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MTSU quarterbacks compete for starting role

By Kayla Walker MTN Sports Reporter April 17, 2021

Three quarterbacks are neck and neck while they compete for a starting position throughout spring practices.

Middle Tennessee is on the hunt for their 2021 season starting quarterback, after former starter Asher O’hara transferred to Sacramento State.

Spring practice for the Blue Raiders began March 16th and concluded on Saturday.

Returning quarterbacks Chase Cunningham and Mike DiLiello are getting back into the swing of things while welcoming in NC State transfer, Bailey Hockman.

Hockman is a redshirt junior who played in 10 games and earned nine starts while playing for NC state last year. While adjusting schools, Hockman faced a tough challenge before the start of spring practices.

“I had a hip flexor in the beginning of spring, so that was pretty challenging,” said Hockman.” Getting past that and having to wake up and go to treatment every single morning, I just grinded that out and got through it.”

Cunningham is glad to be back on the field after a year off of spring practices due to COVID-19.

The redshirt junior played in three games last season while ending the year completing 9 out of 17 passes for 73 yards.

“I’m kind of an old head around here but I’ve been around these guys before, so I know what it takes,” said Cunningham. “I always want to be the hardest worker in the room, so whatever I can try and do to make myself stand out and always try to be one step ahead of the competition or anybody else in the country.”

DiLiello is also excited to be back playing with his teammates. One challenge he’s faced during this spring is adjusting to the new offensive coordinator, Brent Dearmon and learning the playbook.

The Florida Tech transfer played in one game and completed 3 out of 4 passes for 35 yards and a touchdown against Troy last year for his first year on the team.

“Of course, everyone wants to come out here and be a starter but earning the respect of my teammates, that’s probably more important to me while competing for that starting position,” said DiLiello.

“Mike and Bailey have been great competition so far and I think we’re all going to make each other better at the end of the day,” said Cunningham. “I think the biggest thing for me is, I just want to go out there and win games, so whatever’s best for the team, we're all going to do that and compete with one another.”


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