By BRIAN LESTER
There are a lot of great quarterbacks in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, including two of the best in NCAA Division II in Grand Valley State's Brad Iciek and Ashland's Billy Cundiff.
Iciek is a two-time Harlon Hill Trophy finalist and Cundiff is the reigning player of the year in the conference. The two signal callers combined for more than 5,000 yards and 68 touchdown passes.
Hillsdale's Troy Weatherhead, Saginaw Valley's Dan Steifel and Michigan Tech's Steve Short all threw for more than 2,000 yards last season and combined for 50 TD passes.
All five teams mentioned above had winning records last season and all five teams are expected to be among the elite in the league again this year.
The University of Findlay is still searching for its answer at signal caller, and the Oilers recently added a new player to the mix in Bowling Green transfer Andrew Beam.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback played in six games for the Falcons last season, completing his only pass for a 22-yard TD. He also rushed for 108 yards on 22 carries and scored 3 TDs.
Beam will be vying for the starting job, along with sophomore Billy Noonan and junior Jonathan Mora.
Because of what Noonan did last season in the season finale against Ashland, torching the Eagles for a school-record 364 yards and throwing for 3 TDs in a 45-38 loss, many fans believe he should be the starter this season.
But I can't see Beam coming here to ride the bench. He is a senior and spent his first two seasons at San Joaquin Junior College in California where he was a first-team all conference selection as a sophomore.
Perhaps he is the answer for this season and Noonan will spend the year learning from a veteran like Beam before taking control of the offense next year.
Only time will tell. Regardless of who starts, the quarterback at UF will have to make plays and put up solid numbers if the Oilers are going to be one of the better teams in the league this season.