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Coach Graham announces Taylor Kelly as starting quarterback

August 20, 2012

Head coach Todd Graham announced sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly will start for the Sun Devils when they open their season against Northern Arizona University on Aug. 30. The decision came after what Graham referred to as an agonizing 24 hours of evaluating the three quarterbacks.

“I have never been in a situation like this,” stated Graham.  “I have never had three guys of that quality at that position so it has been a very hard decision to make.”

Redshirt freshman Michael Eubank will be the backup and should see time in specific packages. Sophomore Mike Bercovici is slotted in the third-string position, however Graham stressed Monday the competition is far from over.

“I will be honest with you, I have confidence in each of them but we have to move forward and going into week one we have to have somebody taking the one snaps,” said Graham. “We will use two quarterbacks. How much and all that, we will have to see.”

Following spring practice Kelly was positioned as the number three quarterback. He spent the offseason working in the weight room to improve his arm strength, lead extensive throwing sessions with his receivers and spent hours of watching film.

"My competitive edge came on. I just came out and had an edge on my shoulder and over the summer decided to work hard, that's the big thing that happened to me," Kelly said.

That work paid off for the Idaho native, as Graham admitted Monday he has been surprised by the progress Kelly has made in a short amount of time.

“He came in the first four days of camp and jumped out there,” recalled Graham. “He was playing at a different level and then moved up in a hurry. He has just stayed there. He never has moved backwards and the other players came charging forward towards the end.”

“I just had a chip on my shoulder,” Kelly said. “I come out here every day and compete with a great focus. I just come out here and have fun and do my thing.”

From day one, Graham has stressed the importance of having a leader at the quarterback position that can manage the game and not turn the ball over.

Kelly was notified of the decision in a meeting with Graham prior to the morning practice.

“He (Taylor) was very excited and honored to have that opportunity,” Graham said. “I told him he is only limited by one thing in this world and that is opportunity. He has the opportunity so now it is what he does with it. Again, we will know when we get into the heat of the battle how that is going to turn out.”