Quarterback competition takes shape in Grizzlies pre-season camp
By JJ Gerlach | For Alamosa Citizen
COMING into the 2022 season, the Grizzlies have a big question to ask: Who will be their new starting quarterback?
Adams State’s preseason camp is starting to answer the question.
The Grizzlies lost both of last year’s top quarterbacks, John Buska and Bradley Smith. Enter Mark Salazar and Marckell Grayson (pictured above), who are competing for the job.
“We’ve got a pretty good battle going on between Mark and Marckell. The biggest thing is to have these guys executing at a high level,” said offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach Adrian Riley.
Salazar, who transferred from San Diego State, took most of the first team reps Friday. Grayson, who will begin his second year in Alamosa, is a transfer from UNLV and also looked sharp in his reps during practice.
“The biggest thing is obviously protecting the football and getting some completions and leading the team,” said Riley of what he is looking for in a starter.
Both guys have kept it clean so far, with neither making many mistakes early in camp. Asked if he had a favorite between the two going into the session, Riley said, “It’s close. We’ll end up making a decision sometime next week. We love what’s going on right now with these two.”
Need for offensive improvement
Adams State will be looking for much more this year from the quarterback. Last year the Grizzlies had only a combined 19 passing touchdowns from quarterbacks and finished tied for seventh in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and had the same seventh spot in passing yardage.
Maybe the key component is the offensive line, which will be anchored by this year’s team captain, tackle Jean Marcellus. “I’m expecting this team to be together, unity. It’s going to be a different atmosphere knowing that we got a chance to win, knowing that we got a chance to compete and improve every day,” Marcellus said.
Camaraderie of the offensive line
Last year, the Grizzlies gave up 25 sacks, losing 201 yards combined over the season, so protection will be a place for improvement. “I feel pretty great, we have the tightest chemistry that we could ever ask for as an offensive line,” Marcellus said.
Having all five guys in check at the line moving bodies in the run game and creating pockets and time for the eventual starter at quarterback will be the key to the offense, and the guys in the trenches usually become family due to the nature of the position.
“We’re always together, running, film and everything, and as a leader, I can be able to make sure my offensive line is great and make sure we are good for the season,” said Marcellus. He is in his second year at Adams State after transferring from NCAA Division 1 USF and knows what it means for an offensive line to be great and the difference that it can make over the course of a season.