Woodbery, Brantley stand out as quarterback in loss


Justin Brown

Eastern tranfer quarterback Johnathan Brantley throws a pass in the Eastern spring football game on Saturday at O’Brien Field. Brantley was 11-of-13 passing with 103 yard and two touchdowns in the game.

JJ Bullock, Assistant Sports Editor


The starting quarterback position for the Eastern football team is still up for grabs, even after the team just completed its spring football game in a 34-27 contest that was won by the defense.

If one thing did become clear about the quarterback situation during that game, however, it is that Tulane transfer Johnathan Brantley and Navarro Junior College transfer Harry Woodbery stood out to head coach Kim Dameron. 

Both quarterbacks threw two touchdown passes in the game, Brantley finished 11-of-13 passing with 103 yards and Woodbery threw a couple of sharp passes, one going for a long touchdown to junior Darshon McCullough.

Woodbery recognized the defense was in man coverage on the touchdown pass to McCullough, by noticing the safeties were stacked inside and lined up over the receivers. 

“I just wanted to take it back. On my third step I saw the linebacker with his back turned to me so I knew it was man and from there it was just get (McCullough) the ball and he makes plays with it,” Woodbery said. 

Brantley demonstrated quickly what he is capable of doing with the ball in his hands on the first snap he took. The play was an option run to the left side where Brantley ran out and pitched the ball on a play that would go for about 20 yards. 

The option is something that Eastern has done in the past, but Dameron said it is a play that Brantley will be the best at running.

Brantley did not come in until the fifth offensive possession of the game and Woodbery made his debut on the fourth possession. 

Woodbery came to Eastern with a strong grasp of the offense already, and that showed early and often. 

His first two passes were quick completions on swing passes, the type of play that is expected to be run in the new fast-paced offense coordinator Scott Parr is implementing this year. 

Brantley was responsible for the game’s first touchdown, on a 16-yard pass completed to Nick Atoyebi in the right side of the end zone. Both of Brantley’s touchdowns were to Atoyebi; the second came in the fourth quarter and gave the offense a 27-23 lead. 

Redshirt-freshman Jaylon Banks started the game at quarterback, and on the first play from scrimmage a handoff between him and running back Courtney Rowell was fumbled and recovered by the defense. 

Banks stayed in the game for the following possession, which ended on a turnover on downs, and he was replaced by Scotty Gilkey Jr. for the third possession. 

Gilkey Jr. did not turn the ball over at all as quarterback, but he also never led the offense on a scoring drive. 

The closest Gilkey Jr. came to doing that was on his second time in the game. He completed a long pass to Alexander Hollins and got the team down to the five-yard line. At the five yard line he threw two incomplete passes in the end zone and the offense failed to score. 

Despite the way any of the four quarterbacks played, the spring game will be used only as a measuring stick in determining who will be the week one starter against Arkansas next fall, and as far as the coaching staff is concerned, all four players have a chance at getting that nod. 

“The competition by a long shot is still not over,” Dameron said. “So, we will continue to just really look at the totality of spring and then also going into the fall and kind of who is getting the most reps and things of that nature and we will make some decisions probably early fall.”

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]