Minnesota Gopher Football: Is QB Moses Alipate going to switch positions?

Some excellent Nugz from GN this morning. If you haven't read them, well then you're just behind on everything that happened at practice yesterday. And you don't want to be behind already (Coach Kill wouldn't like it) so read that first if you haven't already. Among his many links, I was most intrigued by Phil Miller's blog post in the Strib about the quarterback situation on day 1 of practice:

The most commented-on revelation was that quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski was working with a trio of quarterbacks, which seemed to signal which ones are in the running for playing time: MarQueis Gray, who will start. Tom Parish, who impressed coaches during spring practices. And Max Shortell, the true freshman from Kansas.
Too early to draw any conclusions, of course, but that delineation consigned freshman Dexter Foreman, junior Adam Lueck and sophomore Moses Alipate to a separate huddle.


I italicized the "too early to draw any conclusions" part because I fully realize it IS just the first day of fall practice, and there's a bunch of these to go before USC Sept 3. A lot can change. Having said that it IS interesting that after a full month of spring practices and all summer to learn the offense, redshirt sophomore Moses Alipate is in the second grouping of quarterbacks, perhaps as far down the depth chart as fourth or fifth. Yes it's only day 1, but clearly the coaches have seen something they haven't liked in Alipate, or haven't seen enough of what they want.

Motivation? Could be, but then how do you explain this?

And after practice ended, Alipate, the strong-armed QB from Bloomington Jefferson, worked on catching passes from Parish, lining up wide and running 10-yard outs.
Alipate's 275-yard frame always made him an odd size for a quarterback, but there's no telling what his future is with all these other passers around.

Alipate was a highly regarded high school player at Bloomington Jefferson, and when he committed to Minnesota they were running a pro-style offense (or whatever it was they were trying to do but failed). Alipate has always been a big guy, as he came into school as a freshman at over 235 pounds, and this offseason was said to be up to as much as 280. He's a drop-back, pro style quarterback with a big arm who is now being asked to run a much different system. Talent with Alipate has never been a question, but whether he can run the offense the way the coaches will demand remains to be seen...

That's he running pass routes after practices shows he perhaps sees the writing on the wall. At 275 pounds he'd be a monster of a man at tight end, and after Eric Lair the depth chart there is pretty wide open. I went on record in the spring saying that if Alipate wanted to play quarterback in college, it would have to be at another school, and this report only further confirms that. It looks like Parish has clearly beaten him for the backup job and now Shortell, who wasn't here in the spring and hadn't had a chance to prove ANYTHING before yesterday, is starting his first camp with the top 3. Coach Kill couldn't stop talking about how much he loves Shortell, and throwing him with the top 3 QB's shows he wasn't kidding. Shortell could fall flat on his face and be overwhelmed, but I highly doubt it. If Jerry Kill is so prepared and meticulous that he's already scripted the first 26 practices, you think he's going to give Shortell that kind of responsibility if he's not sure the kid can handle it? No way. Kill loves him some Max for a reason, and he's ready to let him prove it.

That should make, then, for a pretty clear pecking order at QB. Gray is the starter for the next two seasons, while Parish is the #2 for this season at least. I would be shocked if Kill burned Shortell's redshirt season to let him be the 3rd string QB, especially when Gray potentially has two more years to be a starter. But that leaves Shortell and Parish to compete for the backup job again in 2012 and the open starter spot in 2013, which is going to make it difficult for Alipate or any other QB on the roster right now to leapfrog those two.

So what it comes down for Aliapte is how much he loves being at the U versus how much he wants to play his natural position. If he transferred, he's already used his redshirt season, so if he went to another D1 school he'd lose his sophomore season but have two years of eligibility remaining to start somewhere else. However, it's hard to gauge where Alipate is in his development. Matt Limegrover is his third OC in as many seasons, and he'd be picking up a fourth wherever he went to, which can't be great for his development as a QB. Sure he could start for just about any 1-AA or D2 school he chose, but does he really want to go that route? If he transfers to play QB, he's starting all over again, with his 4th new offense in as many years. If he stays at the U, he's with his teammates, a new coaching staff the players (at least thus far) seem to love, and he'd have a much better chance for playing time at tight end.

You also have to wonder what the timetable is on this decision? The end of camp perhaps? If it were me, if it were clear to me that I wasn't going to play at QB, I'd want to switch positions as soon as possible to get a jump on things. Everybody's different, and I can't imagine someone as prepared as Kill and Limegrover (and QB coach Jim Zebrowski too) haven't at least broached this topic with Alipate already. Maybe Alipate slings it the next couple of weeks and moves back into the top three and goes on to start his senior season in 2013, or maybe despite a great arm he's just not a good fit for this offense. Whatever decision Moses makes, he needs to do what's best for him, but as a selfish Gopher fan, I hope it involves staying here and doing what it takes to get on the field, whatever that position may be.

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