CEDAR FALLS — Health and a four-way quarterback battle loom over Northern Iowa’s spring football practices.
UNI Coach Mark Farley revealed Monday that Trevor Allen, Mason Neisen, Nick Ellis, Isaiah Weston, Chris Kolarevic and Jared Brinkman will miss all or parts of the spring.
Ellis and Weston are expected to have limited participation and Farley was optimistic about Weston, who was a Missouri Valley Football Conference preseason honoree before tearing his ACL late in fall camp last season.
Farley hopes who’s throwing to Weston can become clearer by spring’s end, but stated that he doesn’t expect a starting quarterback to be named until well into fall camp.
“It’s (an) open game,” Farley said. “The best will play whether they’re a true freshman three weeks before their first game or three months before their first game. It’s who can best fit and who’s most efficient. Justin Fomby is on the table as much as Jacob Keller is on the table and (everyone) in between.”
Nate Martens, a three-star freshman recruit who’s an early enrollee, will compete with returnees Will McElvain and Keller in 15 spring practices.
McElvain, who established himself as the Panthers’ third-string QB last season and received a good portion of second-team practice reps, stands only 5-10, but Farley explained that height doesn’t hold QBs back.
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“Go watch the quarterbacks that are getting drafted (to the NFL),” Farley said. “It’s not the size anymore (in) this style of offense. Will McElvain is probably as dynamic as any of the quarterbacks that are on our campus right now.”
Tight end, running back and linebacker were other positions Farley says he’s focused on. Aaron Graham, who spent his first three seasons at slot receiver, has been moved to running back. Graham was a standout running back in high school and will compete with Allen, Tyler Hoosman, Alphonso Soko and Sam Schnee for carries.
“Who are the other running backs with (Allen)?” Farley said. “Who are those running backs? Because you need two, if not three.”
Farley also announced additions and changes to his staff. Isaac Freuchte, who most recently coached at Division-III Wisconsin-La Crosse was announced as wide receivers coach. Keelon Brookins returns as a graduate assistant and assistant defensive backs coach. First-year offensive coordinator Ryan Mahaffey’s running game will be coordinated by second-year assistant Ryan Clanton while Nick Danielson will add running backs to his tight end coaching duties.
Two more coaches could be hired, but Farley was non-committal to doing so.
Barring too many injuries, UNI has scheduled its spring game for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27.