Griggs’ suspension changes Southern Miss’ quarterback landscape

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Southern Miss’ quarterback battle is still unsettled with three weeks to go before the season opener against Jackson State, but the list of competitors for the job is narrowing.

Senior Kwadra Griggs, last year’s starter, was suspended from the team over the weekend “pending resolution of a student conduct matter,” the school said in a release.

Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson did not elaborate on the reason for the suspension in a press conference following the team’s scrimmage on Saturday.

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“He’s one of my sons. I love him to death. That’s all I’m going to say about that,” Hopson said. “We’re a family. We just get ready to roll. We’re not going to talk any more about it. We’ve got a good bunch of kids. They rally up and we’ll be ready to fight.”

Griggs threw for 1,879 yards, 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions in 10 games last season. He split playing time with Keon Howard, who announced in July he was leaving the program with plans to transfer.
Howard’s departure and Griggs’ suspension leaves the Golden Eagles without an experienced Division I quarterback, despite starting the summer with eight players at the position and four vying for the starting job.

The recent developments likely leave junior Jack Abraham, a transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College, as the favorite to start the opener Sept. 1 against Jackson State.

Abraham completed 10 of 19 passes for 110 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions in Saturday’s scrimmage.

“Right now, Jack’s looking like he’s moving to the top. I thought he had a good day (Saturday). He made some good throws. I thought he ran the offense well,” Hopson said.

Also in the mix for the job, or at least some playing time, are redshirt freshman Marcelo Rodriguez and true freshman Tate Whatley.

Rodriguez was 7-of-12 for 48 yards in the scrimmage. Whatley completed 4 of 7 passes for 41 yards and one touchdown.

None of the Southern Miss quarterbacks threw an interception in 50 combined attempts.

“One thing you saw really good about Jack and Marcelo, was they took some balls about 30 and 40 yards and had some big runs. They’re athletic. They’re still dual threat guys. They can still take the ball on the edge and throw the ball really well.”

Although Hopson said Abraham is the frontrunner to start the opener right now, he also had praise for Rodriguez’s progress.

“Marcelo came in at the end of last spring and had two really good weeks at the end. He’s compounded that early this summer. I’m seeing Marcelo do a lot of really good things,” Hopson said.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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