Terrel Hunt keeps starting Cuse QB job

Though Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt ended last season on a roll, coach Scott Shafer was reluctant to tab him the starter headed into spring.

He wanted Hunt to earn the job again.

Mission accomplished.

Offensive coordinator George McDonald said in a phone interview that Hunt is the team's starter, not a huge shock considering the momentum gained toward the end of last season. Still, Shafer did open up the competition this spring to see what all his quarterbacks could do.

Hunt just happened to be ahead of everybody else, and he continued to distance himself as the spring wore on. Syracuse plays its spring game this Saturday in a much different spot than a year ago -- with no real questions at the position.

"He’s had a really good spring," McDonald said of Hunt. "He’s doing a lot of things he wasn’t able to do last spring. For him, the game that made him a lot more comfortable was the Minnesota game. He’s really built off that game. He’s playing at a different level this spring."

Hunt turned in an MVP performance against the Gophers in the Texas Bowl, throwing for 188 yards and running for 74 more and two touchdowns in the comeback victory. But he started turning a corner before that, with solid performances against Pitt and Boston College -- a victory that sealed bowl eligibility.

The confidence Hunt gained at the end of last year has been evident this spring.

"He’s a totally different player," McDonald said. "He started the season as the second-string quarterback and then he got better and better. He went through his ups and downs, and really the Pittsburgh game he played well, Boston College, he really played well and the Minnesota bowl game he stepped up his game in terms of his leadership and what he was doing on the field. [Quarterbacks] coach [Tim] Lester really challenged him to keep building off that game and that’s what he’s done all spring."

Now, the battle for the backup job will head into the fall. Mitch Kimble, A.J. Long and Austin Wilson are all in the competition. Highly touted Alin Edouard arrives in the summer, too.

"The future is bright at the quarterback spot," McDonald said. "They’re all able to do what we want them to do, it’s just a matter of feeling comfortable with what we’re trying to do, just being able to play up to their abilities without playing with fear.

"The competition will be really heavy. Terrel has done such a great job this spring, he’s really distanced himself so now the competition is who’s going to get that No. 2 spot."