OGDEN — A handful of quarterbacks contested for Weber State’s starting quarterback role for the 2018 season, starting in March during spring camp.
Monday, coaches named Kaden Jenks as the winner of the battle and the man to lead the Wildcats’ offense for the opener against Utah when the school released its Week 1 depth chart.
Down the stretch in fall camp, Jenks appeared to be a in a final group with sophomore Jake Constantine and senior Rathen Ricedorff.
“He’s been playing great. I like what he gives us with his legs and his arm. He’s got a strong arm, he’s athletic. I like where he was at,” head coach Jay Hill said about Jenks. “I don’t know that it came down to one miraculous day, just that over time, we liked how Kaden was playing.”
Jenks signed with Weber State in 2017 and redshirted last season. He and Constantine shared the bulk of practice reps after Ricedorff suffered a hamstring injury and was limited in practice. Jenks helped lead Royal City (Washington) to two state championships with a 27-0 record to end his high school career.
The 6-foot-2 quarterback showed ability to throw to all levels of routes and mobility to keep defenses honest during camp.
Constantine is a sophomore who redshirted at Boise State before transferring to Ventura College for his freshman season. At Ventura, he was named first-team quarterback for all California junior colleges after throwing for 2,385 yards and 28 touchdowns with a 68 percent completion rate, averaging 216.8 passing yards per game.
“Jake Constantine battled and fought and clawed and dug, and we’re going to need him,” Hill said.
Ricedorff began his career at Arizona State after serving a two-year mission, then transferred to Mesa Community College where he became the national junior college player of the year in 2016. He signed with Boise State but was ruled ineligible for the 2017 season due to an NCAA violation and spent the season grayshirting at Weber State.
“That was an unfortunate injury he had, but he’s got to get back and healthy,” Hill said about Ricedorff. “When he’s an athletic, run around-type quarterback, when you pull a hamstring …”
There weren’t expected to be many other surprises on the depth chart, though there are some notable moves at some positions.
At running back, Treshawn Garrett is starter while freshman Kris Jackson is listed as his backup. Kevin Smith has been out recovering from a leg injury while Jackson earns the nod over other backs like David Jones, Cameron Smith and Cam Hansen.
“I loved Kris Jackson on high school film. He came in just a little bit out of shape and as camp’s gone on and his shape has improved, I mean, he’s a natural runner,” Hill said. “Physical, strong. He’s going to have one heck of a career here and we love where he’s at.
“There’s other guys in that mix, too, who have played a lot of football for us and I expect those guys to get better and better.”
Sophomore Cole McGinnis gets the start at left guard. Baron Bruce was the only starter lost from last season and Weber’s plan to replace him took a hit when Mo Cannon went down with a leg injury last week. Hill said Cannon has a recovery time of about four weeks.
In the secondary, Parker Preator wins a contested cornerback spot, with Keilan Benjamin unsurprisingly on the opposite side, while Jawian Harrison and Jordan Preator making up the starting safeties. Trey Hoskins should also see plenty of time in the defensive backfield.
“I really like how they’ve come along,” Hill said about the cornerbacks. “I like the development of Marque Collins. That kid’s going to be special.
“As far as safety, we’re four or five deep with guys who have played football for us. So we know what that group is all about, now they’ve got to go do it on game day.”
Notably on special teams, Rashid Shaheed is now the primary returner for both punts and kickoffs, while Hoskins appears set to join Shaheed as a kickoff returner.
Weber State begins its season Thursday, Aug. 30, when visiting the University of Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium.