Tyler O’Connor vs. Damion Terry — it was the battle everyone expected coming in to Michigan State’s 2016 spring camp. However, it appears that the battle never took off and that is because the future of the MSU quarterback position shined much brighter than anyone thought.
While it seems highly likely that O’Connor starts the season as the No. 1 quarterback, Saturday’s spring game had to give hope for the future of the position thanks to the play of two freshmen quarterbacks.
Most were anxious to see how highly touted 4-star signal caller Messiah DeWeaver would look, few were likely thinking about the name Brian Lewerke before this spring. That all changed as the spring camp went on, and based on how the day went in front of 51,000 announced fans at Spartans Stadium.
Lewerke, a redshirt freshman with little fanfare may have just showed why he is the long-term answer at quarterback. He has become a darling of the media throughout camp, but certainly lived up to the hype during Saturday’s Green-White game.
In fact, it is hard to not see Lewerke as the front-runner for the No. 2 spot behind O’Connor entering summer workouts and fall camp. This despite a state line that reads like this — 2 of 9 for 42 yards and one interception.
Lewerke didn’t get much help from a makeshift offensive line and plenty of parts that weren’t ready in the pass-catching area. What he did show was the ability to make quick reads and be confident in his decision-making.
There was a threaded pass up the seem to impress on one completion and plenty of arm strength shown off as well. With Lewerke, it is all about getting more reps, and with Damion Terry losing two fumbles in the spring game adding to his inconsistent spring there is plenty of opportunity available.
The redshirt freshman did have an interception on the last play of the day for the green team, but it wasn’t exactly an issue on his end and more of just a great athletic play by defensive lineman XX.
Just how impressive was Lewerke? Former Spartans quarterback Jim Miller came away impressed and so did quarterbacks coach Brad Salem — the latter’s praise speaking volumes.
“He’s a natural leader, can do it all in terms of reading defense,” Miller said, via MLive.com. “Piked up the offense quickly, he has had a year under his belt to digest the playbook, and they are starting to see good decisions, much like Kirk Cousins when he led the Spartans.”
As for Salem? He uttered words that should be music to MSU fans’ ears — Kirk Cousins.
“He throws the ball well and he’s one of the better athletes,” Salem said. “He’s similar to Kirk as a freshman, and he has a calmness about him, doesn’t seem to be shook.”
DeWeaver also showcased why he was such a highly thought of recruit, showcasing a powerful arm and avoiding mistakes while still clearly learning the offense of the Spartans.
The good news is that even if O’Connor is the man who leads this team in 2016, it appears that Lewerke and DeWeaver have showcased the stuff to give MSU a long-term answer at quarterback in the future.