Quarterbacks embrace competition

Published 6:01 pm Friday, August 3, 2018

It is often said that competition breeds success. The Troy Trojans hope that is the case during their fall camp when Kaleb Barker and Sawyer Smith battle it out for the role of starting quarterback.

It’s been an ongoing battle since the clocks hit triple zeros inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Brandon Silvers is no longer at quarterback and the next two quarterbacks hope to be the next great signal caller for the Trojans.

Both quarterbacks began their final stage of the competition on Friday morning during day one of camp.

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“It feels great,” Barker said. “I spent all summer working hard with the guys. To get out here and find a starting point is a good thing.”

Smith enters fall camp with the opportunity of getting significant playing time, not only over the next few weeks, but during the season as well. Smith redshirted last year and is finally in the mix for the starting quarterback position.

“When I first got here, I wasn’t in the mix,” Smith said. “Brandon was the quarterback. Now me and Kaleb are the guys. We can take this team however far we can go. It’s fun just knowing you’re not going to be on the sideline every Saturday.”
Both quarterbacks had ample time to prepare for fall camp since their last action in the spring. Both quarterbacks took that time to study the playbook and get stronger.

“The talent has been there, but there was a need to study film and get into the playbook,” Barker said. “That has been a huge improvement for me.”

“I think it’s my body,” Smith said. “My weight is up to 220 right now. I feel good and I’m running good. I took the weight room more serious the past four or five months.

As for the competition itself, the players are taking it as an opportunity to get stronger while also having fun.

“Me and Sawyer mess around with it a lot,” Barker said. “We always joke with each other. We are on each other’s butts every day. We push each other daily. We weren’t in the same group (Friday), but if he is in my group and he makes a good throw, I try to make a better throw. At the end of the day, it’s just going to make both of us better.”

Smith embraces the competition.

“It’s competition,” Smith said. “If you don’t like competition, you need to find somewhere else to go; you probably need to play tic-tac-toe or something. Competition is fun and we both love it. If you don’t like it, get out.”

The offensive coaches and players aren’t the only ones that have taken notice of the strong competition and one the game’s most important positions. The defense is starting to take notice as well.

“The competition level is high,” said cornerback Marcus Jones. “It’s great to see two of my teammates going at it every day. I feel both of them are great at quarterback.”

At the start of camp, Brown has elected to give each quarterback a day with the first unit. On Friday it was Barker’s time.

“I saw him quite a bit and I thought he was pretty sharp,” said head coach Neal Brown. “He had mono back in the summer, so he missed an extended amount of time. I thought he threw the ball well. I only saw Sawyer in the team setting. He made a really nice throw and did some good things.”

Both quarterbacks will have ample time to prove they belong as the starting quarterback, and Brown is going to let that competition play out before naming a starter.

“We are going to scrimmage at least two times,” Brown said. “We are going to give them both a chance. We are not going to ride the wave with each day of practice. We are going to see what their body of work is.”