Apr 102002

If only they could clone these guys into one quarterback, CSU’s football coaches might have the next No. 1 draft pick on their hands.

But until that day comes, the Rams have two different styles of quarterback competing for one spot – which isn’t a bad thing.

In junior Bradlee Van Pelt, CSU’s starter last year after taking over for D.J.

Busch in game No. 4, there is a vast array of possibilities. Whether it be avoiding a sack or keeping it on an option, he has shown time and time again his ability to make plays with his feet – or with his hands, as evidenced by his 56-yard touchdown catch against UNLV.

But being the quarterback, Van Pelt is expected to make plays with his arm.

After completing just 48.5 percent of his passes last year and throwing more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (8), that is exactly what he’s using spring practice for.

“I need to get better as a solid drop-back quarterback,” Van Pelt said. “I can run, I can do all that stuff – it just comes naturally and, if anything, I’ve gotten better after a year of looking at it. So I have to become more of a typical quarterback and then learn to mix as a running quarterback and a passing quarterback.”

In Van Pelt’s competitor, redshirt freshman Justin Holland, there is that prototypical drop-back passing quarterback. Redshirting last year after becoming Colorado’s all-time high school passing leader while at Bear Creek High in Lakewood, Holland possesses both a strong arm and finesse. He has thrived thus far in spring ball, hitting receivers in stride on deep passes and then dropping one just over the outstretched fingers of a defender.

But Holland is young. He received a firm grasp of the team’s offense during the season by relaying the signals to Van Pelt from the sidelines, yet he still has plenty to learn.

“It’s been a lot of growing up, just learning a lot of stuff I never had to do in high school,” Holland said about spring practice. “It’s a lot different, but it’s coming along nicely.”

Now don’t think another quarterback controversy is brewing like there was last spring with Van Pelt and Busch, who has since transferred from CSU. The coaches say Van Pelt is the starter, and the quarterbacks know this. But the coaches also say both will play, no matter what. So no one is getting comfortable.

“Anytime you have competition, it’s good,” co-offensive coordinator John Benton said. “It makes both guys better. It’s nice to know that if something were to happen and a guy was to get hurt, the other guy can sub in and be a force.”

What kind of force is another topic. With Van Pelt, CSU becomes more run-oriented; with Holland, more pass-oriented.

“The hard part to judge is Van Pelt might go get 150 yards rushing, but maybe Holland will throw for 150 more,” Benton said. “That’s what’s hard and what you have to try and evaluate.”

Especially now, Van Pelt’s eyes light up when asked about what kind of force he can be.

Joining him in the backfield are seniors Cecil Sapp, who missed all of last year with a foot injury after leading the Mountain West Conference in rushing in 2000, and Henri Childs, the team’s top rusher last year.

“We have really athletic guys back there that I don’t think we’ve had in the past,” Van Pelt said. “There’s been nothing like Cecil and Henri and myself as a triangle. We can do some dangerous things.” n

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