OGDEN — One of the more surprising parts of the offseason lingered Wednesday as Weber State football signed its 2020 recruiting class.
Two weeks before signing day, senior-to-be and incumbent quarterback starter Jake Constantine entered the transfer portal and is seeking a new football home for his final college season.
Weber State signed one high school quarterback in Abraham Williams, though he was recruited to play non-quarterback skill positions, and 2018 QB signee Bronson Barron will return home from a mission.
But Constantine’s decision felt sudden and surprising. The offense for the No. 3 team in the country returns all but one player and it was going to be his ship to captain.
“It’s always a possibility for a guy you know is going to graduate and who’s had some success here,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said Wednesday. “I don’t really have a lot to say other than, does it hurt us? I don’t know. Does it help us? I don’t know. Time will tell on how these other quarterbacks develop.
“I am excited to watch Kaden Jenks get back healthy. I’m excited to watch how Kylan Weisser will take off with this, which I believe he will. We’re looking forward to what’s going on.”
Hill said many players who enter the transfer portal end up pulling out and most who do leave their original school end up dropping down a level — which isn’t what players hope to accomplish by entering the portal.
Football and basketball coaches across the country have expressed their philosophies about how to react when players enter the transfer portal. Some coaches will work hard to “re-recruit” a player to get them to stay, while others feel a players’ entrance into the portal signifies they’ve moved on, so the coach and team will move on, too.
Hill said he takes it on a case-by-case basis.
“It depends on how they leave. If they go in the portal but they’re still working out with us and it’s a situation I understand, I might let them back. If they’re leaving and I don’t necessarily agree with the reasoning or how they went about it, then we don’t want them back,” he said. “Each situation is different.”
Another player in the portal is senior-to-be and No. 2 running back Kevin Smith Jr.
“His situation’s a lot different than Jake’s. He’s continued to work out with us, he’s been around. We’ll handle those as they go.”
Hill said Wednesday that his staff has held one or two open scholarships in the event they can grab a graduate transfer or some other player who can make an impact.
The quarterback position is an obvious spot for such a move, but it’s a place Hill said he’ll be patient.
“I’m almost certain we can win with the guys we have here. Now, spring ball will tell me a lot,” he said about his quarterbacks. “There’s a lot of grad transfer guys in the portal right now I can’t talk about, there’s a lot of other guys who have contacted with us with interest. Once I get through spring, I might know more about some of those other guys.”
Hill knows some of the reasons the gap, while shrinking, still exists between his No. 3 program and stalwarts North Dakota State and James Madison.
“We should (upgrade where we can). Quite frankly, that’s part of why this is an opportunity because I’m hoping we can get better at that spot,” he said. “We all know we’ve got to throw the ball better. We just finished third in the country and we weren’t very good throwing the ball. If we can get better in that area and keep the other areas playing at a high level, we’ve got a chance to be really good.”
WSU returns every offensive starter except lineman Xavier Stilson and, on signing day, added rangy 6-foot-5 receiver Jordyn Turner to the stable of Devon Cooley, Rashid Shaheed, Josh Davis, David Ames, Ty MacPherson and Justin Malone as playmakers to put on the field.
“We’ve got weapons, we’ve got to do a better job getting them the ball,” Hill said.