LAWRENCE — Quinn Mecham thought he was going to redshirt. Christian Matthews thought he had become a wide receiver for good. The Kansas Jayhawks thought they had found their quarterback in Jordan Webb, but at this point, who really knows?
Webb is doubtful for Saturday's game at Iowa State with a shoulder injury. There is no doubt he would be starting against the Cyclones if he were healthy, but since he is not, the quarterback position suddenly feels open again. With backup Kale Pick also out with a concussion, Mecham, a junior transfer from Snow (Utah) Junior College, will get the first shot to take advantage of an unforeseen situation.
"Like any quarterback that steps in, he wants to get the job," KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. "As I said from the very beginning, this is maybe something that is still being worked out. Obviously, with injuries, it comes that way. He has a great opportunity in front of him."
Webb, a redshirt freshman, has had some positive moments during his six starts. But his strong debut against Georgia Tech has now been overshadowed by three rough outings in a row. Webb may still be the guy, but it is not like he has a stranglehold on the job.
Pick has not played well in his limited action, but here comes Mecham, the ultimate unknown, a guy who sounds great to Kansas fans mainly because he is somebody new. Mecham (pronounced Meek-em) threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season at Snow, so at least he has some college experience under his belt.
Mecham's teammates and coaches haven't known him for long, but they seem convinced that his smarts are one of his greatest assets. Long says Mecham's a straight-A student and that he's equally studious about football.
"His mind is very sharp," Long said. "I always tell guys, 'You gotta get to know Quinn. He's gonna be a millionaire someday.' "
This week, the Jayhawks are getting to know Mecham in a totally different way. He took the reins at Sunday's practice and hasn't looked back. He's not redshirting anymore, so he might as well get the most of this moment.
"It's an opportunity to go out and help the team and try and get us a win," Mecham said.
Mecham is not alone in hoping to make a statement on Saturday. Matthews, a redshirt freshman wide receiver recruited as a quarterback out of Arlington, Texas, has been taking more snaps at quarterback this week. He would be more of a dual-threat option than Mecham.
Matthews couldn't hold back his excitement at the idea of getting a shot to play his natural position.
"I've still got that passion at quarterback," Matthews said. "If I get the chance, I am not gonna hold back. My dad always tells me that you'll never forget how to play quarterback."