A season ago, redshirt sophomore Brent Stockstill had the best season passing in Middle Tennessee history.
The left-hander set school season records in passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. He became the first quarterback in Blue Raider history to throw for more than 3,000 and 4,000 yards (4,005) in a season and was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year and placed on Athlon Sports’ Second Team Freshman All-American team.
Even though the Blue Raiders have had to learn a new system with new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, he said the quarterbacks have bought in and really taken grasp of the playbook.
“The first two have been really good, and obviously they get most of the reps,” Franklin said. “Brent has a chance to be really special, and I think he will be, and John [Urzua] has a chance to be special, as well.”
Coming into his second season under center, Stockstill said he still has a lot to prove even after his terrific first year. In order to do so, he said he has to keep learning under Franklin.
“I just have to be as coachable as I can be every day,” Stockstill said. “Coach Franklin is a great teacher … just to be able to pick his brain every day and learn from him will be big for me.
“The spring was big. Being here for those 15 days was awesome for me, because I got a head start coming into this camp. But, we still have a ways to go.”
Behind Stockstill, Urzua, a redshirt freshman, has taken control of the backup quarterback spot after earning the Most Improved award for quarterbacks in the spring.
In his senior year of high school, Urzua threw for 3,142 yards and 34 touchdowns for North Gwinnett High School. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Suwanee, Ga., said his main focus this season is to keep building on what he has learned so far. Luckily, he has a lot of experience in a system like Franklin’s.
“It’s been a little bit easier for me, because we ran a similar offense in high school,” Urzua said. “My head coach in high school would actually go to a lot of coach Franklin’s seminars, so I guess I kind of had a head start in a way. Most of it is really similar.”
His second preseason camp has been different from the first, Urzua said, and it isn’t just because they have a new offense under Franklin.
“It’s a lot different, really,” he said. “I feel like this time last year we weren’t as much of a team as we are now. The chemistry is really getting there quick, and we’ve made some big leaps so far.”
Freshman Kyle Banks has been the third quarterback in camp getting some reps under center. The North Paulding High School product from Acworth, Ga., threw for a combined 6,211 yards and 61 touchdowns in his junior and senior years of high school.
“Kyle has gotten a few reps, and he’s done a good job,” Franklin said. “He’s getting better in the drill stuff.”
Though improving on last year’s performance may be a tall task for Stockstill and the offense, he said so far they have done a good job of focusing on getting better.
“I think we’re getting better every day,” he said. “We still have a little ways to go, but I’m excited with where we’re at.”