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Orange QBs set to battle

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SYRACUSE — Drew Allen has arrived. Terrel Hunt is ready. And the competition for Syracuse University’s starting quarterback position will begin today when the Orange kicks off its preseason training camp.

The quarterback battle has been anticipated since April when Allen, an incoming senior, announced his intent to transfer from the University of Oklahoma.

Hunt, a sophomore, separated himself from the other incumbent signal callers during spring practice and is listed as the starter on SU’s preseason depth chart.

Both players, along with first-year head coach Scott Shafer, discussed the competition that lies ahead at SU’s annual media day Sunday at Manley Field House.

“That’s the beauty of the sport, especially NCAA football, is competition,” Shafer said.

“As coaches, it’s going to be a blast to get out there and see those guys compete and have fun with it,” he added.

Allen is a 6-foot-5, prototypical pocket passer with a strong arm. Coming out of high school, the San Antonio, Texas, native was rated the 15th-best pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com and was a PrepStar All-American top 250 nationally.

But he served as the backup for the Sooners the last three years and has just one year of eligibility remaining. He redshirted his freshman year in 2009 when Sam Bradford, now starting for the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, was Oklahoma’s starter.

He spent the last three years backing up Landry Jones, who was drafted by the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers in April.

“I’ve been itching for four years. I’ve been itching,” Allen said. “No matter where I was on the depth chart at Oklahoma, I always pride myself on being a leader. I always led in workouts, led in games, it didn’t matter. So to compete for the job to solidify myself as the guy, as the leader, would just be a dream come true and something I have been waiting for all my life and especially for the past four years, being behind those guys. I was able to learn a lot from those guys, too.”

Hunt, meanwhile, has been sitting behind the graduated Ryan Nassib the last two years, one as a redshirt. The 6-foot-3 New York City native beat out fellow incumbents Charley Loeb and John Kinder during spring practice.

He capped off his strong spring session with an eye-opening performance in the annual spring game, completing 19 of 29 passes for 209 yard and two touchdowns.

“(My mentality) is the same as it was in the spring, just win the starting spot,” Hunt said. “Go in and do everything exactly right, don’t do anything over the top, lead the team, and may the best man win.”

Hunt said he was informed of Allen’s transfer directly by Shafer near the end of spring ball and welcomed the challenge.

“I don’t care, because wherever you go there’s going to be competition, no matter where,” Hunt said. “So I was the underdog and if I’m the underdog again, I’m ready to shock the world.”

Shafer was noncommittal when asked of a timeline to announce the starter. The Orange opens the season on Aug. 31 against Penn State in the “New York College Classic,” at MetLife Stadium.

“Yes. No. In the middle, I don’t know,” Shafer said. “That’s why we get paid to do what we do. We have to figure it out and you can’t have a crystal ball.”

Allen spent time in Syracuse over the summer and Hunt said that the two have treated each other as good teammates thus far.

“We’re fine, because everybody is friends off the field,” Hunt said. “But on the field, you know it’s a man’s game and there’s going to be some words thrown at each other, you know. But everybody’s fine. We’re just going to compete together and at the end of the day when the best man wins, you shake his hand. Congratulations.”

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