Tulsa World: Union’s spring football practice ends with tight QB battle

By Barry Lewis, Tulsa World May 29 2019

Link to article: https://t.co/1QQqtKUug0

Union ended spring football practice Tuesday with a three-man quarterback battle that is as closely contested as when it started.

J.D. Geneva, Trent DeSmet and Rovaughn Banks are battling for the starting position and all have impressed coach Kirk Fridrich this spring.

“All three guys can throw the ball really well, all three bring something to the table,” Fridrich said. “If there was some separation now we would make that decision now, but currently there’s not. I would much rather make the decision earlier than later but until we can see a definite difference we probably won’t make that decision. It’s a tight race between the three.”

Geneva, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, is a senior who threw for 3,799 yards over the past two seasons at Coweta and is one of the Tigers’ career passing leaders. DeSmet, 6-3 and 200 pounds, is a senior who was Peyton Thompson’s backup last year and Banks, 5-10 and 180, is a sophomore.

“JD has a really strong arm, the ball comes out like a cannon, he’s definitely gifted throwing the ball,” Fridrich said. “He has a lot of game-time experience, he’s played for a couple years on Friday nights which helps him.

“Trent is definitely motivated to win the position. He has had a really good spring. He’s shown a great desire to be the guy this year with the way that he’s practiced. He’s a lot more focused during practice. He’s always had great confidence and a really strong arm.

“Rovaughn has a lot of good football ahead of him. When the play breaks down he can do with things with his feet, his speed. But he’s not just a runner; he can throw the ball really well. I really like what Rovaughn is going to be.”

Fridrich added that Geneva has looked more comfortable during the past week as he learns Union’s system.

“The best way I know how to describe it is it’s like learning a new language,” said Geneva, who has studied Spanish for two years and added about the competition, “Iron definitely sharpens iron. It’s definitely upped my game, made me pay attention more and learn the offense better.”

It’s been an interesting past two weeks for junior running back/cornerback AJ Green although he hasn’t been able to practice due to a hamstring injury suffered in a track regional. During that time, Green has received offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Tulsa and Baylor.

Green was surprised by all those offers this spring and said that “OU is the team I grew up liking.” He has been held out of practice because “we’re making sure I don’t come back too early,” and expects to be at full speed when the season starts Aug. 30 in Texas against Mansfield Lake Ridge.

Fridrich said about Green, “The physical maturity that he has — his size and strength and speed to go with that is about as good as anybody we’ve had. We’re real excited to see what he can do. Last year in JV games he didn’t really fit, he looked different than everyone else out there and we’re excited to see how that translates into varsity play.”

This will be Green’s first season as a varsity starting running back after seeing limited action behind Eastern Michigan signee Darius Boone Jr. last year.  TOP ARTICLES1/5READ MOREGallery: What Normandy, France looked like in 1944and what it looks like 75 years after D-Day

“I’m really excited about it, the whole team we’re all working hard, we’re all looking good,” Green said. “Everyone’s competing for a spot on the team.”

Union returns only seven of 22 starters from last year’s team that lost on the final play of the semifinals against Jenks.

“That’s added fuel to the fire,” Union center Gabe Cantu said.

Cantu and lineman Mason Givens each received offers from Pittsburg State on Tuesday.

A big goal this spring for Union was to identify players who can play on both sides of the ball — something Fridrich and his staff really started focusing on during a bye week last season.

“I really feel like we’ve developed some depth,” Fridrich said. “I’m really enjoying this group of kids — there’s not as many returning starters but it’s a tight group of guys.”

Because of construction around Union-Tuttle Stadium, Union’s team camp has been moved to Owasso and will be held from 2-5 p.m. Thursday with those teams joined by Booker T. Washington, Stillwater, Yukon and Bentonville (Arkansas).

Barry Lewis

918-581-8393

barry.lewis@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @BarryLewisTW

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