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Eastern Washington turns to Jordan West, who gained valuable experience last season as Vernon Adams’ backup

Jordan West, 3-1 as a starter last fall, appears the heir apparent as Eastern Washington’s starting quarterback. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Jordan West, 3-1 as a starter last fall, appears the heir apparent as Eastern Washington’s starting quarterback. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Suddenly that broken foot seems like a blessing.

When Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. missed four weeks to injury last fall, the starting job fell to backup Jordan West, who gained valuable playing time while leading the Eagles to three wins.

Now it appears that West will lead the Eagles into the 2015 football season.

In the wake of Adams’ announcement Monday morning that he will play next fall at Oregon, West will move to the top of the depth chart when Eastern opens spring practice in April.

“I’m so excited for Vern. He’s helped me through a lot, on and off the field,” West said between sets in the weight room Monday afternoon.

“It’s a loss, but we have to move forward,” West said.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound West, who will be a redshirt junior next year, played sparingly in three early season games last year, then became the starter when Adams broke two metatarsal bones in his right foot in a 56-53 win over Idaho State on Oct. 4.

Over the next four games, West completed 79 of 131 passes (60.3 percent) for 1,010 yards, with eight touchdowns and one interception. The Eagles’ only loss during Adams’ absence was a 28-27 defeat at Northern Arizona, when the Lumberjacks moved 77 yards in three plays for the winning score.

“He’s been growing every week,” Eagles coach Beau Baldwin said on Nov, 3, two days after what turned out to be West’s last start, a 54-3 demolition of North Dakota.

West’s grandfather, Pat West, played football for the University of Southern California and later played fullback in the NFL for the Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams and the Green Bay Packers.

Baldwin said after Adams’ announcement Monday, “We are very confident in the quarterbacks in our program, and our expectations and goals are the same for what we are capable of accomplishing in the 2015 season.”

Eastern has three other returning quarterbacks:

• Conner Richardson, a 6-2, 215-pounder from Burien, Washington, a left-hander, was the Eagles’ holder on placement kicks and completed three passes in spot duty.

Richardson will be a redshirt sophomore this fall.

• Reilly Hennessey, who will be a redshirt freshman, was the Associated Press 4A Player of the Year as a senior at Camas, Washington, where he completed 177 of 281 passes (63 percent) for 3,387 yards and 38 touchdowns. He redshirted last year.

• Gage Gubrud, who like Hennessey redshirted last year and didn’t see action, is a 6-2, 195-pounder from McMinnville, Oregon. During his senior year, Gubrud completed 59.7 percent of his passes (139 of 223) with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Eastern did not sign any high school quarterbacks during the just-completed recruiting season.

“With the four guys we have coming back, they all are very good,” EWU quarterbacks coach Zak Hill said.

“Spring ball will be here before we know it, and that room’s going to be hungry,” Hill added.

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