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Amid QB competition, UT's Guadagni, Peters value friendship

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    Mitch Guadagni, pictured in UT's spring game, is in a competition with Eli Peters for the starting quarterback job this season.

    BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

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    Quarterback Eli Peters receives a snap during the UT spring game. Peters is in competition with Mitch Guadagni for the starting quarterback spot.

    Blade/Katie Rausch

University of Toledo junior Mitch Guadagni and sophomore Eli Peters have grown together in their time in the quarterbacks room with the Rockets.

From sharing backup duties to spending time in the film room and having position meetings to being together off the field, Guadagni and Peters have a bond that has grown through shared experiences.

Now, Guadagni and Peters are spending their summers preparing for a competition for the starting quarterback spot this season. As the close friends compete against one another to lead a Toledo offense flush with playmakers, they don’t think they will lose sight of what has made them friends.

“It’s difficult because you want the best for him because you are so close,” Guadagni said. “But you also want the best for yourself. It’s kind of a hard game you have to play with each other, but whatever happens I hope the best for him. He’s my best friend and it’s tough, but it’s almost more fun that way because you can talk to each other and you can make plays and congratulate each other. There is no hostility. It just makes you really enjoy the moment.”

Peters thinks the competition will help them bring out the best in one another.

“There is sometimes that elephant in the room because we are competing against each other,” Peters said. “I think it makes us more driven and I think we are going to get better because of it. We can talk a little garbage to each other and let each other know what we are doing wrong. We can be straight up with each other.”

Guadagni, at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, was a prolific passer and rusher at Hudson High School in northeast Ohio. He has had a little more time learning the Toledo offense than Peters, and brings another dynamic to the position with his running ability.

“I believe in Mitch Guadagni and I think that whatever Mitch wants to do, he can do,” said Ron Wright, Guadagni’s coach at Hudson. “He’s at a point right now where it’s his time to prove himself.”

Peters, at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, is from Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville. He redshirted his first year at Toledo and has not appeared in a game. He has good arm strength that gives him the ability to make throws to all areas of the field, which could be key given the Rockets’ talent and depth at receiver.

“Eli is a pretty headstrong kid,” Sandalwood coach Adam Geis said. “I think he’s confident, and I think you have to be as a quarterback. I don’t think you can throw anything at him defensively that he is going to be scared of.”

Peters said once he arrived at Toledo, it didn’t take long for him and Guadagni to become friends.

“Ever since I got here, me and Mitch, we bonded and came together,” Peters said. “We have rooted for each other and got each other better since Day 1. He’s someone I can count on, and he knows I’m someone he can count on. He’s a great guy and he’s one of those guys that gets along with everybody on the team. He really gets people behind him and he’s a leader for sure.”

Guadagni said Peters is outgoing off the field.

“He has a good time,” Guadagni said. “He’s a ball of energy and everyone wants to be around him.”

Toledo offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Wright said the competition presents a new challenge for the coaching staff. It brings a new feel to the offseason compared to last season, when record-setting passer Logan Woodside was penciled in as the starter and led the Rockets to their first Mid-American Conference title since 2004.

Wright and the Rockets staff will evaluate every aspect of the quarterback play, along with the leadership ability of Guadagni and Peters.

So far, Wright is impressed with how the two are balancing their friendship with the rigors and stresses of being in a competition for playing time.

“They are selfless,” Wright said. “They want what is best for the team first. Certainly both of them want to be the starting quarterback, but both of them root for each other along the way. The end goal is to have the best football team that we can possibly have and those guys know that their competition will help us get there.

“They have a good relationship with one another and that’s part of being a team. That is usually formed in that competition because they are both going through the same things. They both want to be the starter. They both know there are things to get better at. They are both learning the offense together. With that, I think, brings some commonalities that bring them close together.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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