HUNTINGTON — First things first ... there is no starting quarterback competition on the Marshall football team.
That position is in the firm grasp of sophomore Isaiah Green, who is focused on starting his second year with the program.
While Green is undeniably going to open the season as the starter, that doesn’t keep Marshall head coach Doc Holliday from feeling as if he has two — and maybe, three — starting-caliber quarterbacks on his roster.
Backup quarterbacks Alex Thomson and Grant Wells have been solid in preseason camp and earned the praise of Holliday and offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey.
The two are in different situations. Thomson is a veteran senior with previous starting experience with Wagner and last season with Marshall. Wells is entering his first full season in college football after coming to the Thundering Herd as an early enrollee from George Washington High.
“Alex is a tremendous person, No. 1,” Holliday said. “He’s in the business school here and he loves this university, loves this place. He’s bought in to what we’re trying to do and you can see that.”
Holliday added that Thomson looks healthy for the first time in his tenure with the Herd. When he came to Marshall as a grad transfer prior to the 2018 season, Thomson was coming off a shoulder injury, but did not seem fully recovered as the season went on.
With rest in the offseason and subsequent work in the spring and then in the summer workouts, Thomson came into fall camp at 100 percent and has looked the part, showing increased velocity on his throws while really honing in his touch on deep balls — something that he struggled with in 2018 when he started four games for Marshall.
“You can really tell that he’s right this year,” Holliday said. “I don’t know that he ever got there last year. He’s playing well, and it’s good to see.”
Cramsey added that Thomson’s experience is a valuable asset in the position room also.
“Alex hasn’t played a whole lot here — four games — but he’s played a lot of football in his life,” Cramsey said. “He’s already at the point where he’s heard other coaches say what I’m saying differently. Now, in year two, we can all communicate the same way and speak the same language.”
On the other side, Wells is ingesting all that Cramsey can throw at him in his first preseason, and Holliday has been impressed by what he’s seen out of the in-state product.
“Grant’s as good of a young freshman as I’ve ever been around,” Holliday said. “He’s just a true freshman, but you don’t think it. You think he’s been around here a long time, but he’s just a true freshman this year. He’s a tremendous player with a lot of potential and talent. We’re glad he’s here. He just has to continue to develop.”
Wells’ acceleration in learning the system is a product of his decision to enroll for the spring semester, which enabled him to join the team in January.
Holliday said it was forward thinking on the part of Wells, and he is reaping the benefits.
“Not only the mental part of it, but the physical part,” Holliday said. “He’s in the weight room and he was a part of us all winter and all summer, so he’s so much further ahead than a normal freshman would be — especially at the quarterback position. That kid can play for anybody. He’s a good player that can make all the throws.”
Given Marshall’s season opener is against VMI — a Football Championship Subdivision opponent picked to finish last in the Southern Conference and has won just six games in four seasons — there is a more-than-likely chance that Thomson and Wells see time on the field next weekend when the Herd opens the 2019 season against the Keydets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
If that time comes, Holliday said each will be ready because of the work put in during camp.