The 2018 Sam Houston State Bearkat football season is nearly upon us, with Coach K.C. Keeler’s group set to open up the year on September 8 vs Prairie View at Bowers Stadium.
This is the final of an eight-part preview, position by position of this year’s squad, leading up to the 2018 season opener.
HUNTSVILLE – The last two years have seen the Sam Houston State Bearkats boast the top trigger man in all of the FCS, but a new era will begin for the Kats on Saturday.
Jeremiah Briscoe became a household name over the last two years, setting numerous records while becoming just the second player in the history of the division to claim multiple Walter Payton Awards as the top offensive player in the FCS in both 2016 and 2017.
Seeing a player who has thrown 102 touchdowns in that span leave is never easy, but the cupboard is far from bare for the Bearkats with a trio of talented quarterbacks ready for the 2018 season.
Coach K.C. Keeler and his staff took the first step in replacing Briscoe following the 2016 season when they inked a pair of high school quarterbacks – Ty Brock and Eric Schmid – and then landed another big fish a year later with the addition of Mike Dare.
“I’ve done this a long time and I don’t think that I’ve ever had three quarterbacks on the roster at the same time that we are this confident we can win with,” Keeler said. “I feel really good about that position and I think they all have pushed each other. Each has a unique skill set, but one isn't that much different than the other, so whatever offense we put in, all three are going to be able to run it. The biggest difference is that Mike (Dare) has the edge in experience.”
Dare, a New Jersey native who stands 6-6 and checks in at 225 pounds, was one of the top-rated pro-style quarterback recruits in the nation coming out of high school after the 2014 season and signed on to play at Rutgers. But after two years with the Scarlet Knights he made the move out of Piscataway and spent the 2017 as the primary quarterback at Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania.
Keeler was then able to use his east coast ties and the allure of the Bearkat offense to get Dare to join the fold for 2018. He threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns at LJC a year ago, while also rushing for another three scores.
Though he carries a big arm and was tabbed as a pro-style quarterback out of high school, he still brings an athletic element that will allow the Kats to diversify their offense more than in recent years and enters the year as the only quarterback on the roster who has taken a snap in a college game.
“Mike is tremendously accurate and strong with his arm, but is also very athletic for a guy of his size,” Keeler said. “You can see him pull the ball down and run away from people. He can run the option game and all of those kinds of things. But all three of our guys are athletic enough to do what we want them to do.”
Thus, Dare is not the only high-end signal caller on the roster this year, with both Brock and Schmid having shown very well during spring and fall camps. Brock was one of the top quarterback recruits in the state of Texas in the 2017 spring signing class, despite missing much of both his junior and senior seasons at College Station High School due to a pair of separate leg injuries.
The grandson of former Sam Houston softball head coach Bob Brock, he threw for 402 yards and seven scores in the first two games of his senior season before a broken leg sidelined him for the rest of his prep career. Still, he was rated by HERO Sports as the top quarterback signee in the FCS for the 2017 class and was a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. At 6-4 and 210 pounds, he redshirted a year ago behind Briscoe, and according to coaches has returned to full form heading into 2018.
“Ty is tremendously athletic for a big guy,” Keeler said. “He’s someone else that we really like, and he can do everything well. On arm strength he’s probably right there with Mike, but Mike still probably has the edge in accuracy. He had a really good spring for us and has looked great this fall.”
The Kats are also excited about redshirt freshman Eric Schmid from The Woodlands. Even though he is the smallest in stature of the three, Schmid brings a winning pedigree to the fold after a career at The Woodlands which he capped with a trip to the 2016 6A Division I state title game and all-state honors.
“Eric is a legitimate 4.4 guy who really makes things happen with the ball in his hands,” Keeler said. “He’s an accurate passer and make things happen in the run game.”
The son of former The Woodlands head coach and current Bearkat volunteer coach Mark Schmid, Eric is a true dual threat at the quarterback spot. According to the Bearkat coaching staff, Schmid brings legitimate speed and elusiveness and could find himself on the field in a number of situations. He has been impressive each of his two seasons with the Kats in camp, coming off his last two seasons with the Highlanders that saw him pass for over 3,500 yards and rush for over 1,000 each year.
“The interesting thing about this group is that they are all such great human beings and this competition has not phased any of them,” Keeler said. “When we told both Ty and Eric that Mike was coming in, they did not blink. They were excited to compete.”