DETROIT - How quickly can 6-foot-6 red-shirt freshman quarterback Tyree Jackson be ready to start?
University at Buffalo football coach Lance Leipold acknowledged that will be the question to answer when his team opens training camp on Aug. 7.
Jackson, a prized recruit from Michigan, will compete with senior Grant Rohach, a transfer from Iowa State, for the starting QB job.
"I think we’re going to be pleased, whichever way it turns out," Leipold said Thursday at the Mid-American Conference Media Day. "What I mean by that is Tyree Jackson has grown an inch since he’s been here. He’s 6-6. He’s almost 240 pounds. Our strength coach says he’s had an outstanding summer. Tyree is going to be an outstanding quarterback."
"It’s a matter of when," Leipold said. "If it’s by Sept. 2 that he’s ready to take it and go, that’ll be outstanding."
Leipold said Jackson and Roach will split snaps relatively evenly to open camp.
"Grant Rohach knows that," Leipold said. "Grant has been everything we thought he would be. His maturity, his leadership, his willingness to compete. If he’s the starter, I know his intangibles will help not only our offense but our whole football team. Grant wants to be a coach. He approaches it that way. He wants to play, no doubt. And that was what we got from the Iowa State coaches, what a great leader and teammate he is."
Rohach spent last season as the third-stringer at Iowa State. A 6-2 and 217-pounder, he was a three-star recruit out of high school. He played in seven games and started four in the 2013 season for the Cyclones. He had back-to-back 300-yard games in wins over West Virginia and Kansas and passed for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns. But Robach lost the competition for the starting job entering the next season, and he did not attempt a pass in 2015.
Leipold said the state of UB's offensive line, which essentially is replacing three starters, will be a factor in the quarterback decision.
"The bigger question is we have to get some offensive line answers," Leipold said. "Do we need to put a red-shirt freshman out there, depending on the situation? I think we have more depth on the offensive line. I think they’ll be working with the same type of guys through camp. We'll see."
Leipold said he expects to name a starter before UB opens against Albany.
"Somewhere along the week of the first game I’m sure we will," he said. "I’m not going to be one to say we’ll see who runs out for the first snap."
Could UB rotate two QBs through the first part of the season. Leipold says anything is possible.
"I could see it in the first game and then we’ve got an open week the next week," Leipold said. "But you know the old saying: If you have two that means you don’t have one."