Coltin Gerhart ran out with the first team as the quarterback during the University of New Mexico’s first practice of preseason camp Friday morning.
Coach Bob Davie urged the media not to read too much into that during what is expected to be a heated battle for the starting position that includes Gerhart, redshirt sophomore Tevaka Tuioti (Te-vah-kah Too-ee-Oh-tee) and junior transfer Sheriron (Sher-On) Jones.
But if you listen to Gerhart, a 5-foot-11, 214-pound senior, he believes he’s the guy.
He admitted to having first-drive jitters but once he settled in he was fine during a practice that featured the players wearing helmets, but no pads and not hitting.
“I’m just going to have to keep working hard,” Gerhart said. “I have to keep improving as a leader of this team and establish myself as the starter and have the guys look at me as the starter. Once I keep improving every day, by the end of fall camp I think it will be mine.”
Davie expects to change things up Saturday. Tuioti is slated to take the first snaps with the first-team offense.
Truth be told most of the positions on offense are up for competition.
“I’m excited to see as we go on who emerges as we put more in and as we scrimmage,” said Davie, entering his seventh season with the Lobos and coming off a 3-9 season. “We definitely have some talent.”
The three quarterbacks have more differences than common attributes. Gerhart is a quiet leader and has shown a strong work ethic throughout the summer, Davie said.
Tuioti is well-liked by teammates. He showed flashes of a strong arm, yet made some mistakes against the defense.
“When we are off the field we are friends, but when we are on the field it’s a competition,” Tuioti said of the quarterbacks. “To me it’s whatever the coaches want, whatever is best for the team. I don’t know where I stand yet, but we still have fall camp to prove ourselves. It’s exciting.”
Jones appears to be an impressive athlete at 6-3, 196 pounds. His ability to run and throw fits the new offense led by first-year offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, who was previously at Arizona.
Jones said he heard through an Arizona receiver, Cedric Peterson, that Magee is a great coach. That is one of the reasons Jones transferred to UNM.
Jones and Peterson played at Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, Calif.
Jones came out of Rancho Verde as a highly touted quarterback and went to Tennessee. He had planned to transfer to Colorado, only to change his mind and go back to the Vols. But then he transferred after he could not get past third on the depth chart. After a brief stop at Independence Community College in Kansas he played at Mt. San Jacinto in California. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Jones believes he has found a home at UNM.
“You just can’t come in with the mindset that I’m a leader already,” Jones said. “You got to earn the guys’ respect. When I first got here, a lot of guys didn’t know what to expect. I had to show them. Instead of telling them, I had to show them.”
Jones plans to keep showing them. The Lobos’ first practice in full gear will be Tuesday morning.
NOTE: Kentrail Moran, a redshirt sophomore running back, will miss the season after knee surgery Friday, Davie said.