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UTEP football: Quarterback position is unclear now, but the future is set

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As the season nears, we start to breakdown each position group on the depth chart, starting with the signal callers.

Alex Nicolas

"It's dead even," Sean Kugler said of the 2015 starting quarterback competition earlier this week.

All signs point to this Saturday's scrimmage as another heavy evaluation point for the quarterback spot in what has been a highly competitive competition between Mack Leftwich and Garrett Simpson since camp started back on August 6th.

"It will probably go down to the wire." Kugler said of the QB race, "I didn't want it to go that way, but it means they are competing. I look at it as a positive. They are working their tails off. Whoever wins, we're going to have an efficient starter and an efficient backup."

But behind the top two on the depth chart who we have talked about extensively here, UTEP possess some interesting quarterback depth in the future for a team who relies heavily on the run game.

We all know Simpson is the prototypical QB in this offensive scheme right now.

He stands 6'7, rocket arm with a deep ball specialty, above average touch, he's improved his patience in the pocket, and has the most experience in being on the depth chart.

We also know Leftwich is a proven winner in his past and is also a hard worker, with a mentally savvy approach combined with his pristine accuracy in the short passing game and is the favorite to start versus Arkansas.

But behind them will be developing dynamic athletes who fit the model of what UTEP asked Jameill Showers to do last year under center (or out of the shotgun spread look).

In a few years we could be talking about Ryan Metz v. Kavika Johnson just like we have now with Leftwich v. Simpson, and that's not a bad thing to have.

Metz has been consistently making plays since the spring, and will certainly find a spot somewhere either on special teams or within the offense this year.

He has great pocket awareness, and fires a beautiful deep ball which he has put on display a number of times during practices I have seen.

His decision making in certain situations is maybe why he finds himself behind on the depth chart today.  Although with the reps and experience he has gained since the start of the spring, those looks should sharpen his execution in certain situations with even more practice reps this fall.

"I'm a quarterback, but I'm also an athlete. They'll find a position for me," Metz told the El Paso Times. "The quarterback battle is between Mack and Garrett, but I see myself as never out of it. I've still got to learn what they are learning, do what they're doing. I could be playing sooner rather than later."

At first glance once he was signed, most of us thought Kavika Johnson just maybe the future at quarterback for UTEP.

But now the question may be what if he excels at another position this year?

Looking at his high school game film, the foot work, mobility and knowledge of how to skillfully move around in the pocket along with his breaking the big play gene stand out with him playing quarterback.

Right now, the game maybe a little too fast for him at quarterback.  Granted he's only had a handful of FBS practices under his belt, which is why we are seeing his position being moved around until it slows down for him to efficiently process the quarterback position in live mode.

His ability to make plays with his feet, and sharp mental toughness to learn other positions has him in the position to see meaningful playing time outside of the quarterback spot this season, but does this mean we will never see Johnson play quarterback at UTEP if he breaks out as a receiver or even running back?

Those questions will remain unanswered for another year or so.

But looking at the quarterback position as a whole for UTEP, there is a lot of uncertainty as of now but plenty of options in where UTEP will have a capable quarterback waiting in the wings for the next four seasons or so for whatever situation may arise.

They won't be expected to throw for over 2,500 yards, or chuck it 30 times a game, but what the coaches do expect is for them to learn how to be leaders of a winning team, manage the running game, and clock, and be able to sustain a drive on third downs.

MinerRush's Depth Chart Projection

Starter Mack Leftwich-Sophomore
Backup Garrett Simpson-Junior
#3 Ryan Metz-Freshman (RS)
#4 Kavika Johnson-Freshman
#5 Hunter McEachern-Freshman (RS)