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Indiana Daily Student

2017 signee shows IU's quarterback job is up for grabs come fall

Junior quarterback Richard Lagow attempts a pass during IU’s game against Rutgers Saturday. Lagow threw for 394 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in IU’s 33-27 win.
Junior quarterback Richard Lagow attempts a pass during IU’s game against Rutgers Saturday. Lagow threw for 394 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in IU’s 33-27 win.

Nick Tronti won’t have the benefit of enrolling early and getting a head start on working with his future IU teammates, but when the newly signed Hoosier and Florida’s Mr. Football arrives in Bloomington he’ll have the opportunity to win the starting job.

The pledge for a competitive quarterback room came in early January. IU Coach Tom Allen’s former quarterback coach Shawn Watson, who left his job with the Hoosiers to join the Pittsburgh Panthers of the ACC, appeared confident that current freshmen Peyton Ramsey and Austin King could push returning starter and junior Richard Lagow.

Tronti, a 247Sports Composite three-star recruit, was brought in to do the same. When Allen introduced Tronti and the rest of IU’s 2017 recruiting class on National Signing Day on Feb. 1, IU’s head coach wanted to make that very clear.

“You come in here, and you have an opportunity to whatever time you’re given,” Allen said. “So, if you’re a freshman, you come in in June, and you’ve got June and July to make an impression and prepare yourself to compete at this highest level. The best players play.”

Tronti had previously been committed to North Carolina-Charlotte before he flipped to IU. Although he closed out his recruitment with 21 offers, only one other than IU’s came from a Power Five program. Allen indicated the hesitation from high-profile schools possibly arose from Tronti’s play in 7-on-7 activities. Also, this late in the recruiting cycle schools usually have their minds made up on who they want at quarterback.

The key factor on Allen’s mind was how Tronti looked on tape, in pads, with 11 guys on either side of the ball. When Allen saw that, he saw talent.

“He rises and he shines,” Allen said.

Tronti faces an uphill battle if he wants to see the field as a freshman, or even as a sophomore and upperclassman. Ramsey and King are two players who former IU Coach Kevin Wilson thought highly of. Ramsey in particular constantly earned praise for his work on the scout team offense.

Wide receiver Ricky Jones, who closed out his IU career with the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl, said in the lead up to the game that Ramsey already knew the whole offense. With new coaches the schemes and plays may change, but they change for everyone. Ramsey’s shown he can learn quickly.

Ramsey, King and Tronti have the ability to make defenses pay with their legs. Allen isn’t necessarily looking for a quarterback who is a clean-cut dual-threat guy, but he would like one who the defense at least has to account for.

“You think about the teams that we play. If you think about Penn State and their quarterback, they didn’t do a bunch of quarterback design runs, but he hurt you with his legs and he can extend the play and you’ve got to account for him,” Allen said. “When you do, where do you have to account for him with? In the secondary. That changes everything.”

Whether or not Ramsey and King truly have a shot at dethroning Lagow will likely be decided by the end of spring ball, and Tronti’s best bet at playing time will come if none of the trio can separate themselves from the pack.

When Allen became head coach he said Tronti was a guy he went after and thought finished off the 2017 class in a way that makes it “really, really special.” Allen’s connections in Florida kept telling him to consider Tronti, and Allen pulled the trigger.

Come fall 2017, Hoosier fans can see if that’ll pay dividends sooner rather than later.

“He’s at his best when it counts the most which is what you want,” Allen said. “He has that moxie about him, that savvy about him. He’s got that special something that’s to put the team on his back and go score and go win the game, and he’s got the ability to run and throw and he’s tough and competitive and I just love this kid.”

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