HUNTINGTON — Just over one year ago, Marshall quarterback Grant Wells started his climb to becoming the Thundering Herd’s starting quarterback.
Wells was thrown into the situation with the sudden departure of two-year starter Isaiah Green, but Wells successfully made the transition, throwing for 2,091 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions in 10 games.
Those numbers made Wells a first-team All-Conference USA selection and the league’s Freshman of the Year in a season in which the Herd climbed to as high as No. 15 in national rankings.
The accolades did not come without their share of speed bumps, though, especially at the end of the year, when the Herd dropped three straight games and Wells struggled with accuracy issues.
Since the end of the season, Wells has used those struggles as motivation, and teammates rave that Wells has elevated his game from both physical and mental standpoint to be a much better leader for the Herd in 2021.
“You can tell that Grant’s grown up a lot,” Marshall receiver Talik Keaton said. “Last year he was a redshirt freshman and he had the jitters and stuff, but now he goes about the day like he’s been doing it — not a big-head type of way, but he’s just more confident.”
Marshall offensive lineman Alex Mollette agreed that Wells seems different.
“He’s not a freshman anymore,” Mollette said.
Well, technically, Wells is a freshman, thanks to the NCAA’s granting of another season of eligibility. That makes Wells a third-year freshman — one of many oddities produced by COVID-19.
Regardless of his designation, Wells wants to be the veteran in the room and the person his teammates go to when in search of leadership.
It’s an area he has emphasized in recent months.
Wells said there is a big change from how he approached things at this time in 2020, while trying to earn the starting quarterback position, to now, when he knows that he is expected to fill that role on Sept. 4 when the team opens the season at Navy.
“To me, it’s a totally different mindset that I had last year,” Wells said. “Last year, I was really focused on earning that job and focusing on myself. Now, I know that this is my team.”
That leadership is seen in all aspects — watching film with the staff, working in the weight room, and especially getting in extra work with receivers against the team’s defensive backs.
Wells said knowing where he’s going with the ball and explaining to his receivers what he’s seeing out of coverages is one of the biggest growths he’s had.
Again, that comes down to confidence and added experience.
“I can work with the receivers and get that same mindset with them,” Wells said. “What we’re working on right now is going to pay off in November and December.”
Wells and the Herd do not have many off-season workouts left. Preseason practice begins on Aug. 5.