HUNTINGTON — Ever since committing to Marshall in 2017, Charleston native Grant Wells has dreamed of being the Thundering Herd’s starting quarterback.
As Marshall started preseason camp for the 2020 season on Friday, Wells was one step closer to his goal.
While Wells and redshirt sophomore Luke Zban are in line to compete for the starting quarterback spot, the fact remains that neither has attempted a pass in a college game.
That fact keeps Wells grounded as the former George Washington High School standout continues toward his goals of becoming the Herd’s starter.
“It’s no mystery that I’m the new guy out there right now,” Wells said. “We’ve got seven starters returning on offense. We’ve got the offensive line, the MVP [running back Brenden Knox] coming back, so really it’s just earning the trust of those guys out there. That’s really been what I’m trying to do — just help this team as much as possible.”
Wells knows that all eyes are on the quarterback position as camp opens.
After all, he is potentially replacing Isaiah Green, who started 22 games in two years and was expected to enter his third year as a starter before his abrupt exit from the program two weeks ago.
The exit caught everyone off guard, including his teammates, who took to social media to voice their surprise.
Now, Wells and the other quarterbacks are trying to build that same chemistry in a reduced amount of on-field work after having the spring sessions — which, in hindsight, would’ve been huge — eliminated due to COVID-19.
It is an uphill battle, and Wells knows that there will be some bumps, but he also understands that he has to play his game and progress with offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey while trusting the veterans surrounding him.
Cramsey has spoken at length about Wells’ football IQ and his athleticism, which have put him in position to compete for the spot — even before Green’s exit.
“Grant’s just got to be Grant,” Cramsey said. “He has a great skill set and he wants that spot. He’s got to play within himself.”
Cramsey said that, even in 2019, there wasn’t a day in which Wells didn’t ask him if he’d get a chance at the spot one day.
Now, Wells essentially has just over two weeks to prove himself as that guy during what might be the toughest conditions that college football has ever seen.
There is pressure that comes with that situation, and Wells is embracing that as camp begins.
“Sure, always,” Wells said of the pressure. “I feel a little pressure, not only for the fans, but also the guys in the locker room — to earn their respect. So yeah, I feel some pressure.”
Wells said that the best thing he has going for him in the situation is the veteran presences who will surround him within the offense.
“One thing I like the most is that I’ve got all those guys around me,” Wells said. “If I make a mistake, the ball is in the MVP’s hands [Knox]. I’ve got the best offensive line in Conference USA in front of me. That takes a lot of worry out of me.”
Knox said that with a new quarterback in the mix, the veterans among the offense have to do everything in their power to embrace Wells and the other quarterbacks to keep the offense moving forward.
“Realize that you are one of the vets and take Grant under your wing,” Knox said. “He’s young. You have to remember he’s two to three years younger than the rest of us. A lot of the playmakers are older than him. Knowing that, we’ve got to put our arms around him, embrace that and just encourage him on the little things he accomplishes and build off of that — build his confidence up a little bit.”
As Knox pointed out, it wasn’t long ago that he was in a similar spot — as a young player trying to prove himself in every way possible in 2018.
Knox said that being consistent and learning each day is the key to success.
“He’s young, so you know there’s a lot to soak up,” Knox said. “The ceiling is high because he hasn’t done anything yet in the program. He can only get better.”