For the past two years, Elijah Sindelar battled David Blough for the starting quarterback job. Now that Blough has graduated, the fifth-year senior is ready to settle into the starting position and focus on making bigger strides in his game.
"I'm not gonna lie, it kinda feels good knowing that I'm coming in as QB1," Sindelar said after the first day of spring practice. "It gives me a sense of confidence that it's up to me. I don't have a choice, I've got to step up. I've got to lead the team and I gotta be a leader."
In the past, Sindelar not only had to develop as an individual, but also battle for a job every single rep. That work ethic has paid off for the offensive leader, who is embracing his new role.
"I'm enjoying that process," Sindelar said. "Now it's a really good chance where I can work on the leader aspect of being QB1, as well as my athletic game where I'm actually throwing the right passes."
Sindelar is fully recovered from a pair of injuries he fought through last season. Before the third game last fall, Sindelar suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury in practice that sidelined him. From the beginning of fall camp, he was also playing with tendonitis in his knee, a result of ACL reconstructive surgery the previous year.
Roughly two weeks ago, Sindelar filed paperwork to request a medical redshirt, which would give him another year of eligibility. He said that team officials expect to hear back in two to four weeks.
Behind him, sophomore Nick Sipe and redshirt freshman Jack Plummer are vying for the backup spot. Both watched Blough and Sindelar battle it out for the starting position, which helped the pair of young QBs learn how to approach spring practices and what mentality to have.
"Work as hard as you can and stay up no matter what," Sipe said. "Both of them have show incredible adversity and an ability to keep working hard no matter what happens."
Sipe has been focused on hitting the weight room, studying film, knowing the playbook inside and out and approaching each day the same. With a thin receiver group right now, reps have been hard to come by, but that is sure to change this summer, when a crop of receiving recruits hits campus ready to compete.
While Sipe is battling for the QB2 position, he also has been helping freshman quarterback Paul Piferi around campus. The two both attended Villa Park High School in Villa Park, California. A familiar face has been appreciated by both quarterbacks.
"It's cool, it's really cool," Sipe said. "I'm sure it's been helpful for him. I've been trying to show him around campus and help him through the playbook and through the day-to-day life here."
One name not to forget about is Aidan O'Connell, a sophomore quarterback from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
"(O'Connell's) done a really good job," said Brian Brohm, quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator. "He had a heck of a bowl practice set. He's right in there competing with those guys. ... I would not sleep on (O'Connell)."