown run.

“I’m more of a dual threat,” Colter said. “I hurt people with my feet and I’m also confident in my arm. I wasn’t able to show that today and that was unfortunate but I feel like I can make plays with my arm. I’ve been trying to improve myself in that way.”

Although he said he has no idea what decision the coaches will make, he also said he just wants to get out on the field and play, whether at quarterback, running back or wide receiver.

As a player who has taken various positions on the team, receiving a pass and playing some running back last season, Colter has great adaptability. It showed Saturday when he scrambled under pressure and threw a long pass on the run to Torin Dupper.

Cornerback Jeravin Matthews said he has confidence in all three candidates for the position. His view from the defense brought a new perspective to each player’s skill sets.

“I saw guys competing,” Matthews said. “They all bring something a little bit different to the table. They’re all three great guys, great future leaders of this team.”

Fitzgerald said a decision on the No. 2 job will be made later.

“It will probably be determined going into game week,” Fitzgerald said. “It will also be determined on how Danny comes back in camp and how he’s feeling.”

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