Quarterback battle highlights early spring football practices

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Quarter back Joe Hubener rushes down the field at the Kansas State vs. Texas football game at Bill Synder Family Stadium on Oct. 25, 2014. (File Photo by Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

Quarterbacks: they come, they go. Some even manage to do great things.

That rings true for K-State, which has sustained quality in the position over the last four years with Collin Klein and Jake Waters.

A decision looms for longtime head coach Bill Snyder that could define the next step for his football team. Last time around, after tinkering with a one-two quarterback system, Snyder and his staff went with Waters, who possessed greater ability throwing the ball, but could also run when needed.

This time around, the Wildcats face a similar choice that could see a Klein-esque running quarterback like junior Joe Hubener — “Bazooka Joe” as he goes by in some circles — or a more traditional passing quarterback in sophomore Jesse Ertz.

“I think Joe (Hubener) and Jesse (Ertz) probably have been the two that have moved forward over most of the rest,” Snyder said Tuesday at K-State’s first spring football press conference. “I think the young guys that we talk about all the time, the young freshman — and I do not like to talk about a freshman – but he has caught our eye as well. I think he is going to be in the mix.”

The freshman Snyder referred to is Hays, Kansas product Alex Delton. During his senior year at 4A-I Hays, Delton (who was rated the top-rated high school quarterback in Kansas by ESPN) ran for 1,519 yards and 17 touchdowns while also throwing for 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Each of the six quarterback options on the spring roster seem to hold at least one set of skills, from being a strong thrower to a run-and-gun type of quarterback. That alone could make Snyder’s decision even more difficult.

“Their skill sets are not necessarily at different arenas, but at different levels; some guys are a little better at one skill set than the other guy and so on down the road,” Snyder said. “Everybody is kind of at a different level right now.”

While the race remains open, expectations outside the K-State football program are that Hubener, who saw considerable action in 2014, will take the reigns as the starting quarterback come fall.

“I am just really trying to step up as a leader; that is my main objective,” Hubener said. “Jake (Waters) was a tremendous leader, as was Collin (Klein), so those were some really big shoes to fill.”

Those shoes, whether worn by Hubener, Ertz or Delton, come with the expectations of being a dual-threat quarterback who can throw it downfield or pull it down at a moment’s notice for a run.

“I think (having a dual-threat quarterback) is huge, especially for our offense and what we want to do, adding another blocker and keeping the quarterback with the ball gives you an advantage,” Ertz said. “That is just something that we use in our offense, and it is important for quarterbacks in our offense to be able to run as well as pass.”

Wildcat fans will get their first glimpse of Hubener, Ertz and Delton on April 25 at the annual Purple and White Spring Game in Kansas City, Kansas at Sporting Park.

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