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Old Dominion down pair of quarterbacks this spring

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As Old Dominion begins the process to replace starting quarterback Blake LaRussa, who gave up football for seminary school late last year, they’ll be down a pair of prime contenders for the job in the coming weeks.

According to the Newport News Daily Press, Steven Williams and Hayden Wolff will be sidelined for all of spring practice as they recover from surgical procedures.  Both quarterbacks underwent surgery to repair damage in their respective shoulders.

Williams was the Monarchs’ starter in 2017 and for the first four games of the 2018 season as well.  Following a historic Week 4 upset of Virginia Tech in which he passed for 495 yards and four touchdowns after replacing Williams before the second offensive series, LaRussa started under center the remainder of last year.

Wolff was the highest-rated signee in ODU’s 2019 recruiting class and is expected to compete for the starting job as a true freshman.

With Williams and Wolff sidelined, the early stages of the quarterback competition will consist of a pair of junior-college transfers, Messiah deWeaver and Stone Smartt, as well as redshirt freshman Jonah Fitzgerald.

17-year-old gets start at QB for Old Dominion vs. Virginia Tech… in Blacksburg

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Talk about being thrown straight into the fire. At least it’s not “Enter Sandman” at night, though, right?

Regardless, Old Dominion will travel to Blacksburg for an afternoon game at Lane Stadium in Week 4 later on today. Thanks to first-half struggles in ODU’s Week 3 loss to North Carolina, Bobby Wilder inserted Steven Williams at quarterback in the second half and he performed admirably in his first collegiate action — 139 yards passing, two passing touchdowns in two quarters of relief work.

Williams, it was confirmed earlier this week, will remain under center this weekend against Tech and will be tackling his first career start against the Bud Foster-led Hokies defense. The true freshman, though, is no ordinary first-time starter as he is just 17 years, 11 months (almost) old.

Based on our research, the 6-4, 196-pound Williams would become just the fourth FBS player in the last four-plus decades to start at quarterback before the age of 18. The others are Khalil Tate (Arizona, 2016), Nick Isham (Arizona, 2012) and David Walker (Texas A&M, 1973).

It’s believed that Walker, at 17 years, nine months, is the youngest ever to start at quarterback at the highest level of college football.

Despite his youth, Williams, a two-star 2017 signee, has the confidence of both his head coach and teammates.

“At 17 years old, he has to become the defined leader of this organization,” Wilder said according to the Virginian-Pilot. “I personally think he has the ability to do it. … He’s very dynamic. There’s a lot of things he does well.”

“I’ve been thinking about it over the past week, and I can’t imagine myself as a starting quarterback at 17,” redshirt junior wide receiver Travis Fulgham said. “But I think he can do it. That’s what’s crazy about it.”