The spring game last year became an unveiling of quarterback Alex Niznak.
He carved up the defense by throwing three touchdown passes and only giving away one interception.
But that was then when he was a preordained backup. Now Niznak, along with three others, are facing more pressure in a battle for the starting quarterback position that will continue through this year’s spring game, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
“Last year was a great game for me,” Niznak said. “I think it was my first real opportunity to go out and play … When it’s game time and the lights are on, so to speak, I just get excited and things slow down for me.”
He said he looks forward to the closest thing to a game until Central Michigan opens the season Aug. 31 at Michigan.
“I just love playing the game. In practice, you always have coaches looking over your shoulder,” he said. “In the game situation, everybody’s off the field and you get to play like it’s going to be against Michigan.”
Head coach Dan Enos did not give a pecking order of where the quarterbacks are on the depth chart.
While he said the spring game is for the players and fans, he also said he is always evaluating players.
Like Niznak last year, the curtains could be drawn for another player to show off his skills in the spring game.
“The people that come out get to see guys that maybe they haven’t seen before,” Niznak said. “Maybe guys that redshirted last year or only played special teams. You get to see everybody do what they’re meant to do, so it’s always exciting to see guys on the field for the first time in live competition.”
Enos said some players do not arrive at CMU until June or July and do not learn the offense or defense on the scout team, but bowl and spring practices have allowed them to blossom.
Though predictions of who would have a Niznak-esque performance in this year’s spring game were not made, Enos did offer names of many under-the-rader players who have performed well in spring practice.
“Blake Serpa, a defensive end, has had an outstanding spring. Martez Walker, a tailback, has had an outstanding spring,” Enos said. “There have been a lot of guys that we redshirted that have stepped up and have had really good springs and have been really productive.”