Quarterback race tightens after scrimmage


File Photo

Tulane transfer Johnathan Brantley throws a pass in Eastern’s spring scrimmage last year. Brantley, along with Harry Woodbery are the two frontrunners to win the starting quarterback job.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

Eastern football head coach Kim Dameron said he has no reason to name a starting quarterback at this point in the year, and that is actually a good problem for Eastern to have.

Since last spring, Tulane transfer Johnathan Brantley and Navarro Junior College transfer Harry Woodbery have separated themselves as the two frontrunners, of six quarterbacks on the roster, for the starting quarterback job.  

Brantley and Woodbery have matched each other as far as level of play goes, dating all the way back to spring camp, and even now after the team’s last scrimmage before the regular season begins, the race between the two is getting closer.

“A lot of (the quarterback battle) will depend on this week’s practice and the preparation and how things go like that,” Dameron said. “We know where we are as far as the coaches are concerned, but I obviously have no reason to come out and name one, Arkansas didn’t.”

Both quarterbacks looked sharp in the scrimmage, Brantley once again showed his athleticsm, making some good throws on the run and escaping the pocket when pressure arrived. Woodbery, who struggled in the first scrimmage, looked more like himself, showing off his strong arm and accuracy.

“We are basically two deep, it’s either Brantley or Woodbery, and it is,” Dameron emphasized. “They’re both going to play. I can tell you that right now. I do not see any scenario where they wouldn’t both play in a game. So we’re going to play both of them.”

The game was a particularly good showing for Woodbery, considering how he played in the first scrimmage. He threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Alexander Hollins and capped off the game with a corner touchdown pass to Nick Atoyebi, who jumped up and made a one-handed catch on the play.

“In the first scrimmage I think we came out a little slow as an offense, but I think this scrimmage we were able to pick it up a lot and come out and play to the full potential as a team,” Woodbery said. “(I feel) good. Had a lot of work this offseason, and I am finally starting to feel a lot more comfortable with this time and these guys, everyone is starting to come in and everything is starting to come together, so it’s all good.”

Quarterbacks Jaylin Banks and Qua Gray also played in the scrimmage and also pleased Dameron with their performances.

Banks, a redshirt-freshman, was being tested out at defensive back this fall, but after the two scrimmages, it would not be shocking to see him stay at quarterback as a reliable back up option.

Banks was sharp in both scrimmages, moving well with the ball and making accurate throws. 

Gray was so-so on Saturday. The freshman, who threw for 60 touchdowns as a high school senior, made some good throws, but also threw some balls too high for receivers to grab comfortably. 

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Scotty Gilkey Jr. did not play once again because of injury. 

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