The Future of Eastern Michigan's QB Room After Jace Stuckey's Commitment
What might EMU's QB room look like in 2024?
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Two weeks ago, Eastern Michigan got some good news.
Jace Stuckey, a tall, big-armed quarterback from a 2A Indiana high school, phoned in his decision to commit to the program’s 2024 signing class.
EMU is just one of four MAC schools to have at least one player committed to its school for this 2024 recruiting cycle, according to 247sports.com’s team rankings. Miami has 14 commits, Toledo has 10 commits, and NIU has five.
“I want to be successful and positive every day,” Stuckey told me in a recent interview. “Whether that’s a redshirt-freshman year who’s putting on weight and understanding the offense or I’m starting Day 1 that’s trying to lead a team to the MAC Championship. I want to strive for what I can control and work to do that. Those goals may change day to day, but I’m going to work for what I want and try to have successful days.”
Now that there’s another body scheduled to be added into EMU’s QB room next year, let’s take a look at how this addition affects the rest of this position group.
This season, there are three scholarship quarterbacks and one as a preferred walk-on.
With three years of eligibility remaining, Austin Smith leads the room in team playing experience after seven games played last year (five starts). Smith, after his third spring with the team, is expected to be the team’s starting quarterback. Cam’Ron McCoy, a returning sophomore with four years of eligibility left, is back up to Smith along with another player. Ike Udengwu III, who signed with EMU in December out of Mt. San Antonio College in California, has two years to give. Jeremiah Salem, a walk-on from Tennessee, has four years of eligibility to open his second season in Ypsilanti.
As far as redshirt years go, Smith ‘wore’ one his first year on campus in 2021, and McCoy and Salem both had redshirt seasons last year.
Udengwu played just two seasons of junior college ball, but he’s a class of 2019 high school graduate that didn’t play college ball until 2021. The Workman HS (Paramount, Calif.) grad didn’t play anywhere his first two years out of high school — the local junior college did not have football in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s currently unclear if Udengwu will be able to extend his eligibility into a potential third year with the team. He’s currently listed on EMU’s roster with two years left to play, but we’ve seen transfers find ways to last longer than previously expected. Korey Hernandez and Joe Sparacio, for example, are two defenders who were listed as players with just one year remaining in 2022, but they’re both back on EMU’s roster this season.
By the time Stuckey joins the roster, all four aforementioned QBs are slated to be back on the roster. Udengwu will be a senior, Smith will still have two years of eligibility, and McCoy and Salem will each have three years left.
We haven’t even seen how this team will perform with Smith as the team’s QB1 entering the upcoming 2023 season, but Stuckey’s commitment to the team has me looking at what this position group could look like in 2024.
Assuming the best: Austin Smith starts the whole season for EMU, avoids major injury
This is the ideal situation for EMU. Smith was a state championship-winning QB in Georgia, and he’s coming off his third spring with the team after he was an early enrollee back in 2021. Smith finally saw some real playing time last year — nine games, five starts — but a late-season injury kept Smith from playing in the Potato Bowl vs. San Jose State.
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