The wait is over. After a lengthy battle beginning in spring practices, the Rams named senior Grant Stucker their starting quarterback for the season opener against CU-Boulder.
Head coach Steve Fairchild made the decision after practice Friday, citing Stucker’s consistent play the past week.
“Based on what he’s done in the last four or five practices, he has earned the right to start,” Fairchild said. “He better play (well). It’s like any other spot on our team: you earn the right to start, but you got to keep it.”
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound senior from Parker, Colo., said he’s been dreaming about being CSU’s starting quarterback since he was a kid.
“Not only being a senior, but being the local Colorado kid, it would be huge. Getting that kind of support from all the local guys knowing I’m from Colorado,” said Stucker of starting against CU-Boulder.
Stucker competed for the starting quarterback position last season, losing to Billy Farris. He spent most of the season as number two on the depth chart and threw his first collegiate pass at Utah on Oct. 18. In his career, he has completed three of five passes for 22 yards and four carries for 43 yards with one touchdown; that score came during last season’s New Mexico Bowl victory.
Senior wide receiver Dion Morton will be catching passes from Stucker and the clarity at the quarterback position comes as a relief.
“It’s good to know, just from the standpoint of knowing who’s going to be out there with you, who’s got your back, who you need to make plays for and who’s going to help you make those plays,” Morton said.
Fellow receiver Rashaun Greer came to CSU in the same class as Stucker and feels a certain chemistry with the quarterback.
“I’m real confident in Grant. I mean, we’ve got a lot of chemistry going back. We’re the same class, same age and everything, so I’m real confident in Grant and I’m sure he’s real confident in me too,” Greer said.
With Stucker as the starter, junior Jon Eastman will man the backup quarterback position — an important role.
“It’s very important because if the number one doesn’t produce, (Eastman’s) going to be playing,” Fairchild said. “As always in every spot, you’re one play away from a guy getting hurt and the team’s counting on you, so you got to get ready.”
Eastman enrolled at CSU in the spring and immediately began competing for the starting quarterback position. Although he is not the starter now, Fairchild has made it clear he needs to be ready at any time to take the field.
“You’ve got to be ready and just be preparing yourself and be ready to go,” Eastman said.
Both Stucker and Eastman have been taking reps with the number one offense, thus Greer is familiar with Eastman’s game.
“I’m confident in Eastman, too. If he has to step into the game, I’m feeling confident that he’ll get the job done as well,” Greer said.
Stucker is excited and knows the job is his, but also knows it could be Eastman’s at any moment.
“Nothing is ever in concrete. Even if coach says you’re the starter, you got to keep in mind that you got to keep coming out to work and get better every day,” Stucker said. “And if you’re making mistakes, then he’ll put somebody in there who’s not going to make mistakes.”
Football beat writer Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.