WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University football team opened preseason camp on Monday morning with the first of 28 practices leading up to GU’s season opener at Campbell University on September 9. Throughout the month of August, we will take an in-depth look at each of the team’s position groups, starting at quarterback.
The Hoyas feature five quarterbacks on their 2017 roster. While junior Jowan Watson (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) will miss the 2017 campaign due to an injury suffered in the spring, there is a healthy competition between the remaining four quarterbacks for the starting job.
“It’s been a really good competition so far,” said quarterbacks coach Adam Neugebauer, who is in his first season on the Hilltop. “That’s how you become a better player, through competition. Right now, we have a fifth-year senior coming back, another returner who got valuable experience last season, a transfer from the University of Arizona and a freshman from Florida. We’ve got a really good group of guys right now who treat each other with respect but all want to compete and get as many reps as possible.”
The Hoyas will be boosted by the return of fifth-year senior Tim Barnes (Oradell, N.J./River Dell Regional), who received a fifth year of eligibility following a season-ending injury in 2016. In a little more than three games prior to his injury, Barnes had completed 71-of-126 pass attempts for 650 yards, averaging 162.5 yards per game, and seven touchdowns. He also rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
“Tim just has natural leadership abilities and people just link on to him,” Neugebauer said. “He has a really good personality and is always smiling and getting after it. He’s the first one in the meeting room and the last one to leave. A lot of the players like him and I’m looking forward to how he competes in camp.”
Junior Clay Norris (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) is the other quarterback on the roster with experience in Georgetown’s offense. Norris took the majority of snaps in 2016 after Barnes went down with injury, completing 110-of-199 passes for 822 yards and two touchdowns.
“Clay has been awesome,” remarked Neugebauer. “He stayed on campus all summer and has been putting in a lot of work. He was the guy out there in the summer getting everyone on the field and making sure people are doing one-on-one or seven-on-seven drills. He was the most improved offensive player in the spring for a reason. He looks a lot bigger and stronger, his arm has gotten better and his footwork has been getting a lot crisper.”
The Hoyas have welcomed sophomore Gunther Johnson (Anthem, Ariz./Boulder Creek/Arizona) to the Hilltop after he spent his freshman year as a member of the football program at the University of Arizona. Johnson holds the Boulder Creek High School single-season record for passing touchdowns (28) and career records for passing yards (6,245), passing touchdowns (56), completions (534), QB rushing yards (1,454) and total offensive yards (7,693).
“We were very fortunate to get a transfer quarterback in here,” said Neugebauer. “We are very lucky to have a guy with his caliber come in and compete for the starting job. We’ll see how fast he picks up the offense and how fast his mind works. So far, he’s shown a strong arm and a quick release. We’re excited to have him.”
Freshman Joseph Brunell (Jacksonville, Fla./Episcopal School of Jacksonville), the son of 19-year NFL quarterback Mark Brunell, will also be competing for the starting job in preseason camp. He was a three-year starter for the Episcopal School of Jacksonville. A dual threat quarterback, Brunell passed for 1,907 yards and 22 touchdowns while also running for 10 touchdowns as a senior.
“What impresses me with Joe is he absorbs knowledge,” Neugebauer said of the freshman. “He understands defenses really fast. He understands the offense already, which is really fast. So far, we’ve had a couple of meetings and he is already trying to check protections and check plays. That just shows where his mental game is. As far as his footwork and his arm strength, it’s ridiculous. He’s a very talented quarterback with a lot of tools to use and it is our job to make sure he uses them properly.”