By BRIAN LESTER
Optimism is hard to miss when camp begins for college football teams. Everyone is 0-0 and everyone believes a winning season and trip to the playoffs is possible.
For the University of Findlay, there is no shortage of optimism. The Oilers return a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball and it appears they have what it takes to build on the success of last season's 7-4 campaign.
But in order to win games in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, you need to have a quarterback that can make big plays.
Grand Valley State, Saginaw Valley State and Hillsdale all had very good quarterbacks a year ago and all three teams made it to the postseason.
The Oilers nearly made the playoffs because they had a good quarterback in Andrew Beam. He at least gave UF a chance to contend for a postseason berth.
With Beam gone, the Oilers are in search of a new signal caller. They have three guys in camp, John Soli, Kevan Westenbarger and Zach Tate, competing for the job.
Tate is a true freshman out of Columbia Central (Tenn.) and if his highlight reel on YouTube is any indication of how good he can be, it might make the most sense to start Tate this year and have faith that the offensive talent around him will ease his transition to the college game.
After all, the Oilers not only have a dynamic duo in the backfield in Monterae Williams and Demetrius Trapps, but they have veteran receivers in Dustin Zielaskiewicz, Jon Mora and DeJerrian Smith. The experience on the offensive line will also help with the transition.
I think Tate has the ability to be successful at the NCAA Division II level. Developing a freshman quarterback makes sense for a program that wants to become a regular contender in the GLIAC.
Sure, he'll have his share of challenges to deal with. Every new college football player has growing pains.
But in the long run, the move should pay off, this season and in the future as well.