MORGANTOWN W.Va- Just weeks ago, the starting quarterback job remained up in the air, and the uncertainty of Mountaineer fans started to increase for the upcoming season without a named starter. Now with Austin Kendall having fully taken over the huddle, his teammates and coaches have noticed a much different, more vocal leader under center, that should make fans confident in their new quarterback.
“I’m just trying to be the leader that everybody needs. When I’m on the field, I’m always in people’s ears saying ‘let’s go, let’s go,’ said Kendall. “I even talk to myself too if I make a bad pass, I’m just always telling myself inside let’s go, next play, (with a) next play mentality.”
Kendall’s last start came last season in a Big 12 conference game against Baylor. Starting quarterback Kyler Murray got benched for the first series of the game after arriving late to practice. Despite a quick drive that ended in a punt, Baylor muffed the punt giving the Sooners a chance in the red zone, but Kendall was removed from the game for Murray. Kendall’s snaps remained few and far between for the rest of the season.
This season with a fresh start and his own offense to control, many of his teammates have seemed to make note of his strong leadership style in the huddle, including redshirt senior offensive linemen Colton McKivitz.
“He’s really kind of taken off. He’s really taking control of the huddle and getting guys lined up and being that vocal leader up front and trying to get us going quicker if we need to get set faster,” said McKivitz. “He’s kind of stepped into his own and taken charge.”
Kendall was recently named to the Mountaineers leadership council for this season, a position that involves looking after the team, making sure everything runs smoothly in the locker room. Despite only being on the team since January, Kendall has certainly made an impression as a leader with his teammates and said “It really meant a lot” after being put in a position voted on by his teammates.
“He’s cool and he’s calm. I’ve seen him actually work a lot more, (and) talk a lot more to the offensive line (during drills), said Co-offensive coordinator Matt Moore. “He’s taken a more vocal leadership role in the past week.”
With early confidence from his coaches and other senior leaders, there should be no doubt that Kendall is the right man for the job, and the communication with his teammates should seemingly only increase over the course of the season, as his connections with his offensive unit get stronger.