With the spring game in the books and the first look at the offense with it’s new wrinkles, it is time to take a look at the possibilities and the Quarterback competition that will be in Commerce. Will one guy take the reins and hold on or will it be a season opening decision like it was last year? Let’s take a look.
Kane Wilson-The Senior from Placentia, California by way of New Orleans was the starter for most of the season last year and he is the incumbent and let’s face it, it is hard to knock off an incumbent. Let’s take a look at his 2018 numbers-
161 Completions out of 290 attempts, 2237 yards, 13 Passing Touchdowns, 97 Rushing Yards, 10 Rushing Touchdowns, 55 % completion rate, 9 interceptions.
The Story: Wilson had been hyped as another SoCal gunslinger because of what he had done at Fullerton Junior College in California and also the pedigree he has in having a Father play in the NFL for a decade. Strong arm, big bodied and a ton of athletic ability. However, the staff decided to not start him last season for the first 4 games until the offense was so anemic in a loss to CSU-Pueblo that it was apparent that there needed to be some change at the position. Wilson played pretty well, good enough to be All-Conference Honorable Mention. However, if he is going to fulfill the hype (and I think he is hype worthy, so don’t get me wrong), he will have to do two things, which is cut back on the turnovers (he threw 4 interceptions that were returned for touchdowns last year and fumbled at costly times) and have the confidence he played with against teams like Angelo State and West Texas A&M. I think this new staff is going to be more hands off and if they let Kane be Kane and make some plays, I expect him to have a great Senior Season and make a case for being the best QB in the Lone Star Conference.
Preston Wheeler-Senior, Austin, TX. The Austin native and last year’s starter for the first 4 games, Wheeler found himself backing up Wilson after the loss to CSU-Pueblo. Do not think for one second though, that Wheeler is going to be content holding for placekicks and being the backup in his final year as a Lion. Last year he did something that got the coaches to notice and beat out Wilson to start the season. Let’s look at his numbers in 2018.
72 completions out of 131 attempts for 735 yards. 5 passing touchdowns and 4 interceptions, 54 percent completion percentage.
The Story: When he led the Lions back to a double OT win over Kingsville to open the season last year, I was sold on what I saw. I had never seen a QB just shake off a bad start and reel off points and yards and will his team to victory like since….well Luis Perez. (I digress). The point is, Wheeler got hot when his confidence was high. However the lackluster performances against William Jewell and Eastern New Mexico saw that things were not clicking like we had hoped. To his credit though, Wheeler did not have Darrion Landry for the first 4 games of the season, Vincent Hobbs was being triple teamed every time he went out for a pass, while Matt Childers and Chance Cooper were finding their way as young players into the receiver position, and his offensive line was learning to gell. Not the best time to be thrown into an offensive unit to command. Some things may be hit and miss, but I know this much, Wheeler is going to give it his all to get the job and be the best he can be. The starting job is between he and Wilson.
Armando Herrera-Junior, Redlands Valley, CA
The Story-When it comes to plucking good JUCO QB’s from California, A&M-Commerce just seems to have a knack for it. Herrera was a top rated JUCO QB from San Bernardino Valley College. In 11 games last season, he threw for 3,262 yards with a whopping 44 touchdowns as to 11 interceptions. He also ran for an additional 142 yards and had 4 TD’s rushing. This kid is the real deal. Now, I put him at third because he has the most college football experience of any guys not named Wilson or Wheeler, but also because I bet he redshirts this upcoming season to learn the offense and probably outduels some other guys for the starting job in 2020. This kid has it all and it may be end up being 4 straight starters at QB from Southern California for the Lions. Check this article out on his high school days-https://www.sbsun.com/2016/11/10/revs-record-setting-armando-herrera-nears-end-of-career/
Gunnar Palacios-Redshirt Sophomore, Canyon, TX. One of the best QB recruits out of the high school ranks, Palacios was a gem that the Carthel staff found, and the fact they were able to pluck him out of the backyard of a rival school just adds sugar on top. A two time all State selection at Canyon High who racked up 7,500 yards of offense in two years, he has a shot to be the starter in the next few years and give any new guy a run for his money.
The Story: Palacios was a redshirt when the Lions won the National title and got to see some game action last season against Lockhaven, but other than that, there has not been much else to go off of. That was until the Spring Game. He had the best game of any newcomer and to me, he played the best out of all the QB’s. He is super mobile, has a good arm, makes accurate intermediate throws, needs some touch on his long ball but has the arm. Buying time in the pocket will probably give him the leg up he needs because there will be play action plays from under center and if that happens, the kid has got the wheels to dodge, duck, and dip and be nifty in the pocket. I expect him to be third string this year and see some action in blowout wins.
Mason Ray-Redshirt Sophomore, Bryan, TX
The Story-Ray found himself in one game last season, as a Redshirt Freshman, but the strong armed and big bodied pro set QB from the Brazos Valley has not seen any real action and how well he progresses will be something to watch. The guy is no slouch, just ask the teams he played against in High School. A raw talent that can be polished, no doubt.
Cameron Howe-6’3 R-Fresh from Waltrip High in Houston.
No college action yet, but showed off his arm in the Spring game.
The Story: Two-year letter winner in football at Waltrip. Had 2,000 passing yards in eight games with 20 touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns… Was named District Offensive MVP, First Team All-District, VYPE Quarterback of the Year and Academic All-State.Was part of the first team to go undefeated in the regular season in school history.