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Published: Friday, 8/14/2009

Opelt's the man for Rockets

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Being a senior quarterback entering his fourth year behind center is usually a pretty cushy place to be.

Not so for University of Toledo signal caller Aaron Opelt.

On the Rockets first day of training camp last week, UT first-year coach Tim Beckman made it clear his depth chart was written in pencil meaning all the team s veterans, including Opelt, would have to prove themselves to the new coaching staff. Waiting in the wings if he faltered were junior Alex Pettee and redshirt freshman David Pasquale.

But now, with 12 practices in the books for the Rockets, Opelt has cemented himself as the starter.

Aaron has come in and done an exceptional job, Beckman said yesterday. He s a great person, great kid. He really wants to be a good football player.

Opelt ranks fifth in school history with 471 completions, seventh with 30 touchdown passes, and eighth with 4,807 passing yards.

Yet when you take into account the Rockets 3-9 finish last season and Opelt missing the last half of spring practices with a shoulder injury, the Fremont Ross product wasn t assured of anything.

Alex Pettee has impressed coaches with his throwing ability.
Alex Pettee has impressed coaches with his throwing ability.
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It s a competition, Opelt said. We should be pushing each other. I think Pasquale and Pettee are definitely pushing me, which is good for us. That s what we need at every position. Like coach [Beckman] said, there s no secure spot. You need to come out here and work every day, and that s what everyone s doing out here on the team.

The real competition among the quarterbacks now, however, is for backup duties between Pettee and Pasquale.

Pettee transferred to UT from Pierce Community College after his sophomore season and attempted two passes against Northern Illinois last season.

Pasquale was recruited out of Cape Coral High School in Florida as a quarterback but was moved to wide receiver, where he stayed through spring ball, before transitioning back to quarterback with the start of camp last week.

Each one s a little bit different, Beckman said. David s a little bit more of a run threat, and Alex is a little bit more of a throw threat. If we could put both of them together we d be real good.

Pasquale, who has drawn plenty of praise from Beckman and the coaching staff during camp, said the time he spent working at wide receiver has been invaluable to his development as a quarterback.

David Pasquale can be a dangerous runner.
David Pasquale can be a dangerous runner.
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It helped me learn the offense a lot better, Pasquale said. Coming from quarterback to wide receiver, you have to know what all the wide receivers are doing.

Pettee, who attended Hart High School in Santa Clarita, Calif. the same one as St. Louis Rams quarterback Kyle Boller and Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore said he s going to continue to prepare every week in case an opportunity comes along.

I just have to do what I can do and work hard every day, Pettee said. That s the only thing you can do as a player. We ll see how it goes.

RADIO AFFILIATION: UT and Rocket Sports Properties announced yesterday that WKNR (850 AM) in Cleveland has been added to the recently created Rocket Radio Network.

The other two stations in the network are WSPD (1370 AM) in Toledo, the flagship station for the network, and WDTW (1310 AM) in Detroit.

All three stations will carry every UT football and men s basketball game in 2009-10. UT women s basketball will continue to be carried in Toledo on WSPD s sister station, WCWA (1230 AM).

WKNR is a great addition to our Rocket Radio Network, UT athletic director Mike O Brien said in a statement. With the coverage areas of our three stations, Rocket fans from throughout much of northern Ohio and southeast Michigan will now be able to follow our football and men s basketball teams on the radio.

Contact Zach Silka at:zsilka@theblade.com.



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