Syracuse quarterback Charley Loeb is a self-described football junkie. That explains why he knows all about Todd Philcox, the Orange starting quarterback two years before Loeb was born.
''I know he got drafted in the NFL and played well as a backup for a number of years,'' said Loeb, who redshirted his freshman year at Syracuse when Greg Paulus was the starter. ''He did well in his single season as a starter here.''
Philcox was a rare breed, starting only during his final year at Syracuse because a guy named Don McPherson, who finished second in the 1987 Heisman Trophy balloting, was firmly entrenched. The wait was worth it: Philcox was 141 of 234 for 2,076 yards and 16 TDs with 11 interceptions in 1988, becoming one of only seven quarterbacks at Syracuse to throw for more than 2,000 yards. He went on to play nearly a decade in the NFL as a backup.
Loeb's career path so far has been somewhat similar. He's watched both Paulus in 2009 and then Ryan Nassib excel at the position for the Orange, who have two bowl wins in the past three years. A 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander from Monroeville, Pa., Loeb hopes the long wait has been worth it as his final year looms.
''If I get the chance to put up great numbers and have a great senior year, that's a blessing,'' he said. ''I think I have the capabilities of being a good performer. I don't want to label myself as a Todd Philcox or whoever. I love the opportunity - just get the chance to be out there and play.''
Getting that chance promises to be a hard-fought struggle. First-year coach Scott Shafer, a quarterback in his playing days, is splitting the reps in spring ball between Loeb, John Kinder and Terrel Hunt, a 6-3, 215-pound junior who has played in only one game for the Orange. The starter likely won't be named until preseason camp in August.
''I've been waiting my whole life for this, so to be actually reaching for it is the best feeling ever,'' said Kinder, a 6-3, 187-pound senior who played in two games last season. ''But it's tough. You're competing with each other, but at the end of the day, we're still friends. On the field, we're not enemies, but you've got to look out for yourself.''
Loeb has the most experience, but that's not saying much. He's played in 29 games, going 4 for 6 for 41 yards passing.
''I saw some good throws out there, saw some ugly throws out there by all of them,'' Shafer said after Sunday's scrimmage in the Carrier Dome. ''Charley made some good plays, too. All three of them have been getting a lot of reps. We're just going to put as many reps as we can on tape and make good decisions and come up with the best decision. But I like the work ethic of all three of them.''
One of Shafer's priorities is to create a niche for Ashton Broyld, a star dual-threat quarterback at Rush-Henrietta High in suburban Rochester, N.Y. As a freshman last fall, Broyld rushed for 171 yards and one touchdown on 36 carries and caught seven passes for 53 yards, but did not throw a pass.
''Last year we tried to do it. I wasn't quite ready. It was a lot for me. I was new,'' Broyld said. ''I'm glad I had a chance to mess with it. I don't have a particular position I want to play. I just want to touch the ball.''
That's not happening now. A high ankle sprain has relegated Broyld to the sidelines with less than two weeks left in spring camp.
''I think we know what skill sets he brings to the table, and how to use them,'' Shafer said. ''He'll be fine. He'll have all summer to get back preparing himself, watching videotape. He'll be ready to go, and we've got a good plan for him.''
The spring game is April 20 in the Carrier Dome.
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