Chattanooga opens spring practice in just over a week. The Mocs return a wealth of talent on both sides of the ball from last season’s 6-5 campaign, but this spring will offer the first glimpse of new offensive coordinator Jeff Durden’s system.
Nooga.com will preview each position group leading up to the first practice on March 22.
Gone: Graham Nichols (graduation)
Returning: Jacob Huesman (RS SO), Terrell Robinson (RS JR)
Arriving in summer: Alejandro Bennifield (2-star), Tyler Roberson (NR)
Outlook: Chattanooga possesses a pair of capable quarterbacks with starting experience—Jacob Huesman and Terrell Robinson—and just like last season, there could be some competition between the two for time under center.
Huesman, a Southern Conference All-Freshman Team selection, is coming off an impressive first season for the Mocs, racking up a UTC freshman record 2,616 yards of total offense while accounting for 20 of the team’s 35 offensive touchdowns.
Robinson, the 2011 SoCon Freshman of the Year, had an up-and-down season for Chattanooga, finishing the year with 301 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
The run-first Robinson quit the team just days after its season-opening loss at South Florida, and while he rejoined the Mocs less than 48 hours later, Huesman had already developed a firm hold on the starting job by the time Robinson was cleared to play against Glenville State. And with what the 6-1, 210-pound Huesman did in his first season under center, he has to hold the upper hand heading into spring practice.
Aside from being a capable signal caller, though, Robinson is without question one of the team’s best athletes. No matter where he lines up, Robinson will certainly be a threat for the Mocs.
Robinson played sparingly at quarterback after his early-season episode, but that didn’t keep him from contributing to Chattanooga’s offensive effort. The 6-3, 197-pounder hauled in a team-leading 40 receptions for 489 yards and five scores in about five games at wide receiver, and also piled up 232 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
The Mocs signed a pair of prep quarterbacks from the state of Georgia this offseason in Alejandro Bennifield and Tyler Roberson. Bennifield, a 6-2, 215-pounder out of Hampton, Ga., led Lovejoy High School to a 14-1 record and an appearance in the Class 6A championship game last season, throwing for 2,576 yards and 32 touchdowns. Robinson, 6-4, 210 pounds, enjoyed similar success in his final prep season, racking up 3,033 total yards and 33 touchdowns for Augusta Christian.
Both will be prime candidates for redshirts, though, once they arrive on campus this summer.
By the numbers:
• Huesman: (UTC career) 167 of 256 (65.2%) passing for 1,712 yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs, 904 rushing yards, 7 TDs
• Robinson: (UTC career) 57 of 87 (65.5%) passing for 637 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs, 649 rushing yards, 8 TDs
Projected initial depth chart: Just like last year, the competition at quarterback will be one of the main story lines heading into spring practice, and it'll be interesting to see how the Chattanooga coaching staff handles it this time around. Head coach Russ Huesman didn’t reveal a starter last season until Robinson took the field on the Mocs’ opening possession of their season-opening loss to South Florida. The starting job appears to be Huesman’s to lose, but whether he’s under center or out wide, Robinson will definitely see plenty of playing time for UTC.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.