By all accounts, Elon has not publicly named its starting quarterback for its season opener against Vanderbilt on Sept. 3.
Therefore, Commodores head coach James Franklin doesn’t believe he needs to give the Phoenix a heads-up by announcing his starter.
“Elon hasn’t announced their starting lineup yet have they?” Franklin asked after practice Wednesday night. “Yeah, it’s a competition. We are going to wait. We are not announcing ours until they announce theirs. It is kind of like running out on the field. You kind of have a competition to see who is going to wait to the last minute. We’ll see when we do that.
“… I pretty much have an idea of what I am going to do [for all positions]. We just haven’t announced it.”
Franklin said the gap between frontrunner Larry Smith and Jordan Rodgers isn’t huge and that the starting quarterback job is still up for grabs.
“They are still competing for that job,” Franklin said.
Smith is trying to hold onto a starting spot he has held for the last two years. Though he is 5-16 as a starter, Smith is the only Commodore quarterback with Division I experience. He has a 47.6 completion percentage with 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
“I am feeling pretty comfortable right now,” Smith said. “I think I had my ups and downs [during the first three weeks of fall preseason camp] but at the same time overall I think I had a steady improvement. I am taking it one day at a time and trying to get better. That is all I can really do right now.”
Rodgers, on the other hand, is getting in his first live repetitions in nearly a year, when he injured his right shoulder. The junior underwent surgery for a torn labrum during the winter and missed all of the spring practices.
It has been a steady progression for Rodgers, a junior college transfer. After missing the mark a lot during the first week of practices, he seems to be more accurate and possess more zip, especially on his shorter throws.
“I feel like you can always do more,” Rodgers said. “I feel like I have progressed how I felt I needed to after the first week or so when I felt like I made some mistakes.
“Larry has obviously had the upper hand with the experience he has had and taking most of the first team reps. So I obviously am in that chasing role but we have both got a ton better this camp. I think we both can bring some things to the table on game days.”
Rodgers might be chasing, but Smith says he isn’t far behind.
“He is real close,” Smith said. “Jordan has a great understanding of the playbook as well and he can make all the throws, all the reads. He is an excellent football player.
“I would flip a coin. Either one of us could start against Elon.”
• The Commodores got an up-close glimpse of Austyn Carta-Samuels, who should add a wrinkle to the 2012 quarterback competition.
The Wyoming transfer participated in passing drills (without pads) and spent a lot of time guiding the scout team on Wednesday. Carta-Samuels must sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules but has two years of eligibility left.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was named the 2009 Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. In two years with the Cowboys, he threw for 3,655 yards and 19 touchdowns in 21 starts. He ranks ninth all-time at the Wyoming in pass completions (345) and is 10th in total offense (4,413 yards).
“He is looking good,” Rodgers said. “He is a good asset to have to this team. He adds depth. It is great to have another arm around here.”
Smith is the only senior among the quarterbacks. Along with Rodgers, there is walk-on sophomore John Townsley and three freshmen — Josh Grady, Kris Kentera and Lafonte Thourogood.
• Elon has not announced its starting quarterback, but last week first-year coach Jason Swepson said Thomas Wilson is “taking a grip on it.”
Wilson, a redshirt junior, has played in 12 games over the last two years but has made just one start. He is 39-of-63 with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Wilson appears to have an edge on redshirt freshman Tyler Smith, who transferred from Maryland. He was mentored by James Franklin, who spent the last three years as the Terps’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. But Smith, a highly touted recruit from Pennsylvania, probably saw the writing on the wall as Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien was named the ACC Rookie of the Year.
Both Wilson and Smith are trying to succeed Scott Riddle, who was the Southern Conference’s all-time passing leader.
• Nearly a dozen Commodores wore red injury jerseys Wednesday, which was the last open practice to the media before Franklin switches to his closed-door regular-season practice policy.
Freshman offensive lineman James Lewis, however, shed his red jersey for the first time all fall and practiced with the scout team. He had been wearing an orthopedic boot on his left foot.
Defensive end Walker May, center Logan Stewart and wide receiver Brady Brown have been sidelined through the first three weeks of camp. Quarterback Lafonte Thourogood and walk-on linebacker Bobby Jewell did not practice at all. Others who wore red but participated in drills included wide receivers Jonathan Krause (wrist), Akeem Dunham and Chris Boyd, running back Jerron Seymour (leg), defensive end Johnell Thomas and safety Javon Marshall.