University of Kansas

Who is KU’s starting QB? Les Miles only adds to speculation with most recent comments

The college football program that has been unsettled at quarterback for the last decade appears to be heading down a similar path to start 2019.

New Kansas coach Les Miles, when talking to reporters on Saturday after his team’s scrimmage during a closed practice, said the QB position was “exactly where it’s kind of been all of camp” while indicating that juco transfer Thomas MacVittie and senior Carter Stanley were still competing for the job.

“We’re not making a decision early,” Miles said, “and we won’t.”

Miles commented that both MacVittie and Stanley “threw the ball well” during the scrimmage, with neither throwing an interception in the roughly 110-play run-through.

After that, though, Miles’ words could be interpreted different ways.

Twice — unprompted — Miles brought up the play of Torry Locklin, a 6-foot-2 true freshman from Rockdale, Texas. Miles also spoke about KU’s staff trying to give reps to multiple QBs “just to see if, down the road with the new offense at some point in time, one of these new guys picks it up and suddenly gets on fire.”

Later, after asked when he’d like to decide on a starting quarterback — “When it happens naturally,” Miles said — KU’s coach spoke about the challenge of the current situation.

“The one thing too that kinds of mucks up the water is you come in with a new offense,” Miles said. “That guy’s going to get it, but he’s not going to get it right now. The guy who gets it right now is maybe not as good as the guy, with time, (who) gets it well. We’re going to take the time that we need to look at these guys.”

MacVittie, who started his career at Pitt before transferring to Mesa (Arizona) Community College, had been considered by many as the favorite after ranking last year as Rivals’ second-best pro-style juco quarterback. Stanley, meanwhile, has been KU’s on-again-off-again QB the last three seasons, playing in 25 games with nine starts.

Locklin, a left-hander, was rated a 247Sports three-star recruit and is known as a dual-threat QB; he led Rockdale High School to a Texas 3A state championship in 2017, and his father, Kerry, was an NFL tight end for two seasons in the 1980s.

Manny Miles, Les’ son and a senior graduate transfer from North Carolina, also has been running third string during KU’s practices.

Poor quarterback play has been one of the biggest reasons for KU football’s recent struggles. According to ESPN’s QBR measure, KU has had eight of the worst 12 quarterback seasons among Big 12 teams since 2004.

Miles has three weeks before he has to make a final decision; KU opens with an 11 a.m. Aug. 31 home game against FCS opponent Indiana State.

The coach did confirm one point during an otherwise cryptic media session.

“I’d love to have one quarterback,” he said. “I’d like to have one quarterback like Mahomes.”

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.