Who’s next: Lehigh football looks for quarterback

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The Lehigh football team is on the hunt for a new starting quarterback in preparation for its fall 2019 season.

The team is currently considering junior Tyler Monaco, sophomore Addison Shoup and freshman Alec Beesmer. All three players have been acquiring experience in the first-string position during team practices this spring.

Both senior Brad Mayes and Nick Shafnisky, ’16, achieved decorated careers as Lehigh’s two most recent starting quarterbacks. Mayes holds the all-time record for completion percentage (64.67 percent), which he established throughout his career at Lehigh. Shafnisky was a three-year starter before Mayes and is fourth all-time in career passing yards with 7,467.

Monaco is the only quarterback on the roster who has played alongside both Mayes and Shafnisky. He said he hopes to utilize the knowledge and experience he accumulated from them to develop into the best quarterback he can be.

“They’re both very talented players who had very successful careers at Lehigh,” Monaco said. “I’ve learned a lot from spending time with them, whether it is out on the field, in the (quarterback) room or off the field.”

Tom Gilmore will replace Andy Coen as head coach this upcoming season. Gilmore started his role as coach in January.

Gilmore decided to include last year’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Scott Brisson in his re-structured coaching staff to establish continuity between players and coaches.

“Having (Brisson) in this transition and using a lot of similar concepts really help them evolve in the system as compared to learning a completely new system and having a completely new coaching staff,” Gilmore said.

Monaco served as the team’s starting quarterback for its annual Brown and White spring game on April 13, where he went 2 for 9 and had 19 passing yards.

Lehigh freshman quarterback Alec Beesmer poses in front of The Rivalry poster on April 23, 2019, in Taylor Gymnasium. Beesmer is the youngest of the three potential starting quarterbacks this coming fall. (Meghan Nolte/B&W Staff)

Beesmer went 3 for 6 with 36 passing yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Austin Dambach.

Despite his one interception, Shoup posted the best statistics of the three quarterbacks, throwing 6 for 8 with 60 passing yards and capitalizing on a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Devon Bibbens.

“Being able to finally go out and have a live game was a lot of fun and something all of us have been looking forward to all spring,” Shoup said. “At the same time, we try and look at it as another practice, but definitely being in that atmosphere adds a new element and brings out the competitive edge in everybody.”

While all three quarterbacks are fighting for the first spot on the depth chart, there has been no bad blood between them. Beesmer said competing for the starting quarterback position in college is different than high school.

“You would think it would be more like everyone wants to beat each other out and you don’t like the person you are competing against, but that is more like high school football,” Beesmer said. “Once you get to college football, every single teammate is one of your brothers, and you get to see these guys every single day of the year so you become close with every player.”

This spring has served as a new experience for every player on the roster as the team is adjusting to Gilmore’s different coaching approach. So far, his style has proved to be more demanding than years past.

“It’s been a smooth transition with the new coaching staff because coach Gilmore holds us to a very high standard,” Monaco said. “It can be challenging at times to meet those standards, but it’s because he wants us to be the best students, athletes and overall team that we can be.”

Gilmore said he is eager to establish the team’s quarterback position as soon as possible.

“The quarterback situation is unique because you would like to have your starter named in that position as early as possible so you know how to tailor what you’re doing offensively to his strengths, and so the team knows who its trigger man is,” Gilmore said. “We haven’t named that starter yet, but hopefully we can do that sometime early enough in the preseason camp so we can establish him in that leader position, as well as make sure he gets enough reps for the first game.”

Lehigh will open the 2019 season at home against Saint Francis on August 31.

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