Hornets quarterback job up for grabs as opener vs. UD looms in two weeks

If the season started today, coach Rod Milstead said he would give the QB edge to Shayne Smith because he’s been in the program a year longer than anyone else. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Whoever will be taking snaps under center for Delaware State University on Aug. 29 is still a mystery.

But coach Rod Milstead hopes to have a clearer picture by the end of the week.

The Hornets quarterback position is still up for grabs ahead of the opener in 15 days at the University of Delaware. Delaware State has five quarterbacks on the current roster vying for the starting job.

“It’s still floating around,” Milstead said. “No one has taken the lead.”

Junior Shayne Smith is the only quarterback on the squad with any collegiate experience.

Smith started the final game of the 2018 season as a sophomore against Virginia Lynchburg. He helped the Hornets to a 41-7 victory and threw for 212 yards with three touchdowns on 16-of-19 attempts.

If the season started today, Milstead said he would give the edge to Smith.

“Only because he’s been in the program a year longer than anyone else,” Milstead said.

True freshman Tylik Bethea enrolled at Delaware State during the spring and has been with the Hornets since the spring camp. Bethea, from Abraham Lincoln High in Brooklyn N.Y., threw for 1500 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior in high school.

Another freshman, Jabari Blake, out of Heritage High in Lynchburg, Va., was sidelined due to an injury at the start of preseason camp. Blake was the VHSL Class 3 State Offensive Player of the Year in high school.

Local product Vincent Tascione (Polytech High) has also been receiving reps as a freshman.

“Hopefully we can pinpoint someone who is the front-runner soon,” Milstead said. “I’m excited. I know everyone wants to know who it’s going to be and I want to know too. That’s something I’m eager to find out.”

Shayne Smith started the final game of the 2018 season as a sophomore against Virginia Lynchburg. He helped the Hornets to a 41-7 victory and threw for 212 yards with three touchdowns on 16-of-19 attempts. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

With so many young players at the position, offensive coordinator Eric Day said the Hornets took things slow in the opening weeks.

“The younger guys, everything goes 100 mph for them now,” Day said. “They’ve never practiced at this tempo or ran this many plays early on in camp. We’re giving them all equal reps. We want them all to have an opportunity. This is kind of the week where we want to narrow down who are the guys we want to see get more reps.

“Right now it’s about them getting to understand the simplistic things,” Day added. “If you see everything, you see nothing. Right now they’re seeing everything. We’re just trying to simplify things. We’ve been a little slower installing things than I’d like to but that’s more for them than anybody else.”

Nine different quarterbacks have started at least one game for Delaware State since the start of the 2013 season.

The Hornets had different starting quarterbacks a year ago — Jack McDaniels, Keenan Black and Smith. McDaniels transferred to West Alabama this offseason while Black is moving to defensive back for his senior season at Delaware State.

Whoever is the quarterback, Milstead wants to improve on an offense which averaged 134.8 passing yards per game last season, the second-worst mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

“Our passing game is going to be something we really focus on over the next few weeks,” Milstead said. “We’re going to need that other tool in our toolbag offensively.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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