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QB competition heats up at Concordia

MOORHEAD -- Andrew Larson is back at the position he loves.

From Fergus Falls, the senior is one of three players competing for the Concordia Cobbers starting quarterback job this fall.

"It feels good. It's kind of a comfort thing," said Larson at Concordia's annual football media day Thursday. "Getting back to where I feel most comfortable is a good thing for me."

When Larson joined the Cobbers as a freshman, he was a quarterback, but was shifted to defense to get his athleticism on the field.

"There is a kid (that) we didn't want him to stand on the sideline for us," Cobbers coach Terry Horan said.

Larson competed for the starting quarterback job as a sophomore, but again was eventually moved back to safety after Jesse Nelson (the team's starter again last fall) won the job.

Larson started at safety for the team last fall and ranked third on the team with 60 tackles.

With no clear QB choice heading into this season, Larson met with Horan last spring and talked about returning to quarterback.

"I expressed my interest and he said he would give me the shot," Larson said. "That's kind of where it started."

Sophomores Mike Dunham and Chris Gilson are also in the running to start at quarterback. Horan said he would like to have a starter named by the start of the week leading into the home and season opener against Willamette, ranked No. 8 in the country, on Sept 5.

Horan said a decision could come sooner.

"Larson and Dunham have the strong arms, and Gilson has a strong arm, too, but he's an unbelievable runner," Horan said. "We don't have a clear picture yet. We're still evaluating, and they are all getting an equal number of reps and that's what we want to continue to do."

From Willmar, Dunham was freshman MVP last season and got some game reps playing in four junior varsity games. Gilson is from Detroit Lakes.

"The competition has been pretty good so far," Dunham said. "I think we've all been playing real hard and we all want it real bad. I think our offensive line will really anchor us."

The Cobbers return four of five starters along the offensive line, including 6-foot-6, 310-pound senior tackle John M. Anderson. Concordia will be green at the skill positions, having graduated more than 90 percent of its total offense from last season, including Concordia all-time rushing leader Cory Johnson.

"The game is one in the trenches, if you don't have an O-line, you don't have anything," Horan said. "We feel good about where we're at there."

Larson got some reps QB reps his sophomore year before he was moved to defense. He completed 9 of 28 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Larson came off the bench that fall to engineer game-winning TD drive in the closing seconds for a dramatic 34-32 victory against former Power Bowl rival Minnesota State Moorhead.

"I just love playing football," Larson said. "Playing defense that was great, but my position where I feel I excel the best is quarterback."