BOWLING GREEN - After 15 days of spring football, including a spring game last Friday and a final practice yesterday, Bowling Green State University freshman quarterback Matt Schilz apparently gained the inside track on becoming the starter for the fall.
In a four-man race that includes fellow freshmen Aaron Pankratz, Kellen Pagel, and Caleb Watkins, Schilz, a 6-foot-2, 184-pound California native, closed out spring workouts as the most likely choice to succeed Tyler Sheehan as BG's No. 1 quarterback.
"The job hasn't been decided but I'd say that right now Schilz might be a little bit ahead of the other two [Pankratz and Pagel], but not by a wide gap," BG coach Dave Clawson said following yesterday's practice. "Right now he would take the first rep with the first offense.
"But he has not won the job. It's still open. He probably came out of spring slightly first in the pecking order."
Schilz, who served as a backup to Sheehan last season, played in more series than any other quarterback during the spring game. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards and was intercepted twice during the intrasquad confrontation.
Yet, Clawson believes Schilz has made greater strides during the two weeks of spring workouts than the other three quarterbacks. Pankratz and Pagel represent his closest competition to win the starting QB spot. Watkins, who enrolled before the spring semester, is the least experienced with BG's offensive system.
"It appears he's playing a little bit faster," Clawson said of Schilz. "Splitting the [backup] reps last year he got a little bit more experience with the offense. But again, it's not a wide margin and certainly the job is still open.
"We have 3 1/2 months before our next practice and guys can do so much between then and now and there's not that big of a gap that guys could certainly outwork other guys and pass them by in the next 3 1/2 months."
The Falcons capped spring workouts with yesterday's practice instead of the spring game serving as the closer because Clawson prefers to hold a final workout for a review session. NCAA rules allow football teams to meet 15 times during spring workouts.
"I don't like having the spring game be No. 15. I like it to be No. 14," Clawson said. "We evaluate it [spring game] and we make corrections. We spent a half-hour on both sides of the ball today just fixing problems that came up in the spring game."
Looking ahead to the start of practice in August, Clawson will welcome a huge freshman class of 25. With only six returning starters from last season's team that finished 7-6 overall and 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference, there are plenty of starting spots open for competition.
"A number of those guys are going to have a chance to play early," Clawson said. "Last year we redshirted about 80 percent of the freshman class because we had a lot of seniors. I don't think we'll have that luxury."
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