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While Questions Swirl, Knights Not Saying Much About QB Battle Yet

The most HC Josh Heupel and Co. will say is that the competition is a true three-man clash

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Louisiana State vs Central Florida
UCF’s fall training camp will include a three-way competition for the starting quarterback while Darriel Mack Jr. heals his broken ankle.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NEWPORT, R.I. — Who will be UCF’s starting quarterback when the season begins next month?

It’s a query that head coach Josh Heupel fielded numerous times Tuesday during American Athletic Conference Media Days, all coming with different phrasings, from different angles, with the hopes of pulling any illuminating nugget from the second-year HC.

He likely provided the same answer every time, which was basically no answer.

This is all expected, of course. Fine.

But ... (sigh) ...

Surely someone is the leader in the clubhouse between Brandon Wimbush, Dillon Gabriel and Quadry Jones, right? Wimbush must have some sort of edge as a redshirt senior competing against a couple of much less experienced players, no?

No. Even Heupel’s players understand that.

“Gabe’s shaking his head back there,” the coach said with his smile as wideout Gabriel Davis basically spoiled Heupel’s response before a word was spoken about there being a possible leader.

“I promise you, back in spring, literally all four QBs were rotating,” center Jordan Johnson stressed. “I had no idea who was behind me on any given snap.”

Although Mack has exited that rotation for now, Heupel is confident he will be back at some point this season. When, exactly, is another question without an answer. Even asking which ankle Mack broke is met with some equivocation, although Heupel said he thinks it was his left, which is his lead leg.

Mack remains in high spirits and is hoping to make a speedy recovery, according to Johnson. In the meantime, the center has liked what he has seen from the quarterbacks, especially the true freshman from Hawaii.

“You could tell, Dillon, fresh out of high school, he was a little nervous the first couple of days,” Johnson said. “But by the end of spring, he was rolling.”

Wimbush is far more battle-tested at this level than Gabriel or Jones, having led Notre Dame to a 10-3 record, a Citrus Bowl victory over LSU and a final ranking of No. 11 in 2017. But when it comes to UCF, Heupel sees the combatants experiencing the same learning curve.

“All of those guys are really young inside of our program, inside of our offense, inside some of the fundamental things that we’re going to ask them to do to play the position how we want it to be played,” he said. “All of those guys I think have made huge strides throughout the summer.”

So, a triumvirate moves forward vying for a marquee gig atop one of college football’s hottest programs.

Added Johnson: “It’s going to be fun to see what fall camp is like.”

Camp begins July 31. The least fun will probably be had following every practice when reporters pry for any morsel of information from Heupel regarding his thinking at the sport’s most important position.

Heupel will probably reveal as much then as he did Tuesday. We will get a clear answer at some point. We just likely need to wait six more weeks to receive it.