Clovis News: Sports

Ex-Clovis West QB may start for Washington State

In a year's span, Jeff Tuel might go from a first-year starter at Clovis West High to Washington State's starting quarterback.

That's the news out of Pullman, Wash., after Cougars coach Paul Wulff announced a change in his lineup for Saturday's game against Southern Methodist.

Kevin Lopina is out, Marshall Lobbestael is in as the starter, and Tuel is on-call.

Washington State is trying to recover from last week's 38-20 loss to Hawaii, a game the Warriors led 35-0 at one point in the first half.

Wulff doesn't sound convinced Lobbestael will be the answer to the Cougars' offensive problems. That's why the coaching staff is leaning toward not redshirting Tuel. Instead, the staff will start to prepare the freshman to play this season.

Wulff has been impressed with how quickly Tuel learned the Cougars offense, and then showed that comprehension in practice.

Wulff didn't say how soon before Tuel would get some playing time at quarterback.

"We don't want to give him too much, too quick, so we have to bring him along," Wulff said. "Our program is building, and we've got a bright future because we have some outstanding young players. ... Jeff is one of them. He's got an opportunity to play and can move our program forward."

Tuel didn't even start in high school until his senior year at Clovis West, playing behind current Cal redshirt freshman quarterback Beau Sweeney.

But Tuel made the most of his final year, throwing for 1,714 yards and 12 touchdowns, running for nearly 700 yards and accounting for 56% of the Clovis West offense in leading the Golden Eagles to the Central Section Division I championship.

Tuel still could redshirt this season -- if Lobbestael steps forward and plays extremely well, Wulff said.

"We do not have a solidified starting quarterback and we're trying to find one, and the only way we can do it at this point is to give these guys opportunities to prove it and step forward," Wulff said. "The first two games [Lopina] had an opportunity to play a lot and come out with us running the ball and Marshall has been limited in his opportunities," Wulff said. "And we feel very good about the prospects of Jeff."