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HomeSportsUT
Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2010

UT's Dantin leading QB candidate

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
University of Toledo quarterback candidates are, from left, Alex Pettee, Austin Dantin, Terrance Owens, and David Pasquale.
Sophomore Dantin has been listed as No. 1 on the depth chart. University of Toledo quarterback candidates are, from left, Alex Pettee, Austin Dantin, Terrance Owens, and David Pasquale. Sophomore Dantin has been listed as No. 1 on the depth chart.
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Sweat dripping off his forehead, Austin Dantin looked like a guy that had just been put through the wringer following the University of Toledo football team's first set of two-a-days Tuesday.

If he's named the starting quarterback for the Rockets' season-opener Sept. 3 against Arizona, it'll all be worth it, though.

Slotted into the No. 1 spot at the quarterback position on the preseason depth chart, Dantin, a 6-foot-2, 189-pound sophomore from Tallahassee, has so far held his place leading the offense nearly a week into training camp.

"Austin has had five pretty good days," UT coach Tim Beckman said Tuesday. "He's still in there as the No. 1. He's been very accurate, and his arm strength has gotten better because of the work that he's put in in the offseason."

Redshirt freshman Terrance Owens, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound left-hander from Cleveland, has proved to be Dantin's main challenger, with sophomore David Pasquale and senior Alex Pettee left to battle it out for third-string duties, Beckman said.

Beckman added that freshman quarterback Dwight Macon has been moved to wide receiver but is still taking some snaps behind center.

"It's a continual battle at that position," Beckman said. "I don't really have a [definitive] timetable, but I would say that last week [of camp leading up to the Arizona game], we better have it pretty well set."

While filling in for an injured Aaron Opelt last season, Dantin completed 79 of 119 pass attempts (66.4 percent) for 962 yards in seven games and had four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Because of his game experience, Dantin got the first look behind center during spring workouts and did enough to maintain his spot atop the depth chart heading into training camp.

"I think I'm miles ahead of where I was in the spring," Dantin said. "I do think of it as a battle, but at the same time, I'm just going out there and trying to do my best and trying to make this team better and do everything I possibly can to get us to where we need to be Week 1."

Listed as the fourth-string QB on the preseason depth chart released last month, Owens has made great strides in the first week of camp and still has a chance to steal the starting job away from Dantin, despite sitting out last season as a redshirt.

"It's a learning process for him," Beckman said of Owens. "He hasn't had the same opportunities that the other quarterbacks have had in terms of game experience, but he's gradually getting that. He's on a roller coaster, where he's up sometimes and down other times, so we need to get him more on a consistent level. But he definitely has the athletic ability and the arm strength."

Owens credits his speedy ascent to productive spring and summer workouts, studying plenty of practice film and the guidance of quarterbacks coach Scott "Izzy" Isphording.

"I worked hard during the spring to get myself better," Owens said. "I'm just developing. I understand the defense a lot better, and that's come from spending a lot of time with coach Izzy.

"All the quarterbacks, we're just trying to get better - trying to better ourselves while also helping the team. We all just want to get a [championship] ring."

PAGE WATCH: Sophomore wideout and Springfield graduate Eric Page was one of 51 players across the country named Tuesday to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which recognizes the top receiver in college football.

Page led all freshmen nationally with 82 receptions and 1,159 receiving yards last season.

"The sky's the limit for him," Dantin said of Page. "Eric's an unbelievable talent and unbelievable player. Every time he steps out on the field, there aren't many defenders in this country that can guard him. But I think it's his football IQ that really sets him apart. He's going to be a real weapon for us this season."

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.



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