CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa redshirt freshman quarterback Will McElvain has emerged from a competition that started in the spring and will start next Saturday’s season-opener against Iowa State, head coach Mark Farley told The Gazette on Friday.
The Waterloo Courier first reported the news.
“Well, I think it was (Will’s) body of work — it was what he did in the spring, even what he did even last fall as a pure walk-on,” Farley said. “He walked on last fall and just did a great job behind Eli (Dunne) and Jacob (Keller) at that time. He’s had a good camp and he came up probably quicker than Jacob did in the first couple weeks, but Jacob, I’ll tell you what, I was about ready to (start Will) a couple weeks ago and Jacob really came on in that third week of camp and had a tremendous scrimmage. So we put it off just to solidify it, but it was (McElvain’s) body of work that made the difference.”
McElvain was an all-state honoree his senior season at Des Moines Lincoln. He’s the only Class 4A player to throw for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 in a season, which he accomplished in 2017.
As well as Keller, McElvain beat out true freshmen Nate Martens and Justin Fomby to be named starter. During UNI’s media day on Aug. 7, Farley revealed that the competition was more than likely down to Keller and McElvain, pointing out that the two returnees were more comfortable in the offense and further along in making adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
McElvain originally committed to Iowa State as a preferred walk-on defensive back before flipping his commitment to the Panthers in hopes of sticking at quarterback.
Farley said McElvain’s competitiveness and presence are what he likes most about the redshirt freshman.
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“(McElvain’s) got something about him,” Farley said. “It’s not just the skill-set and athleticism. It’s what he brings to the table. That demeanor that he brings that people can rally around.”
UNI’s season-opener at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames against Iowa State kicks off at 11 a.m. next Saturday (FS1).