Miami football: QBs still battling it out as spring practice concludes

Miami football fans looking at Saturday’s Spring Showcase for separation in the battle for the starting quarterback job were disappointed.

Redshirt freshman Jackson Williamson and true freshman A.J. Mayer remained even on the depth chart at the conclusion of the RedHawks’ 15-session spring practice.

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The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Williamson, a left-hander from Anderson, S.C., finished 3-of-11 for 45 yards and one touchdown and also gained 32 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground during the four 11-on-11 sessions. His touchdown run went for 18 yards. Mayer, a 6-3, 213-pound right-hander from Edgewood, Ky., went 6-for-9 for 42 yards and a touchdown.

“They both had good days,” said Miami coach Chuck Martin, who wrapped up his sixth spring practice with the RedHawks. “It’s been like that all spring. If one has an off day, the other one has a good day. They last time we had something like this, Gus (Ragland) and Billy Bahl were very different. These two guys are very similar. They both can take off and run. They both can push the ball down the field. They’re both young. They both made good decisions today.”

Williamson and Mayer are the leading candidates to replace Ragland, Miami’s starter for the past 2-1/2 seasons. Ragland threw all but four of the passes attempted by RedHawk quarterbacks last season and logged all of their completions.

Ragland is one of six offensive players and four defensive players who graduated after starting most of last season, including the last game, for a team that went 6-6 overall and 6-2 to finish second in the Mid-American Conference East Division. They were part of a group that’s gone a MAC-best 16-6 in the conference in the last 22 games.

Saturday’s 11 periods wrapped up what Martin considered to be a successful spring practice, which started on March 10.

“We’ve really come far from (the first day),” he said. “Our (backups) are executing better, offensively and defensively. Our younger guys have made up a lot of ground in the last three or four weeks.”

This year’s practice was the last for fifth-year senior Dean Lemon. The 6-2, 246-pound defensive lineman from Alter High School also saw progress.

“Individually, on defense, I thought we improved, and our young quarterbacks got better every day in practice. I thought the schedule worked out well. We practiced for a couple of weeks, took a week off for spring break, and then came back for another couple of weeks.”

Other highlights include redshirt sophomore Mitchell Burton scoring two touchdowns in the final period, which focused on red zone work. Redshirt junior defensive back Manny Rugamba came up with a nifty one-handed interception during position drills.

Six players were injured and didn’t participate in the Showcase – redshirt freshman linebacker Dallas Fields, redshirt junior wide receiver Tyler Fleetwood, redshirt junior center Danny Godlevske, fifth-year senior defensive back Allan Kolkoi, sophomore defensive back Ja’don Rucker-Furlow, a Belmont grad, and fifth-year senior running back and Talawanda grad Maurice Thomas. Godlevske is the only projected starter among the injured players.

“They’ll all be back in the fall,” Martin said. “That gave some young guys some looks.’

Fans of all ages converged on Ben Roethlisberger Field inside the David and Anita Dauch Indoor Sports Center more than an hour before the 1:30 p.m. start of practice. Those not rummaging through Miami gear, including game-used apparel, were playing cornhole, while younger fans enjoyed Hula Hoops, bouncy play areas, miniature golf and a Mega 4 Inline game. Music provided by a disc jockey filled the air, and some fans were filling seats on the metal bleachers set up at one of the field that lopped 20 yards off the playing field.

Cheerleaders handed out 2019 schedules. Fall camp is scheduled to start on Aug. 2 before Miami opens the 2019 season on Aug. 31 at Iowa.

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