San Jose State football: Quarterback competition headlines 2024 spring game (2024)

SAN JOSE — A year ago, San Jose State had a clear succession plan for when star quarterback Chevan Cordeiro eventually graduated.

Former SJSU head coach Brent Brennan brought in University of Oregon and Liberty High School quarterback Jay Butterfield from the transfer portal and recruited highly-touted Sacramento area high school QB Anthony Garcia to be SJSU’s future playmakers once Cordeiro left the program after the 2023 season.

Since then, Brennan has left to be the head coach at the University of Arizona, Garcia has followed the long-time SJSU head coach, and Butterfield has fallen to fourth on the depth chart.

Enter Saturday, and new SJSU head coach Ken Niumatalolo has made it clear there will be a quarterback competition for who will be under center for the Spartans next season.

Two quarterbacks on the roster have caught his eye: Walker Eget and Emmett Brown.

“Right now it’s neck-and-neck between Walker and Emmett right now,” Niumatalolo said. “Right now I’m looking for the guy who’s going to take care of the ball for us and also be the leader that commands the respect from both sides of the ball.”

Eget, a redshirt sophom*ore, was Cordeiro’s backup in 2022 and the third-string quarterback behind Butterfield last season. The Southern California product has thrown just one pass in his three years at SJSU but has impressed his teammates with his accuracy on throws.

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“He throws dots,” said SJSU cornerback Michael Dansby. “He’s going to be something to reckon with for sure.”

Eget started Saturday’s spring game, taking a majority of reps with the starting offense. He completed 7 of his 15 passes and threw his best ball when he found wide receiver Sebastian Macaluso on a go-route down the right sideline.

“I thought I got to work on a lot of plays that I needed to,” Eget said. “A lot of those explosive plays that we need to just get reps on, it was good to work on things with guys who don’t get to get in as much. There was a lot of production where we needed it today.”

Brown, a transfer from Washington State, had an up-and-down performance Saturday.

He wowed the crowd with his arm when he completed a 60-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to Cooper Hoch.

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But he also threw an ill-advised pick-6 when he attempted to complete a pass over the middle in triple coverage.

The 5-foot-11 quarterback was a three-star recruit out of San Marcos High School and threw for 14 touchdowns and 1,147 yards as a senior in 2021. In two years at Washington State, he only attempted four passes and was the third on the depth chart last season.

“The mentality coming from Washington State is the same in that we’re going to throw the ball,” Brown said. “Right now, it’s just about getting my keys down and learning my next read.”

While the two quarterbacks are side-by-side in the quarterback race, neither has viewed the battle for the starting job as a heated competition.

Eget and Brown have known each other since high school, working with the same quarterbacks coach, Danny Hernandez, during their offseason.

“It’s just been fun to compete with him,” Brown said. “Being a quarterback, you have to be able to build relationships. It’s a great group of QBs here, and I can’t really complain.”

Butterfield has fallen out of the running to be SJSU’s starting or backup quarterback. Redshirt sophom*ore Tyler Voss is currently ahead of the former four-star quarterback on SJSU’s depth chart.

While Niumatalolo acknowledged Butterfield has shown great character off the field, he admitted the once projected heir apparent to Cordeiro has regressed this spring. Butterfield garnered just two snaps and threw an incomplete pass in his only throwing attempt Saturday.

“Jay has taken a step back,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s one of my favorite kids on the team, but everyone can’t get reps. As we narrowed it down, it’s been Walker and Emmett at the top with Tyler right behind them. Unfortunately, Butterfield has moved out of that race.”

Niumatalolo didn’t rule out the possibility of signing another quarterback from the transfer portal, as he said he still wants to keep his options open.

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Familiar face at running back

With SJSU losing record-breaking running back Kairee Robinson to graduation, the Spartans have turned to sophom*ore Jabari Bates to take over as the team’s starting tailback.

Bates was used as a pass-catching back last season, but Niumatalolo said the 5-foot-8 speedster will be carrying a heavier load next fall.

“I’ve been super impressed with Jabari,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s not the biggest kid, but he’s tough as can be and he’s probably had some of our longest runs during this spring season.”

SJSU also brought in Grambling State transfer Floyd Chalk IV to be the No. 2 running back in the offense. Chalk rushed for 696 yards and nine touchdowns for the Tigers last season.

A tense moment

As calm as Niumatalolo is off the field, he showed some fire when he momentarily threw out defensive end Dylan Hampsten for tackling Brown in a no-contact scrimmage.

Hampsten wrapped up Brown and threw him to the ground, prompting Niumatalolo to stop the game to scold the freshman.

“Dylan’s a great young man and he’s going to be a really good player for us,” Niumatalolo said. “But there’s a reason the quarterbacks are in a black jersey, so don’t tackle him.”

Veteran returners lead new-look defense

While SJSU lost star pass rusher Tre Jones and starting linebacker Bryun Parham to the transfer portal, the Spartans retained most of its starting secondary.

Dansby, Jay’Vion Cole, and DJ Harvey were the team’s starting trio at cornerback last season and will look to lead this year’s group with defensive coordinator Derrick Odum back in the fold as play-caller.

“There’s a lot of experience coming back,” Dansby said. “Everyone can make plays. It’s going to be a fun year for the defensive backs.”

SJSU also returned defensive tackle Soane Toia and linebacker Jordan Cobbs, who are both expected to be key pieces on a young front seven.

“With all the recent coaching changes, it’s big for us to know we’re coming back to the same defensive coordinator,” Cobbs said.

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San Jose State football: Quarterback competition headlines 2024 spring game (2024)


Has San Jose State ever made the NCAA Tournament? ›

History. The SJSU men's basketball team played its first recorded game in 1909. The team has won 10 conference championships, appeared in the NCAA tournament three times, appeared once in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), and twice in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).

What NFL player went to San Jose State? ›

Josh Oliver (born March 21, 1997) is an American football tight end for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at San Jose State.

What rank is SJSU football? ›

For longtime Northern California sports fans, the nickname "Say Hey" is synonymous with #24, legendary baseball Hall of Fame centerfielder Willie Mays. For the 2020 San Jose State University football team, #24 is the Spartans' final ranking in the Associated Press and Amway College Football Coaches national polls.

What is Sjsu known for? ›

Top-Tier Academics, Research, and Discovery

SJSU places you at the epicenter of the future with more than 250 majors and minors to choose from across the arts, humanities, engineering, business and sciences.

What is San Jose State University ranked? ›

San Jose State University is ranked #4 out of 120 Regional Universities West. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

What is San Jose State's nickname? ›

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Eric Scott was named the San José State University wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator in March 2021.

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