UND's starting quarterback in 2019 was veteran Nate Ketteringham. His backup, before an injury limited his availability, was senior Andrew Zimmerman.
With those two players gone, UND's quarterback group is a lot younger now. But Fighting Hawks coach Bubba Schweigert said there's more competition there as spring camp continued Thursday for Day 6 at the High Performance Center.
"The room itself, I think the guys are focused on helping each other but we have some competition," Schweigert said. "That always makes you better. I think in the competitive part of it, we're far ahead of where we were a year ago. The guys need to boost each other but be competitive to earn playing time."
The No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart is redshirt freshman Tommy Schuster, who made his debut at the Alerus Center against No. 24 Sam Houston State. After injuries to Ketteringham and Zimmerman, Schuster was 17-for-33 for 165 yards and a touchdown in the Fighting Hawks' victory.
Schuster, 6-foot and 195 pounds, was the 2018 AP Player of the Year in Michigan.
"Tommy had some game experience so we see a knowledge of the offense because he had to prepare like he was playing a year ago and that carries over," Schweigert said.
The No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart is Quincy Vaughn, a 6-4, 240-pound true freshman from Hamilton, Ont.
"Quincy Vaughn is making progress every day," Schweigert said.
The third quarterback vying for playing time in the spring of 2021 is Brock Boltmann, a former quarterback turned wide receiver who was used in a bit of a wildcat role in 2019.
"Brock, we're looking to use him at quarterback and expand the pack of what he's ready to do," Schweigert said.
Here are the details from Day 6:
The scene: UND practiced in full pads Thursday, going through drills from 7:30 a.m. to a little after 9 a.m. at the High Performance Center. Outside, temperatures were about 20 degrees warmer than Wednesday but that only meant about 3 degrees above 0.
Participation note: Safety Jordan Canady, cornerback Sam Robertson and wide receiver Elijah Klein remain out, while defensive back Haley Bucholz, who has spent time sidelined, was back in drills.
Play of the day: UND's first team session early in practice saw Tommy Schuster hit on a long crossing route to Adam Zavalney, a wide receiver turned tight end from Park River.
Looking good: UND's quarterback-center exchanges were mostly on point after a few days of the occasional mishandle.
Needs work: Wide receiver drops. After a tough day for UND quarterbacks Wednesday, the group bounced back with some nice tosses Thursday that could've been aided by the wide receiver group.
Day 5 notes
- UND rookie wide receiver Bo Belquist, a New Rockford-Sheyenne product, had a monster practice day, catching quite a few balls, both on bubble screens and longer routes. After being fairly quiet during the fall, Belquist is starting to become an interesting option at wide receiver.
- Belquist's rookie position mate, Marcus Preston, also had a solid day. Preston, who really stood out in the fall, has had a relatively quiet camp before breaking out Thursday. Schuster hit Preston on a long crossing route and later in practice Ethan Postler hit Preston on a slant route in traffic.
- Rookie offensive lineman Andrew Fenton had a pancake block late in team drills when the offensive gave some reps to some of the more inexperienced players.
- The Hawks spent a lot of time on the short passing game Thursday, especially with wildcat quarterback Brock Boltmann, who is running the offense at times out of a wide variety of looks.
- UND has spent a lot of reps in teams drills with Otis Weah at running back and Luke Skokna on the field at the same time, often lined up in different places. It's clear that UND plans to utilize a deeper backfield than 2019.
- Boltmann showed his versatility by making one of the better grabs of the day at wide receiver, too. After a couple of wide receivers couldn't make tough grabs on out routes, Boltmann followed by showing why he's a top target in the passing game by going fully out-stretched to make a catch.