Mar 242009
 
Authors: Sean Star

Like most who were born in Colorado, Jon Eastman grew up a Denver Broncos fan idolizing John Elway.

Unlike most who were born in Colorado, Eastman has an opportunity run an offense similar to the one Elway once ran.

Granted, Elway played on Sundays in the NFL. Eastman is merely one spring practice into a heavily contested competition for the opportunity to play on Saturdays in the Mountain West.

Still, it’s one reason why the new Ram is fired up to run coach Steve Fairchild’s pro-style offense.

“I’m really excited to be in this offense because I grew up a big Bronco fan, a big John Elway fan,” Eastman said. “My family’s always been big fans of the Broncos and John Elway specifically. The (CSU) offense is just pro-set; it’s what you see them run on Sundays. So I’m excited to play in that offense.”

Eastman, who after being born in Fort Morgan moved to Utah, is one of three Rams competing this spring for the quarterback position left vacant by the graduated Billy Farris.

The transfer from Snow College (Utah) is joined by senior Grant Stucker and redshirt freshman Alex Kelly. Sophomore Klay Kubiak, who last season served as the primary backup to Farris, will sit out spring practices because of a shoulder injury he suffered in the fall.

Fairchild said at a press conference Monday that “ideally” he would like to name a starter by today, but that it will take much longer than that.

The second-year coach said he liked what he saw Tuesday, despite some significant wind and rust from the offseason.

“I thought they looked good,” he said. “We’re going to have a nice battle, just like last spring, between those three guys. And I’m kind of excited to see what happens here over the next six or eight practices. Whenever the time’s right, we’ll name the starter.”

Each quarterback brings something different to the table.

Stucker, entering his fifth season with the program, has the experience of competing with Farris last year.

Eastman has the most playing experience and perhaps the most potential, having led his junior college last year to the national championship.

And Kelly would be a more permanent solution with four years of eligibility remaining.

Regardless of who wins, Stucker said the competition will be positive for all involved. “I was pretty pleased that they brought in a new kid, just to kind of give us all a little competition and make everybody better,” Stucker said of the addition of Eastman, who began taking classes at CSU this semester. “Because I mean the beginning of last year that’s what me and Billy (Farris) were all about: Competition to push each other better and all that stuff.”

Being the only one not to have practiced last year in Fairchild’s system, Eastman has relied on his teammates to help catch him up.

“It’s funny. I didn’t know how practice is exactly, so you’re kind of waiting to see where everybody else runs at different times and just trying to figure out what’s going on,” Eastman said. “I felt like the new kid, but it was good. It was a good experience.”

While Fairchild and his staff have been busy tutoring Eastman, they haven’t been the only ones teaching him some Xs and Os. Stucker has too.

“… That actually helps me too just to kind of teach it and get that perspective on things,” Stucker said. “There’s no bad blood between anybody here. We’re all helping each other out.”

Sports writer Sean Star can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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