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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

Eagle football looks for quarterback successor to Brenner

The Eagles have three quarterbacks in a heated battle for the starting job
Wesley Seyfang
Quarterback Trevor Bycznski throws a pass in the regular season finale against Kentucky Wesleyan in the 2022 fall season.

The Ashland University football team lost one of the program’s top quarterbacks in history as Austin Brenner graduated from the university after the fall 2022 season came to a close.

Now, the team has shifted its focus to finding his next successor who can pave a path into the next era of the program behind first-year Head Coach Doug Geiser. The quarterbacks battling against each other are redshirt sophomore Cameron Blair, junior Trent Maddox and junior Trevor Bycznski.

“All 3 guys mentioned have taken a step forward and have worked to fill that void that Austin [Brenner] left,” said Geiser.

In the 2022 fall, Brenner helped lead the Eagles to a 10-2 overall record with a Great Midwest Athletic Conference championship to go alongside the stellar season. He finished his fifth-year campaign going 169 for 268 passing which was good for 1,989 yards and 19 touchdowns. On the ground, he also contributed to four touchdowns.

Not only was he a leader on the field, but also in the locker room.

“Leadership from the quarterback position especially is important. Ultimately the team goes how the quarterback goes,” said Maddox. “I’m confident that no matter who plays on Saturdays we will play a guy who is a great leader and cares a ton about his team. When you can say that about not only one guy, but three guys I think you are in a really good spot.”

In his senior season, Brenner was named to the AFCA Good Works Team in the 2022 season, a nomination that recognizes players who are actively involved with a charitable organization or service group while maintaining strong academic standing. He also manned the locker room and kept it level headed when needed.

“When you lose a player the caliber of Austin Brenner, there’s automatically going to be a big void on your Football team.  He was our leader and our ‘heart and soul’ since 2018,” said Geiser. “The most important thing has been monitoring how Trent, Cam, and Trevor would respond, leadership-wise; Who was willing to step into that void?”

As training camp started on August 7, the leadership started to be displayed tremendously, and the void left by Brenner seemed to be filled.

“Based on past experience, all 3 guys have proven to be workers. I knew they’d do the physical preparation. Who was willing to “lead” this football team was the biggest question,” Geiser said.

In 2022, Maddox was rarely given an opportunity to step on the field as the third stringer, and Blair opted to redshirt that season. When Brenner was not in the game, Bycznski would be given the call to play as he went 28-for-52 to go alongside 234 yards in five contests.

However, Blair and Maddox did get time in the freshman campaigns under the bright lights when Brenner went down with an injury.

Maddox tossed 577 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions en route to a 48 completion percentage. His efforts were good enough to record a 111.50 passer rating. For Blair, he threw for 276 yards and one touchdown for a 108.30 passer rating.

With all three battling others on the field at one point in time, they now battle against one another to see who will be the starter Week One.

“The quarterback competition has been a lot of fun. At the end of the day, we are three teammates pushing one another and having a lot of fun doing it,” said Maddox. “I think as a position group we have had a solid camp. All three of us bring different skill sets to the team and it’s super awesome to learn from each other in that respect.”

The Eagles will look to name their official starting quarterback ahead of Week One where they take on Indiana University-Pennsylvania on the road at 7:00 p.m. EST.

“We’ll keep all of their feet to the fire and let them battle it out during training camp,” said Geiser. “I learned a long time ago that ‘iron sharpens iron.’ So, we’ll put them in that crucible, and let them battle it out daily. May the best man win!”

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