ASU junior Rodney Castlin took most of the snaps during the spring for the Rams, but coach Mike White would like to see another QB to come in and compete for the starting job.
ALBANY — Somewhere out there is Albany State’s quarterback for next season.
Rams coach Mike White just hasn’t found him yet.
It’s been two months since National Signing Day and nearly a month since the Rams wrapped up spring practices with the annual Blue and Gold scrimmage, and White said Thursday that he and his coaching staff are still looking for a QB to come in and compete for the starting job this season.
Junior Rodney Castlin got the majority of the snaps in last month’s spring scrimmage, but White said back in February that he wasn’t sure if Castlin was the answer to the QB situation.
He echoed those feelings Thursday and said he is holding out hope that a new QB will be signed before practice starts in August.
“I was surprised that we didn’t get (a quarterback) back in December when recruiting was going on,” White said Thursday.
White then added: “I really thought we were going to have somebody in here during the spring, but at the same time I didn’t want to just sign somebody just to have somebody here. I wanted to have the right guy. I am confident we will get somebody in here.”
Castlin played sparingly last season but was under center for the majority of the second half in ASU’s final game of the season, a 38-20 loss to Fort Valley State in the Fountain City Classic, and Castlin’s numbers in that game — 8-for-26 for 138 yards and three interceptions and 10 rushes for minus-5 yards — were less than impressive.
Castlin played at ASU as a freshman under offensive coordinator Steve Smith before transferring to Arizona Western College and playing in the secondary for two years, but he returned to Albany last year and was the third-string QB behind seniors David Kooi and Keenan Grissett. He threw two touchdowns in last month’s spring scrimmage and has improved since last year’s outing in the FCC, but he has a ways to go before locking up the starting job.
“I am almost certain that we will bring in a QB to compete for the spot. I thought Rodney did a good job, but we still need to get better at that position,” White said. “We have some guys we are looking at, but we are waiting to make sure that we make the right decision.”
While the quarterback position is likely the biggest question mark going forward for the Rams, White said he was most impressed with his linebackers during spring practices.
The team returns four linebackers with starting experience, including former Monroe star Larry Whitfield, who led the team in tackles as a freshman in 2011, and Tavarius Washington, who was the leading tackler last year.
“The linebackers did a good job overall as a group, especially the young guys behind (Marcavius) Dudley, Washington and Whitfield,” White said. “And that’s really what we want from the spring, to see guys step up and challenge for positions.”
RUNNING PROBLEMS: The Rams ranked 100th in the nation last season in rushing, and with the graduation of star RB Nathan Hoyte, the running game could be in for another long year.
It got even more ominous last month when junior RB Adrian Alexander broke a bone in his foot. And while White said Thursday that Alexander will be healthy for the season opener, he also said he was less than pleased with the running game during the spring.
“We still aren’t able to run the ball,” White said. “That was the most disappointing thing from the spring. With (offensive linemen) Hakeem Lassiter and Victor Moli going against a young defensive line that really hadn’t played a lot, I thought we would be better there. That was the most disappointing thing.”
Senior Kareem Hess, who is back for his sixth season with the Rams after injuries forced the running back to be redshirted twice, has been the most consistent runner this spring and has “been running the ball well,” White said.
NORTH GREENVILLE ON THE MIND: White still has nearly five months before the season opener against North Greenville on Sept. 7, but he is already thinking about the rematch of last year’s season opener, which ASU won, 24-12.
The Crusaders, who routed ASU in the opening round of the 2011 Division II playoffs, have a new coach for the second season in a row after Carroll McCray left North Greenville for Gardner-Webb after one year with the program. He is replaced by Jeff Farrington, who was the defensive coordinator at Virginia Military Institute last season.
“In a way, you have to start thinking about (North Greenville) already,” White said. “With them having a new staff, you have to give that some thought.”
White is also thinking about the Rams’ second game of the season — a matchup with conference rival Tuskegee on Sept. 14 in the Inner City Classic in Atlanta.
White said it’s an advantage to play the reigning conference champs at a neutral location.
“Versus anybody else (playing a neutral location) wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I have always said that unlike other teams in the conference, Tuskegee has a home-field advantage,” White said. “That is going to be a fun weekend.”
The ASU athletic department has yet to release an official 2013 schedule, but several other schools have confirmed matchups with the Rams through their own schedules, including Elizabeth City on Sept. 21, Miles College on Sept. 28, Lane College on Oct. 12, Morehouse on Oct. 19, Clark Atlanta on Oct. 26 and Fort Valley State on Nov. 9.