The Lone Star Conference has a long history of producing outstanding quarterbacks. A quarterback has won the LSC Offensive Player of the Year award each of the last eight seasons.
The list of winners is an incredible group of signal-callers with two-time winners Dustin Vaughan from West Texas A&M and Kyle Washington of Angelo State. Myles Carr from Texas A&M-Kingsville along with Brandon Kelsey and last year’s winner Layton Rabb of Midwestern State. Last, but not least, Harlon Hill Trophy winner and national champion Luis Perez from Texas A&M-Commerce.
But entering the 2019 season, only one team picked to finish in the top four of the conference in the preseason poll enters fall camp guaranteed to have a returning starter at quarterback.
Defending conference champion and preseason favorite Tarleton State is awaiting a decision from the NCAA on whether last season’s starting quarterback, Ben Holmes, will be granted another year of eligibility.
Even if Holmes is unable to return, the Texans will have plenty of talent at quarterback after signing transfers Daveon Boyd, who spent last season at Blinn Junior College after a solid high school career at Atascocita, and Cameron Burston from Vallejo, Calif.
Tarleton State head coach Todd Whitten must also replace multiple starters from his offensive line.
“We graduated four starting offensive linemen so we have to fill those holes (and) we’re still waiting on (our) quarterback,” said Whitten. “We’re very blessed to be picked to win but we also know that every team can beat us so we’ve got to keep preparing and be ready every Saturday,”
Midwestern State will turn to Zach Purcell at quarterback to begin the season. Purcell won the starting job during the spring and head coach Bill Maskill is confident in Purcell’s ability to lead the offense.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of confidence in himself and his team has a tremendous amount of confidence in him,” said Maskill.
Purcell will have an outstanding target to throw the ball to this season as junior wide receiver Juwan Johnson was named the LSC preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Johnson believes MSU Texas has the right guy at quarterback.
“Juwan (Johnson) has told all of us if we bring in a transfer quarterback, no matter who it is, he’s not going to beat out Zach Purcell,” said Maskill. “That’s how confident our team is in Zach Purcell.”
Texas A&M-Commerce will most likely have a new signal-caller this season along with a new head coach as last year’s starting quarterback, Kane Wilson, is expected to miss this season due to injury.
David Bailiff takes over the head coaching reins after Colby Carthel departed for Stephen F. Austin. The Lions have plenty of talent returning this season on both sides of the ball, but Bailiff understands he must find the right guy to play behind the center.
“We’re going to have a great competition at quarterback. Our quarterback from a year ago (Kane Wilson) is probably not going to play this season,” said Bailiff. “We’re going to need a quarterback to step up. We’ve got some good candidates. We’ve got some good running backs, receivers and (offensive) line, but we need somebody to really solidify that quarterback position.”
Eastern New Mexico
The only team in the top four of the preseason poll assured of having a returning starter at quarterback is Eastern New Mexico. The Greyhounds have four-year starter Wyatt Strand to lead their potent triple-option attack.
Having an experienced quarterback has Eastern New Mexico primed to be the surprise team in the LSC this season and head coach Kelley Lee said the Greyhounds will rely on Strand’s experience.
“He (Wyatt Strand) does a great job. He’s as good as anyone we’ve had running it (offense). He understands it and he can really throw the ball too which is something that we’re looking to do a little more of this year,” said Lee. “He does a great job at the line of scrimmage getting us in the right play.”
Angelo State had two quarterbacks see significant playing time last season in Charlie Rotherham and Payne Sullins, but head coach Jeff Girsch is looking for the Rams to take the next step and compete for the conference title in his first season as head coach after ASU finished the last two seasons playing in the Heart of Texas Bowl.
“We’ve got great team leadership and it starts with our captains. The guys just believe in what we’re doing and it’s time to take the next step,” said Girsch
West Texas A&M
West Texas A&M took a step forward last season in head coach Hunter Hughes second year before multiple injuries derailed their season. While last year’s starting quarterback, Justin Houghtaling, is not listed on the roster for this season, Hughes said the competition would be wide open regardless of returning players.
“There’s still a battle going on. I wouldn’t say there’s a one, two, or three. Mitch (Hood) and Nick (Gerber) all did different things well and did things better than the others (during spring),” said Hughes. “We’ve got some good freshman coming in, (Cameron) Griffin, Trey Larsen, and Luke Latimer, and if a freshman is the best one coming out of the first three weeks, then he’s going to start.”
Texas A&M-Kingsville have plenty of experience returning at quarterback with the main competition being between Koy Detmer Jr. And Cade Dyal who returns this season from injury.
Javelinas head coach Daren Wilkinson is less concerned about his starting quarterback and more concerned about building enough depth to compete in the tough LSC.
“We’ve got three really good (quarterbacks) and there’s some young guys in the wings that may step up and play. I’m not terribly concerned about the quarterback position right now,” said Wilkinson. “We need to recruit and get the depth we need.”
UT Permian Basin
UT Permian Basin will have their first four-year senior class this season as they continue to build their program in their fourth season. UTPB returns a four-year starter in Kameron Mathis at quarterback, along with sophomore Taylor Null who played in nine games last year and led the team in passing yards.
The Falcons have been focusing on learning how to win close games during the spring according to associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Mineo.
“I think the biggest key right now is our guys just learning how to win,” said Mineo. “Last year we were in a lot of games in the fourth quarter where we had a chance to win and now it’s time for them to learn how to win (those games).”
Western New Mexico
Another team that will have a brand-new face under center is Western New Mexico as the Mustangs must find a leader for head coach Frank Tristan’s high-powered offense after the departure of Blayne Armstrong.
While WNMU was picked to finish last in the preseason poll after finishing winless in 2018, Tristan said he expects his Mustangs to show improvement this season.
“I really have high expectations and I would be very disappointed if we had a duplicate of (last year) just because we’ve had all our staff together for a year and we’ve recruited well. If we don’t do well then we missed the mark recruiting.”