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Hunt stakes claim for starting QB job

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SYRACUSE — With the imminent arrival of Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen, Terrel Hunt knew he had to make the most of spring practice to get a leg up in the competition at starting quarterback for the Syracuse University football team.

And though first-year SU coach Scott Shafer isn’t likely to announce a starter until shortly before the Aug. 31 season opener, Hunt has shown he is up to the task.

The 6-foot-3 junior was the clear standout during Saturday’s annual spring game at the Carrier Dome, leading the White squad to a 27-7 victory over the Blue squad. The white squad consisted mainly of projected starters and the blue squad was made up of the expected second unit, with several players lining up for both teams.

“I’m just excited about the competition,” Shafer said. “Any time you bolster the roster with more numbers, obviously we think the kids can play that we’re bringing in, it creates more competition. I know when I played, when I was afraid of that guy behind me taking my job from me, I became a better player. And I feel that way at a lot of positions.”

“We’re going to figure out this quarterback thing,” Shafer added. “We got all summer to figure this thing out and see all the new faces that are coming in wearing the blue and orange. And I look forward to the competition as we start moving forward.”

Hunt completed 19 of 29 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, including a perfectly placed ball on a 49-yard streak to senior Jarrod West to open his group’s second series of the afternoon.

Both of Hunt’s touchdowns went to West, who led all returning wide receivers with 588 yards last year. He caught six passes for 82 yards on Saturday.

Shafer said that throughout the spring session, Hunt created “a little separation,” between himself and the other returning signal callers, seniors Charley Loeb and John Kinder. But the 6-foot-5 Allen, who has just one year of eligibility remaining, will be another player Hunt has to go through when preseason camp opens.

“When I first found out that he was coming, I went to go work out, because I don’t ever want to be a starter in spring and then lose the spot because another guy came,” Hunt said.

Hunt also showed the ability to read the defense on Saturday. He called an audible that resulted in a 39-yard touchdown run by sophomore George Morris III, a play that capped off a drive that started on the White squad’s own three-yard line.

“He threw some good balls out there and made some good checks against the pressure, which is higher learning for a young quarterback,” Shafer said. “(He) got us out of a couple bad plays, that was good to see.”

After winning the first phase of the competition, Hunt is preparing to enter preseason camp as the starter, which he described as a “dream come true.”

“It still doesn’t seem real to me yet, I’m still learning how to become the starting quarterback,” Hunt said. “I was learning how to fight for it, now I’m learning how to become the starting quarterback and all the responsibilities that it takes.”

CROWDED BACKFIELD

Morris III, hyped as one of the major standouts during spring practice, ran eight times for a team-high 69 yards and a touchdown Saturday.

Another newcomer, Devante McFarlane, took a pair of screen passes and weaved his way through defenders for a total of 47 yards.

Shafer said that he was pleased with both players during the spring session and each could contribute this fall in a backfield that already features four returning playmakers.

“We have good running backs. So we need to find a way to get them all on the field, be creative on offense. We got great competition,” Shafer said.

SU’s backfield includes incumbent starter and workhorse, senior Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley, who tallied 275 totals yards and three touchdowns in last year’s bowl game, dynamic sophomore Ashton Broyld and “tank back,” Adonis Ameen-Moore.

Smith gained 38 yards on 11 carries and Ameen-Moore ran the ball nine times for 17 yards Saturday. Gulley and Broyld both missed the game with injuries.

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