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Bucs' QBs competitors, friends

Joe Avento • Sep 2, 2015 at 3:39 PM

 When East Tennessee State University rejoins the college football world on Thursday night with a home game against Kennsaw State, somebody will be under center.

We’re just not sure which quarterback it will be.

Austin Herink and Nick Sexton have been battling all fall, and Bucs coach Carl Torbush has said he might wait until gametime to announce his decision.

That’s fine with the QBs.

“Both of us are going to be prepared like we’re the starter,” Herink said. “Any time you have two guys preparing that hard, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think with me and Nick, we work really well together. We’re best friends off the field and I think we’ll be fine with whatever they decide.”

If Herink has one philosophy about his young college football career, it’s to never look back. He has made a career’s worth of life-altering decisions, and he’s only in his second year of college.

Herink initially committed to play at the University of Memphis. Then he enrolled at Middle Tennessee State instead. After one semester at MTSU, he decided to look for somewhere he might get some more playing time.

“I made the decision pretty quick,” he said. “I loved MTSU. I just didn’t know if I’d ever get an opportunity to play there. It was just one of those things. I thought I had to make a move, so I made it. I think I made the right decision. I don’t want to look back.”

Herink transferred to ETSU in time for the spring semester, allowing him several more months of learning Mike O’Cain’s fast-paced, spread offense.

“It made the learning curve less steep now,” he said. “I think I made the move at the right time. It was a tough decision, but I’m glad I made it.”

At ETSU, Herink has shown some command of the offense and a nifty passing touch.

Leaving MTSU wasn’t the first time Herink changed his mind. He originally committed to Memphis during his senior year at Cleveland High School, where he passed for 55 touchdowns and 5,709 yards over his junior and senior seasons.

“At the last minute, I prayed about it,” he said. “I just didn’t know if that was going to be the right thing for me. They had a lot of quarterbacks. Just to get reps was going to be hard.

“At MTSU, I played on the scout team and that was beneficial for me. At Memphis I probably would have been sharing scout-team reps. Every decision I’ve made has been really difficult.”

While Herink’s road to ETSU had plenty of detours, Sexton’s was a straight line. By the time he graduated from Seymour High School, he knew where his college career would take him.

“Didn’t talk to anybody real big,” the soft-spoken Sexton says. “A couple FCS schools, a couple Division II schools. This was by far the closest school.

“At the time it was Coach Torbush, Coach (Billy) Taylor and Coach (Teddy) Gaines. They were real supportive and just great guys.”

Whichever quarterback gets the start, the other one is sure to be supportive.

“It’s really neat how we all get along,” Herink said. “It’s more of a friendly competition. When we go eat in the dining hall, we all sit together and joke around. It’s been really good.”

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