There is perhaps no position on the football field more prone to stereotyping than quarterback.
Everyone wants to slap a label on players, and at quarterback either one is pro-style or dual-threat. Which, essentially, comes down to whether or not the prospect in question can run.
Michael Cummings can run. Heck, when he’s fully healthy - as he is now - he runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.6-second range and with the shiftiness and vision of a tailback. As a junior at Killeen (TX) High School in 2009, he rushed for 751 yards and 17 touchdowns as the leader of one of the most explosive offenses in Texas. Those are stats that tend to overshadow the fact that he also threw for 2,463 and 24 touchdowns to just seven picks.
He could run. Rubber stamp him as dual-threat. Of course, Cummings doesn’t see himself that way.
“I don’t feel like I’m a dual-threat quarterback,” the soft-spoken redshirt freshman said. “I just feel like I’m a quarterback that can run if he has to.”
His new head coach, Charlie Weis, agrees with that assessment. And Weis knows a thing or two about evaluating the position.
“Everyone thinks Michael is the dual-threat quarterback,” he said. “Michael is a drop-back quarterback with a cannon for an arm. An absolute cannon. The only thing he lacks is height and experience.”
For the 2012 season at least, much of the suspense has been removed from the quarterback position at Kansas, thanks to the presence of Dayne Crist. To put it bluntly, the senior transfer wouldn’t have come to Mount Oread to spend his final season of eligibility if he wasn’t going to start.
Of course, he has the prodigious physical talent, ideal size and knowledge of the Weis offense to earn the job on his own, and his selection as a team captain after just a few months in Lawrence, Kan. speaks to the respect he’s engendered among his new teammates.
The starter’s spot may be locked up but the battle for the backup role is hotly contested. With BYU transfer Jake Heaps on the sideline this season, that means the spot will go to either highly-touted JUCO prospect Turner Baty or Cummings.
Baty is a promising talent in his own right. A little bit bigger than Cummings and more experienced at the college level - he led City College of San Francisco to a mythical national championship in 2011 - he’s still a step behind Cummings in learning the offense, thanks to spring football, and doesn’t have his rocket of an arm.
Though, to be fair, there might not be a quarterback on the team with a shoulder cannon that can rival that of the 5-foot-10, 205-pound gunslinger from Texas - and that includes Crist.
“Mike can throw it,” said quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus. “Mike can throw it real well. He’s got good drop back skills and I want to continue to help him grow and get better at it. But he does a great job in the drop-back pass game with a really, really strong arm.”
Still, Baty isn’t going to give up the backup spot without a fight, and he’s shown improvement of his own during training camp from day to day as his understanding of the offense has progressed.
But the goal is to have the least amount of drop-off as possible in the event that Crist goes down, and right now Cummings holds the edge.
“Michael is still a little bit ahead,” Weis said. “Neither one of them have played terrible. Neither one of them has played great. Michael has such a big arm though and he has the nudge, because he was here in the spring time when we put it in .”
“Both Turner and Michael have gotten better and if I had to pick somebody to play a game right now, Michael would still have the edge over Turner, “ he added. “It is a competition, not just a lock-down deal.”