TEMPE, Ariz. — Redshirt sophomore Taylor Kelly emerged out of Arizona State’s closed scrimmage Saturday as the leader in the competition to determine the Sun Devils’ starting quarterback.
“If we played today, Taylor would be the guy,” new Arizona State coach Todd Graham said Monday morning after practice. “I’m not naming a starting quarterback, but right now he’s the guy that we’ve put in there and we’ll see how this goes. He’s definitely got two guys nipping at his heels.”
Graham said Kelly has been best at managing the ball and avoiding turnovers in fall camp.
Graham said none of the three candidates had been eliminated from consideration. But Kelly is getting the bulk of repetitions with the first-team offense, and redshirt freshman Michael Eubank has been running with the second team.
Graham and his staff wanted to use the scrimmage Saturday, the first of
camp, to narrow the field to two. That leaves sophomore Michael
Bercovici running third in the competition despite having entered camp
with unofficial favorite status.
Kelly, when informed of Graham’s comments, said knowing he’s leading the competition just means he has to work even harder to maintain that status.
“I’ve got to improve every day,” Kelly said. “I’ve got to focus and stay even more focused than I have been. Just come out with a fire in my eye every day and compete.”
Graham said Bercovici, Brock Osweiler’s backup last season, performed well in the scrimmage Saturday and had another good day Monday. Still, it appears he has fallen behind Kelly and Eubank. Bercovici said Monday despite Graham’s ranking he is still operating with the mentality he can win the starting job for the season opener Aug. 30 against Northern Arizona.
Eubank’s size, mobility and skill set are a good fit for Graham’s offense, and it seems likely he will have a role regardless of who starts.
“We think his size and ability as a runner (he’ll play),” Graham said Monday. “I can’t see a scenario where we wouldn’t use him.”
During the portion of team drills Monday that was open to the media, Eubank connected on a long touchdown pass to freshman running back D.J. Foster.
“I’m definitely feeling a lot, lot more comfortable knowing this offense,” Eubank said Monday. “This is the kind of offense I ran in high school, and it definitely fits my skill set. I’m just comfortable in it.”
Kelly understands the competition should only heat up with the team headed to Camp Tontozona after practice Tuesday morning in Tempe. Graham has said he wants to name a starting quarterback by the time the team finishes its stint at Tontozona on Saturday with a public scrimmage at the fabled training site near Payson.
“By no means do we think that anybody’s out of the competition,” Graham said. “I do think all three of those guys are still viable.”