Parker confident in Troy quarterbacks but looks to add depth

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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The Troy Trojans football team went through the majority of spring practices with just two quarterbacks and both of those quarterbacks showed off their improvements during the spring at this past weekend’s T-Day game.

Both junior Goose Crowder and sophomore Tucker Kilcrease threw touchdown passes during T-Day. Kilcrease threw three scores, including a 43-yard touchdown pass. New head coach Gerad Parker said he feels that the team has seen enough to name a starter heading into the 2024 season but isn’t ready to do so publicly just yet.

“We’ll do that officially when the time comes but we believe we’re in position to do so and feel strongly about it,” Parker said of naming a starting quarterback. “Both guys have done a lot. Where rosters are in college football now sometimes it makes it tough. We had two guys go through spring healthy and they took a ton of reps. For them to do that, tells you a ton about both guys. They both grew and took big steps forward.”

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Crowder is heading into his second year at Troy after starting his college career at West Virginia. Crowder said that playing behind Gunnar Watson last year helped him develop as a leader.

“It’s easy when you have a culture like we do,” Crowder said of stepping into a leadership role. “Being behind Gunnar last year was great, because he did a great job and learning behind him on how to lead really helped. I took a lot from him.”

Kilcrease said that while there were negatives to having just two quarterbacks during spring practice, there were also some positives for him and Crowder.

“I think fatigue hurt us a little more probably because of it but mentally you’re able to learn more and get more reps out there every single day and that helped both of us,” Kilcrease emphasized. “We’re both pushing each other to be the best we can be and I think there’s a plus side to that and a negative to it.”

After T-Day, Parker said that Troy would be pursuing quarterbacks during the offseason to add depth to the position.

“The biggest thing is that we know we can’t go through camp or fall and just have two or three quarterbacks,” said Parker. “We have to do justice to that room and make sure we give our guys enough arms to stay healthy and get our guys enough balls at receiver, tight end and running back. It’s hard to do that with just two balls in the air. So, we’ll do it just for that alone to make sure we have enough practice time for all our people.”

In the summer, incoming freshman Caleb McCreary from Montgomery-Catholic will join the quarterback room but Parker and his staff have also wasted no time in pursuing transfers as Gardner-Webb quarterback Matthew Caldwell announced his commitment to Troy on Monday.

Matthew Caldwell started at Gardner-Webb last year before injuries slowed his season. (Photo courtesy of Gardner-Webb Athletics)

Caldwell is a 6-foot-4-inch, 203-pound Auburn native. Caldwell played for Adam Winegarden at Auburn. Winegarden is Troy’s current Director of Leadership and High School Relations.

Caldwell started his college career at Jacksonville State, where he threw for 136 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-30 passing as a true freshman. Caldwell transferred to Gardner-Webb in 2022. He completed 33-of-55 passes in six games for 374 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions along with two rushing touchdowns in 2022. In 2023, Caldwell played in just five games but completed 101-of-177 passes for 928 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Webb suffered a shoulder injury during the season last year that limited him.

McCreary is expected to join the roster during the summer and he comes to Troy after being named a finalist for both 4A Back of the Year and Mr. Football in Alabama. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a senior bringing a dual-threat to the Troy offense.

No matter who is in the quarterback room, Crowder is confident that the culture Troy Football has created will be what sets the tone.

“There’s a lot of new faces, new staff, new players but the goals stay the same,” Crowder emphatically said. “(Parker) is a great man and a great coach and Troy will be Troy. We’ll still have that winning culture and walk through that lifestyle every day.”