During spring football, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions had two quarterbacks splitting reps as first-year Head Coach Cedric Thomas began his campaign. Junior College transfer Shannon Patrick and senior Roger Totten were the two who participated in the spring, and now two freshmen have been added to the quarterback room.
Freshman quarterback Skyler Perry (6’3, 200 lbs) comes from Edna Carr, a nationally known high school powerhouse in New Orleans, Louisiana. His classmate, David Chapel (5’11, 175), is a former North Little Rock Charging Wildcat. Both Perry and Chapel won state championships as high school starting quarterbacks, and Thomas is happy that they’re apart of the family.
Although Patrick has been the first quarterback to take snaps, Thomas made it clear that the starting job is still up for grabs.
“It’s really a blessing,” Thomas said. “In the spring we had our fingers crossed, toes crossed and everything else. To see four in the picture is huge. The two freshmen, both of them won state championships. Skylar Perry won a big-time state championship at Edna Carr in Louisiana, and David Chapel won a 7A state title at North Little Rock. We’re excited about the two pups, and the job is open. The only people who have jobs on the team now is the coaching staff.
According to Thomas, he’s sure that Patrick can sense the competition among the quarterbacks. Patrick had a minor injury to his groin on Monday, but he didn’t let that stop him from practicing on Tuesday.
“Shannon had a little tweak in his groin yesterday, but showed toughness by coming out and getting his reps in today,” Thomas said. “I think that’s a testament to the other guys chomping at the bit and on his heels. That’s him knowing that he can’t take a practice off. We always tell them if you miss one practice you know, if you miss two they know, and if you miss three everybody knows. Totten is doing a good job of being consistent. It could go down to game week before we decide who’s going to lead us.”
Three out of the four quarterbacks who are competing for the starting job weren’t members of the team last year. However, Patrick did play in the spring, so Thomas isn’t looking at him as a new guy. With Totten being around the program for a while now and having two freshmen in the fold who have a lot of upsides, Thomas fully believes his Offensive Coordinator Jermaine Gales has a lot to work with.
“One thing about it, Shannon is technically not new because he participated in the spring,” Thomas said. “When it’s only two quarterbacks in camp you get the number of reps as if you’re the starter or as if you’ve been here a whole year. To me, he has starter numbers as far as the reps and we expect great things out of him and Totten. I’m excited about the two pups, they come from good pedigrees, great programs, and they fit what we do. They’re athletic, they throw the football around, and I think Coach Gales has some toys and we’re excited from an offensive standpoint.”
Thomas spoke on the maturation in the offense and how Patrick has settled in since his first day arriving on campus. Patrick isn’t the traditional African American dual-threat quarterback that is seen around Historically Black College and Universities, but he’s made himself at home with the Golden Lions family, according to the coach.
“It’s something special being apart of this HBCU sector,” Thomas said. “You get a kid that hadn’t seen the place, he shows up, and although his background may not be what people perceive as being apart of the HBCU sector, Coach Lonnie Teasily did a great job of recruiting him. Once we got a chance to fellowship with his mom and dad it was a no-brainer. He’s at home, he hung around here this summer, and we’re seeing his improvement go through the roof as it comes to retention.”