New competition: Smith finds himself in another battle at quarterback

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Troy quarterback Sawyer Smith spent last spring competing with Kaleb Barker for the starting quarterback role. One year later, Smith finds himself with another battle with same role on the line.

Barker won the starting job coming out of spring and fall practice last year, but do to a knee injury, was force to miss the final seven games of the season including the Dollar General Bowl.

In stepped in Smith. The junior played in all 12 games last season, but earned his first start in week seven against Liberty. The junior completed 63 percent of his passes and threw for 1,669 yards.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A new spring season has dawned and Smith once again finds himself in another quarterback battle.

“It’s a competition again,” Smith said. “It’s opened up. It’s all of us in the quarterback room, there is about 20 of us. All of us have gotten reps and we are going after it. If you don’t like competing you are in the wrong position and it’s definitely the wrong sport to play.”

Competition is something that Smith has never shied away from. During is battle with Barker last spring, Smith relished any opportunity to step on the field and compete.

“Speaking for me and Kaleb, we love competition,” Smith said. “If we open up like this every year, it makes us better.”

Smith has a new coach in his ear after every play this spring. Former head coach Neal Brown is now at West Virginia and new head coach Chip Lindsay is bringing a fresh new look to Troy’s practices.

“It’s cool,” Smith said. “Having masterminds like coach Brown and coach Lindsay, those guys know a lot. Learning from them is like learning from masters of art. It’s awesome.”

So far, Smith’s experience level has stuck out the most to his new head coach.

“You can tell he has played a lot,” Lindsay said. “He handles himself pretty well out there. I think he does a great job at taking charge. I think for him it’s still executing the finer things of the offense. When he and Kaleb are in the game they have a calmness about them and I think that is the biggest thing that I have noticed.”

Smith participated in his first spring practice after enrolling early out of high school. Because of that, Smith has learned to never take a play or practice off.

“I’m just understanding that every day really matters, Smith said. “My first spring I was still in high school, so you don’t really comprehend that every day means something. Now you know that if you don’t get that rep right, it’s a waste of time.”

Along with Smith and Barker, the quarterback room consists of Gunnar Watson, Jacob Free and Gavin Screws. Watson saw minimal playing time as a freshman last season before ultimately redshirting. Both Free and Screws are new to the Trojan program this season.

“Everybody is competing,” Smith said. “Everybody can throw the ball, everyone can make reads and everyone can run a little bit. It’s a competition and it’s wide open.”

The Trojans will continue to practice leading up to the annual T-Day game on April 20 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“Goal one for me is I want to maintain my focus,” Smith said. “I have been pretty focused so far, I just want to maintain that focus. As a team, we need to get together and be on the same page.”