LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State quarterback Tyler Rogers was thrown in the fire in 2014.
Aggies coach Doug Martin won’t be in that situation in the future. There are four quarterbacks behind Rogers as the Aggies enter fall camp at the end of the month — a redshirt junior with four starts under his belt and three freshmen.
“I have the time to work with those guys,” Martin said. “Tyler was kind of thrown in there ready or not and he probably wasn’t ready that first year.”
Martin plans to redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Josh Adkins from San Antonio, Texas, Jeremy Hodge from Dallas and Cameron Matthews from Crowley, Texas, and enter the season with redshirt junior Nick Jeanty backing up Rogers.
“Nick continues to get better and I feel really good about him right now,” Martin said. “We will be live all spring and all the way through next summer.”
Although the freshmen QBs won’t play in 2017, Martin wants to groom them as much as possible so they are ready to compete with Jeanty for a starting job in the spring.
“The weight room is the No. 1 thing for all of those guys,” Martin said. “This is the year for them to learn the offense and when they aren’t getting reps in practice, to take advantage of the mental reps. I want all three of them to travel with us throughout the year so they can see what that is all like so they will be ready to go.”
Hodge and Adkins have been in Las Cruces for less than a month while Matthews was a greyshirt last season, which allowed him to practice this spring.
“I had a semester to sit back and realize how much I wanted to be part of the team,” Matthews said.
“Competition is always good. We all get along and understand that coach Martin will make the decision that will best help the team and that is what all three of us want.”
Matthews is listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. He opted to remain at NMSU after his older brother, Tyler Matthews, left the program prior to fall camp last season after transferring to NMSU from Southern Mississippi.
“I immediately told coach Martin that I wanted to meet with him and I told him that we are brothers, but we are different people,” Matthews said. “He made his decision based on what he felt he needed for himself. I came because I wanted to play here and my decision hasn’t changed at all.”
At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Hodge is an intriguing dual-threat option after accounting for over 50 touchdowns as a senior at Parish Episcopal last season. Hodge rushed for 1,218 yards and 25 scores but also considers himself a pocket quarterback.
“I’m looking for a lot of learning from (Rogers) and (Jeanty) and just take in what they are teaching us and learning from coach Martin,” said Hodge, who had a handful of FCS offers. “You don’t want to go outside of the comfort zone and try to do too much in the offense because then you start messing up. We run when we have to, which is a good thing about the offense.”
Adkins had an offer from Texas-San Antonio after passing for 6,600 yards and 66 touchdowns at Smithson Valley High School.
“I am just kind of coming in with the attitude of wanting to learn and get better and understand that we have a lot to learn,” Adkins said. “I just want to be in the ear of coach Martin and (tight ends coach) Chase Holbrook.
“Being in the film room and seeing them from last year and how they did things in pressure situations can help you become a better player.”
All three freshmen said they have gotten along since arriving on campus this summer, but they also know they will be competing against each other throughout the season and into the spring.
“They all bring a lot to the table,” Hodge said. “They are really good players and good leaders. I have learned from them just being here the past two weeks. They have pushed me and hopefully I’m pushing them.”
The ultimate goal for all three players to build on the foundation that was built from the rest of the roster, which is made up of primarily juniors and seniors.
“New Mexico State has always had a high-powered offense that puts points on the board with a lot of athletes who can make things happen,” Adkins said. “There are going to be some young guys who have to fill some big shoes. I think the strength coaches and the coaching staff will get us ready for that. We just have to follow the leadership of the guys who are doing it right now and hopefully we continue to move the program in the right direction.”