When Logan Bonner decided to follow Blake Anderson to Utah State, Colton Clack was re-positioned and Brett Nezat transferred to…somewhere, it left the Red Wolves quarterback room with incoming freshman Wyatt Begeal and junior Layne Hatcher. Because Hatcher put up good-to-great stats for two consecutive seasons, and because Keith Heckendorf was invited to resume his post at OC, I rather expected Butch Jones to bring in a solid 5th-year senior backup looking to spend some time polishing up a degree and hanging out another year with some fun-loving jocks.
Color me surprised when we got red-shirt junior James Blackman instead.
Blackman is a three-star recruit , pro-style QB who played for three different head coaches at FSU, where he proved himself more Jimbo Fisher’s guy than Willie Taggart or Mike Norvell’s. But is his Butch Jones’ guy? I have questions:
- Is Blackman here to push Layne Hatcher for the starting job? At 6’5″ Blackman looks more the prototype quarterback over Hatcher, whose driver’s license says 6’0″. But Blackman has issues. After winning the job as a Freshman in 2017, he never really matured. Three games into the 2020 season, Blackman had 2 TDs, 3 picks and a 13.7 QB rating. His season was done. His Power Five pedigree isn’t enough to unseat Hatcher, who tossed 19 TDs and 2,050 yards on half-a-season’s worth of snaps.
- Does Layne need a push? I’m no Red Wolves insider, but my sources insist that Hatcher’s leadership is valued by his teammates. So if he has respect in the locker room and the stats of a lessor greek god, why push him with a big name from the Power Five?
- Okay, but does Layne need a push? Shit, we all need a push. And let’s be real: Hatcher didn’t separate himself from Bonner. That’s not very fair, I know. Bonner played as evenly has Hatcher. But if Butch Davis is looking to re-affirm his once golden reputation, then he doesn’t have time to allow Hatcher to coast.
- What are Blackman’s goals? Blackman isn’t in Jonesboro for the fine dining and ballroom dancing. He wants to start. Butch Jones must have told him that the spot behind center is open. If Blackman the Potential Superstar plays like an actual Superstar, there shall be a controversy.
- So this is a “Chad Voytik nudging Justice Hansen” thing? Uh, yeah, you know. Maybe.
Probably the best thing to do is not question the Grand Design, only marvel at its implementation. Jones isn’t dicking around. He doesn’t care about Hatcher’s feelings or spiritual growth. He wants a VIP booth at Club Dub. And he’s willing to poach FSU to get it.
The Red Wolves beat UTA in overtime tonight, and did so in entertaining fashion, complete with Norchad Omeir slams and Malcolm Farrington threes. Maybe Balado has something here with these guys. Put on a sweater, coach, and stay chill.
PHOTO CREDIT: A-State University