With less than a month remaining until the Rams open up the 2016 season with the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown, competition amongst the quarterbacks is still wide open.
All summer the talk has been about last year’s starter Nick Stevens and graduate transfer Faton Bauta, but freshman Collin Hill has taken a lot of people by surprise, earning his way into the conversation for QB-one.
“There’s no question Collin Hill is part of the competition,” Bobo said at the Colorado State Media Day press conference Wednesday. “You treat freshmen a little bit different. Everybody always says you treat everybody the same way, but each guy’s different. Not just at quarterback, but all players.”
Competition and depth has been emphasized by the coaching staff since the spring, so it is no surprise they have no problem throwing another quarterback into the mix.
“If we want to be a consistent winner, we have got to build depth and you have to do that through recruiting and developing those players that you recruit,” Bobo said.
Bobo’s approach is simple, the players that can handle what this coaching staff throws at them, will be the ones that suit up on Saturdays. When it comes to the quarterback position, it takes a competitive mindset and the CSU staff is not worried about hurting feelings; they are looking for someone to lead them into battle.
“Criticism is never personal,” Bobo said. “I want a guy that can handle pressure. There’s pressure playing the quarterback position. You earn confidence. If I’ve got a quarterback that is not confident in himself and believe in himself, then I’ve got the wrong guy. Quarterback’s have got to be borderline cocky that they are the guy.”
Confidence is not something Faton Bauta lacks. In fact, Bauta may have that attitude Bobo is looking for.
“If you are looking for the baddest dude on the field, it is probably going to be me,” Bauta said.
Throughout the competitive process, Bobo and staff are looking for somebody that can respond throughout adversity and make smart decisions with the football. When asked about the process of competing for the starting job, Bauta explained the high standard a quarterback must hold himself to.
“If you are not a perfectionist, I do not know why you are playing quarterback,” Bauta said. “A lot of quarterbacks across the country, the majority are perfectionists… If you press every day to be the absolute best that you can be, you will probably get a decent result.”
Last year’s starter Nick Stevens brings a different attitude to the mix. Stevens is definitely confident in his own abilities, but he brings a much more laid back presence. Stevens is comfortable in this program and is a proven leader of the team. It is clear Stevens feels he is up to the task.
“I definitely feel like I have made some great strides in this offense from year one to two,” Stevens said.
When presented with the same statement on quarterbacks being cocky, Stevens laughed.
“I would not describe myself that way,” Stevens said. “I guess with me it is more about holding myself accountable with what I know I can do. Instead of being out there being all ostentatious and flashy.”
In his first year as a starter, Stevens beat out Coleman Key for the starting position and then proceeded to lead his team to a seven-win season and a bowl appearance. Stevens saw a lot of success in his first year as a starter and feels his teammates are confident in him and in this program.
“I think that if you can get guys to go out and play for each other, they are going to perform much better than they would if it is just like I am here for me and it is all about me,” Stevens said. “ I think that we have, that family feel and unity, that allows us to play at that next level. “
The three quarterbacks present a wide variety of experience. Whoever wins the job will have to stand out over the next few weeks. Will it be the young rising star Collin Hill, the confident and poised Faton Bauta or the cool and collected Nick Stevens?
Bobo wants a player that impresses in every aspect of the game and in every aspect of life. The players have said the rights things and are all grinding on a daily basis. This competition does not appear to be anywhere near an end, so it will come down to who performs consistently.
Collegian Sports Reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JustinTMichael.