MOSCOW, Idaho – The four-year starter who could be drafted in a month is gone, and that means it’s finally Brian Reader’s turn at quarterback for the University of Idaho.
He backed up Nate Enderle for two seasons – playing mostly fill-in minutes, even starting two games. But after the first session of spring practice Thursday, Reader could already sense a difference.
This is his offense to direct, from now until what he hopes is late December or January.
“It feels like I have a little more control over stuff,” Reader said. “I can kind of be a player/coach, help guys out. I kind of had to take a back seat to that last year and the year before.”
The Vandals spent nearly 21/2 hours on a cool, overcast afternoon at their outdoor practice field in the first of 15 spring practices. The team will convene today – also without pads, which aren’t allowed in the initial two sessions – before the first full-on practice Saturday morning.
For a program in search of new leaders with Enderle and mainstay Shiloh Keo no longer around, Reader wants to be one of UI’s bankable seniors this fall. With that in mind, he already has a clear goal of what Idaho needs to prove as it moves through spring.
“That we can win the WAC, really,” he said. “I’m going to keep pushing the guys at quarterback – and all the other guys – because I know better than anybody that competition brings out the best in everybody.
“I don’t want to sit there anytime and I say, ‘Well, I’m the starter.’ I would rather (have) the guys still competing till Game 1 and throughout the season.”
Coach Robb Akey hasn’t hesitated declaring Reader, a 6-foot-3 native of Northern California, the favorite to start the Sept. 1 season opener against Bowling Green. But the coaching staff has also stressed the importance of finding a capable No. 2 QB.
Behind Reader are three quarterbacks with zero game experience. Sophomore-to-be Taylor Davis and junior-to-be Logan Bushnell are most likely to compete for the backup slot, followed by redshirt freshman Justin Podrabsky.
Reader has no problem giving up time with the first offense through spring and fall camp in hopes of finding a solid backup. And he’s going to push on Davis and Bushnell to be prepared.
Akey said there were no unexpected no-shows on the first day. … Center Mike Marboe (knee) was able to practice, as was junior-college transfer cornerback A.J. Annelus (shoulder, hamstring). Annelus is expected to compete for a starting cornerback spot. … Akey wasn’t pleased with the amount of drops and incompletions during passing drills, but he lauded the play of wideouts Preston Davis and Justin Veltung. Thursday was also the debut of redshirt freshman Jayson Washington’s time at receiver. The Moscow product switched from tailback to wideout at the coach’s behest.