Quarterback battle remains competitive as spring camp nears an end


Megan Ewing

Gunner Cruz trains with his teammates on Tuesday, April 13.

Ryan Wohl

From the start of the 2021 spring football camp, there have been two quarterbacks switching back and forth and taking first-team reps for the Arizona Wildcats: Gunner Cruz and Will Plummer.

Cruz transferred from Washington State where he played one season but only played in one game during the 2020-21 season. Cruz is also from Gilbert, Arizona but wasn’t offered a scholarship from former head coach Kevin Sumlin in the 2019 recruiting class as a three-star prospect.

Plummer was a three-star prospect coming into Tucson a season ago and made just two starts under center. He also appeared in another game after former Arizona quarterback Grant Gunnell suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter against UCLA last season.

Entering the 2021 season, both quarterbacks are learning head coach Jedd Fisch’s new system and have had some highs and lows to start camp, but their staff still has high hopes for the two’s future.

“I think we were going in not thinking that was probably going to happen in the spring because neither one had a foundation in our system,” Fisch said. “For them, this has been like a massive immersion of football going into their heads.”

During practice, neither guy has been able to jump ahead and stand out so far as the competition will heat up again in the fall before the season starts. Neither guy has shown the ability to throw the deep ball, consistency and at a high level to this point.

“There’s been a lot of good and bad, but we are still in the process now and is still under construction,” quarterbacks coach Jimmie Dougherty said. “We have seen a ton of improvements out of these guys. There have been leaps and bounds, and they are starting to grasp the offense.”

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Cruz seems like the faster guy as he finds the holes on the defensive line, establishing a dynamic offense. Plummer has stood out as the precision passer and the more accurate of the two quarterbacks so far.

“They are both unique in their skill sets in what they can do,” Dougherty said. “We put a lot on their plate in a short amount of time, and both of them are extremely coachable.”

Time will tell with which quarterback will ascend to the top of the Wildcats depth chart come September, but it will surely be a fun time to watch this battle play out throughout the next five months.

“I feel like I’m getting the offense under my belt, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Plummer said. “We all know one day out here won’t get you the starting job.”

“I think I’ve definitely made some progress,” Cruz said. “I’m excited to see where it’s going to go with more time.”

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