In its own occasionally twisted way, football made sure Kent Myers’ versatility could never be off the field too long.
If Utah State coaches had their druthers, he would have redshirted last season. Or this season. He would be in line to take over as starting quarterback. Or maybe he was best suited to switch to wide receiver.
Myers has taken change in stride as the sophomore is expected to make his third consecutive start at quarterback in relief of fifth-year senior Chuckie Keeton on Friday against Boise State.
“Things can change really fast and you have to be ready for anything,” Myers told the Salt Lake Tribune in August.
He would know that as well as anyone.
Last season, Keeton’s year ended with a knee injury after Utah State’s third game. Two more quarterbacks went down before Myers was pressed into duty for the first time in the Aggies’ eighth game of the season. He went 5-1 as the starter.
With Keeton returning, along with another injured passer, Myers moved to receiver in the spring. The backup transferred, and Myers moved back to quarterback in fall camp. He was slated to redshirt, but Keeton sprained his medial collateral ligament Sept. 19 at Washington, an injury expected to keep him out until the end of October.
“He’s a selfless individual, and I think you saw that with his willingness to move to receiver during spring camp,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said.
There’s good reason the team called him from the bullpen once again.
In his first action of the season Oct. 3 against Colorado State, Myers ran for 191 yards, the most by an FBS quarterback this season. He led the Aggies to a 56-14 hammering of Fresno State on Saturday, completing 18-of-25 passes for 260 yards as the Bulldogs tried to shut down his running. In his career, Myers is 109-of-165 passing for 1,263 yards with seven touchdowns to three interceptions. He also has 490 rushing yards.
“People were excited for me to play, and I felt like I had to impress everybody, but really, I don’t care what other people think,” Myers said. “But also, you want to play up to what people think you are, so that kind of came into play.”
Myers’ only loss as a starter came Nov. 29 against Boise State, when he was 16-of-28 for 159 yards with 43 rushing yards. He finished the season as the MVP of the Aggies’ win over UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl.
“You can see it. He feels more comfortable in the offense,” Boise State linebackers coach Andy Avalos said. “Last year, as a true freshman getting in there, he did a great job, and he’s continued to improve. They put him in good situations to work to his strengths. He’s got some good wide receivers as well.”
Oddly enough, Keeton will finish his career without playing the Broncos. The Broncos and Aggies did not play in 2011 or 2012, his freshman and sophomore seasons, and he had suffered season-ending injuries before the teams met the last two years.
Still, the Aggies have gone 16-4 without Keeton since his first major injury in 2013.
“We know the recipe to have success,” Wells said. “We’ve used it the last two years, but that doesn’t guarantee us anything, though, for this year. We have to recreate that recipe, and that’s a matter of everybody on offense ... playing better around the quarterback and playing great on defense.”
From still digesting the playbook, trying to add strength and being forced onto the field to a suddenly veteran quarterback, the game is slowing down for Myers, a scary proposition for any opponent.
“Now I just feel like I’m going out there playing the game full speed because I know the playbook, and I have confidence that I know everything I’m supposed to do,” Myers said.