There’s little doubt who will be under center to take the first snap of the season for Southern University when it takes on Houston in the opener Aug. 30.
That honor will go to senior quarterback Dray Joseph.
However, with just 14 days until kickoff the right to be Joseph’s backup is still open for competition.
Junior Wynton Perro and freshman Deonte Shorts are in the midst of a spirited competition to see who’ll become Joseph’s backup.
“I think that it is pretty close right now,” coach Dawson Odums said. “We hope to keep Dray healthy all year long, but we know we’ve got to get a No. 2 guy ready.”
Perro and Shorts have gotten plenty of repetitions with the first-team offense this week to see if either can separates themselves from the other.
“If you’ve seen all our practices then you know it’s close,” Odums said. “Wynton Perro has done some good things and Deonte Shorts has done some good things. We’re just giving them a chance to go with the ones to see their true talent.”
Perro, a 6-foot-2 200-pounder from Houston, holds an advantage over Shorts having been in the Jaguars’ program for two years and gaining familiarity with the offensive system.
“(Perro’s) comfortable with the playbook,” Odums said. “Knowledge-wise he should know more at this time (than Shorts).”
Perro has put in the necessary time off the field, Joseph said.
“Perro is a great guy on and off the field; he’s a hard worker,” Joseph said. “He stays up late nights, watching film. He’s on ‘Hudl’ (an online video analysis system developed for sports teams), he’s in his playbook until 2 in the morning. He’s a book guy.
“You can see from last spring to now the progression he has made.”
Joseph has also taken notice of Shorts’ progression in practice this summer, noting he’s come along faster than expected.
“He came along the curve faster than we thought he would,” Joseph said. “That’s why he’s in competition with Perro.”
Shorts, a former Southern Lab standout, led the Kittens to the Class 1A quarterfinals last season.
“Shorts is a talented individual,” Odums said. “He’s been throwing the ball well in practice.”
Joseph encourages both quarterbacks to seize the opportunity before them.
“I told Wynton, let’s try and not make it close (for the backup quarterback position), but I told Shorts let’s make it close,” Joseph said. “I’m just trying to bring out the best in everybody.”
Yet it’s not just simply a matter of throwing the ball well in practice, as Joseph noted, but also making the right decisions at the right time.
“(Co-offensive coordinator Chadwick Germany) talks about rhythm reads, check-down and release,” Joseph said. “Release comes when you run the ball or throw the ball away. Many people fail to realize that smart throw-aways are always good. You live to play another down rather than throwing an interception.”
Germany said he likes the direction the quarterbacks are moving in, yet there is still work to be done.
“I think the quarterbacks are getting better with their reads,” Germany said. “They’re reads are getting quicker. We still need to continue to work in the film room.”
With Southern’s final scrimmage set for Saturday, it will the last chance for the quarterbacks to leave an impression on the coaching staff.
“We’ll know Sunday who the backup quarterback is going to be,” Odums said.