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Harsin names starting QB, releases depth-chart

Published: Monday, August 26, 2013

Updated: Monday, August 26, 2013 18:08

Bryan Harsin

Staci Vandagriff, Photo Editor

Head Coach Bryan Harsin looks onto his players during the spring game this past April. The Red Wolves will play their first home game Aug. 31 against the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Six a.m. Time to wake up. Go to breakfast. Go to a meeting. Go to another meeting. Go to practice. Go to lunch. Go to a meeting. Go to another meeting. Go to practice. Go to dinner. Go to a meeting. Go home. 11 p.m.

Six a.m. Repeat.

For the final two weeks of summer, Arkansas State football players ate, slept and breathed football during fall camp.

As the start of regular play drew near, the competition for a starting position grew more intense. Aug. 20 was more than the second day of school, it was the day Head Coach Bryan Harsin released a depth-chart and announced who would be taking Ryan Aplin’s former starting quarterback spot.

Newcomer Adam Kennedy was named the starting quarterback over ASU veteran Philip Butterfield following Kennedy’s performance in the Red Wolves scrimmage on Aug. 17.

Kennedy, a 6-5 senior, transferred from Utah State to ASU after a shoulder injury left him sidelined for the remainder of his junior season.

“We had a few bumps and bruises but everybody is going to be out there and ready to go for this first game, which is good for us. We feel like we had a solid camp,” Harsin said.

“We feel like our strength staff did a great job this summer with how they trained and prepared our guys coming out there. I feel like our guys are stronger and in better shape because we had a physical camp early on and we started to pull back to get our guys prepped and ready to go,” Harsin said.

Harsin, who’s in his first year as head coach of the Red Wolves, came to ASU from the University of Texas. He was the co-offensive coordinator for the Longhorns, and received national attention for leading Boise State into the national spotlight while serving as offensive coordinator there.

“At the same token, we had to make a decision on a quarterback. Ryan Aplin was a very good player, we know what he’s done and those guys that played here the previous year, all good players. We’ve heard a lot about those guys and they’ve laid a tremendous foundation, but at the same time we have a lot of players here who are new names, new faces that we hope have the same type of impact that those players did when they leave this program, as well. One of those we feel very good about is Adam Kennedy.”

During his sophomore year, Kennedy threw for 972 yards with 11 touchdowns, plus 239 rushing yards to finish third on the team in total offense with 1,211 yards.

“He got here as soon as he could, early in the summer. He got into classes, got into the playbook and prepared himself, got into the weight room, and did all the work in the player-run practices. He came into fall camp still not with every detail and knowledge that you would have with a veteran guy returning but with a really good understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Harsin said.

“As camp went on, the better he got, the more consistent he got, the more he started to understand the expectations we have as a staff,” said Harsin, the 29th head coach of the Red Wolves.

“We felt physically Kennedy had the tools. It’s just a matter of getting him comfortable with what we’re doing, letting him make those decisions and we fully intend on letting him continue that. The one thing about our system is, the quarterback evolves and so does our system. He’ll have his unique offense with our base philosophies,” Harsin said. “Butterfield’s fantastic. He’s a leader on our football team and that won’t change. He’s a guy that knows he has to prepare himself to play and do all the things we ask him to do and he’s a guy who we talk with as far as getting his opinion on things. That’s part of that competition that continues. This is not the end, this is the start; for every position.”

Although the Red Wolves have had plenty of practice the last three years when it comes to dealing with change, Kennedy was adjusting to being a new face.

“Arkansas State is a Division-1 program. They didn’t promise me anything and told me I would have to earn my spot week by week, season by season. Meeting the players was the selling point for me. I came early in the summer, made connections with players like Allen Muse and J.D. McKissic and knew we had a lot of studs,” he said. “They are great guys who came to work and opened their arms almost immediately. They made me feel like one of the guys and that shows how great of a team we have here, not just with the guys but with the coaches, too.”

Kennedy was also getting reacquainted with the game of football after not playing for almost a year.

“I was anxious to get back onto the field since it had been a while, but it felt the same as day one. It was like I hadn’t missed a beat,” he said. “The competition is always in the back of my mind and I’m going to ask myself how I did, but knowing I’ll be starting relieves a lot of stress. It gives me a chance to really focus on the opponent. My mindset going into this season is to be the same guy I was in camp. I think the team has great leaders and I don’t need to try to be anything special. It feels good, I’m excited and I’m ready to go.”    

The Red Wolves are set to kick off the season on Saturday at 6 p.m. against the University of Arkansas- Pine Bluff Golden Lions. The opener will be one of the six home games ASU has this season.

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