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Guadagni gets nod at starting quarterback for UT

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    University of Toledo junior Mitch Guadagni has been named the starting quarterback entering the 2018 season.

    Blade/Jetta Fraser

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    Mitch Guadagni speaks during media day at Larimer Athletic Complex at the University of Toledo in Toledo in August.

    Blade/Kurt Steiss

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University of Toledo football coach Jason Candle on Monday named junior Mitch Guadagni the team’s starting quarterback entering the season. The Rockets open at home Saturday against VMI.

Guadagni was in a competition all off-season with sophomore Eli Peters for the starting job, with true freshmen Carter Bradley and Cross Wilkinson as longshots for the job.

“I think it became a true two-horse race throughout the end of camp between [Guadagni] and Eli Peters,” Candle said. “Mitch separated himself. I think there will be a plan in place to play Eli early in the season. Mitch will be our starter and I don’t think it’s a situation where Mitch has to be looking over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake that he’s going to come out or we are going to replace him.”

Guadagni [pronounced GWA-dah-nee] had the experience edge over Peters, as he had served as backup to previous starter Logan Woodside the past two seasons. Guadagni has limited game action, appearing in 10 games and completing 1 of 6 passes for 16 yards and eight carries for 76 yards last year. Peters has not yet appeared in a game.

“We were looking for what guy could help move the offense the best, what guy could limit the mistakes and takes care of the football the best, and who is going to be most accurate with the football,” Candle said. “Mitch separated himself in those areas as we progressed through camp. Eli had some really good days, but the body of work over the period of time and the way the team rallied around a particular guy played a big part in this and that’s where we are today.”

Guadagni said he and Peters were brought into Candle’s office when they got the news.

“I’m excited about it, but I haven’t really proven anything yet so I have to just keep going,” Guadagni said.

With a week to prepare before the season opener, Guadagni was glad to learn what his role will be heading into the season.

“It’s nice to prepare knowing exactly what is going on with the game plan right now,” Guadagni said. “It’s nice going in knowing where you are on the depth chart. So I definitely have some stress off my back.”

Guadagni was a three-star prospect coming out of Hudson High School, where he passed for more than 2,500 yards and ran for more than 1,000 yards as a senior while earning first-team All-Ohio honors in Division I. 

Candle pointed to Guadagni building trust with his teammates as a key factor in his decision to name him starter. Guadagni thinks the team and coaching staff has faith in the quarterback room however that position plays out during the season.

“You really the need the trust there,” Guadagni said. “I think it’s a very strong room, so I think the team and the coaches trust everyone to make good decisions.”

BERG IMPRESSING: Candle said if the season started today, redshirt freshman and St. John’s Jesuit alum Mitch Berg would be the starting left tackle.

“He’s talented,” Candle said. “He was just underdeveloped from a strength standpoint when it comes to where he was last year. The skill level was there, just not the physical part of it. He changed his body in the off-season and he’s worked his way in there and really put his name in the hat.”

Joining Berg on the offensive line, according to Candle, would be Florida State graduate transfer Brock Ruble (right tackle), Brandon Heidecker (right guard), Bryce Harris (center), and Sami Kassem (left guard).

Yazeed Atariwa and Chandler Cotterman are working their way back from injuries and Cameron Bell, a candidate to play at left tackle, is a bit banged up going into the season.

RB DEPTH: Despite returning accomplished rushers in sophomore Shakif Seymour and junior Art Thompkins, Candle said Kentucky transfer and Springfield alum Bryant Koback has earned playing time.

“I think he’s earned the right to play,” Candle said. “He’s a very selfless guy and he has practiced very hard. He’s not the only guy, though. There is Ronnie Jones, Nevone [McCrimmon], and there is Nicholas Sims. That’s a group that I’ve always had a lot of admiration for because there is only one ball and they can be selfish and they never are.”

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

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