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Furman Preseason Preview: Quarterbacks

P.J. Blazejowski
P.J. Blazejowski

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The 2017 football season marks the beginning of the Clay Hendrix era and a new chapter for Furman's quarterbacks following the graduation of Reese Hannon, the program's all-time passing and total offense leader.

While Hannon's departure, along with his 37 starts, 7,740 passing yards, and 41 touchdowns, left a big void, his signal calling heir, senior P.J. Blazejowski, gives the Paladins quality experience and proven ability to step into the starting role.

"P.J. has a nice skill set — just what we're looking for in a quarterback," said Hendrix following Thursday morning's practice.  He's an athletic guy who throws the ball well and has really grasped our offense, which has certainly helped speed up the   installation.  He's also a good leader on our team that doesn't have a lot of seniors, has played in some big games, and has played pretty well at times in those games."

Over his first three years Blazejowski has appeared in 19 contests, made 13 starts, and passed for 2,841 yards and 14 touchdowns.  He's also demonstrated ability as a runner, totaling 541 yards and five scores with the ball in his hands.

As a freshman in 2014 the St. Augustine, Fla., product threw for a career high 307 yards and three touchdowns against The Citadel, and backed it up the next week by completing all 15 pass attempts (a new school completion percentage standard) for 305 yards and two scores in a 31-14 win over Wofford.  As a sophomore he engineered a second half comeback from a 17-0 deficit in a 20-17 road win over Samford, and a year ago he emerged from preseason camp to start in the Paladins' first three games before an early second half injury against Chattanooga forced him from the lineup.  

The competition for Blazejowski's backup duty is between redshirt junior Harris Roberts and true freshman JeMar Lincoln.

"That's been a good little battle (for the second spot), and it may continue for awhile," said Hendrix.

"Harris has been in the program for three years, is a smart player, and throws the ball well.  I thought last Saturday he maybe played better than any of our guys, responding very well after being put into that (full contact) situation, which he needed because he hasn't played much football."

The Cumming, Ga., product completed 7-of-9 passes for 93 yards in the scrimmage and spread his connections among six different receivers.

Lincoln, meanwhile, has gained attention with solid work in the preseason.

"JeMar enrolled this summer and is a really good athlete who didn't play a lot of quarterback in high school, so there was a lot we didn't know about him coming into the preseason.  That said, we've been very pleased with his progress up to this point.  He still has a way to go in learning the offense, but he's another smart kid who is athletic and throws the ball well. He's also very poised as a freshman."

Lincoln, who checked in a 6-1, 192 pounds at the start of the preseason, was a true dual threat performer in 2016 at Ware County (5A) High School, rushing for 1,086 yards and 16 touchdowns while also passing for 886 yards (no interceptions) and 10 scores en route to earning Georgia Sportswriters Association All-State honors as an athlete.  He was also a two-time all-region basketball player who threw down a career high 45 points against Appling County as a senior.

"We're pretty happy where our quarterbacks are at this point, but we've got to continue to work hard and develop," added Hendrix.  "Right now PJ is clearly No. 1.  We're trying to split the other reps between Harris and JeMar to get three guys ready to play."

Four other quarterbacks dot Furman's preseason roster, including redshirt sophomore Reese Vita and three true freshmen: Jackson Dozier, Jack Hardin, and Louis Colosimo.

Furman Preseason Preview: Defensive Line
Furman Preseason Preview: Tight Ends
Furman Preseason Preview: Secondary
Furman Preseason Preview: Offensive Line

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information