Among the 21 student athletes who signed on to play football for Western were two quarterbacks. Two quarterbacks who will be competing against each other in practice for the next year for the most important position on the team, a position that the winner may hold for the next four years.
Skyler Windmiller of Mill Valley High School, Shawnee, Ks. and TJ LaFaver of Warrenton High School, Warrenton, Mo. both announced their intent to play for Western on National Signing Day.
Western’s coach Jerry Partridge made it clear that the two future quarterbacks will both redshirt their first season.
“We will not kill a year on mop-up duty,” Partridge said. “If they are playing next year it’s because of worst case scenario; injury.”
This means after the current quarterback, Travis Partridge, finishes his senior year this season, there will be a quarterback job opening for the following season. By that time the top two candidates, Windmiller and LaFaver will both have four years of playing time to contribute to the team.
“We historically have not had transfer quarterbacks,” Partridge said. “We’ve been able to raise our own and build them. In some cases some of them have had gigantic pedigrees, such as Drew Newhart. Some were considered option quarterbacks that couldn’t throw it and ended up being first team all-conference. So we’ve done a good job at picking kids out and developing them into football players.”
Windmiller and LaFaver are two of 15 offensive players Western had signed on National Signing Day. LaFaver is one of 13 signees from Missouri, and Windmiller is one of three signees from Kansas.
Partridge also made it known that there is no front runner for the position yet. Prior to signing, both Windmiller and LaFaver were aware of Western’s interest in each other. Both of them showed similar value to Western after they finished their high school careers, as well as other schools. Partridge also makes note as to how much self confidence they have in themselves to understand that a similar player will be competing for the same spot that only one can get.
“They were actually trained by the same quarterback instructional guy that Drew Newhart was, so they knew about each other,” Partridge said. “That tells you what kind of character they have and what competitive zeal they have to both say ‘look I’m going to be the guy.”’
It was difficult for recruiters to compare and contrast their physical capabilities because of how similar they are. Their sizes are virtually identical, being within one inch of height and five pounds from each another. Their playing styles are very similar, from their long ball throwing strength to their athletic scrambling abilities.
Although both are very athletic, running speed was the only category stated that one had an advantage over the other. Not only is LaFaver faster than Windmiller and Travis Partridge, he was faster than any defensive back or wide receiver they had at a combine-like event during his visit, according to Partridge.
Windmiller may be slower, but he has the slight advantage when you compare their high school stats. He had 2231 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns, with 586 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 92 carries his senior season, while LaFaver had 1829 passing yards and 18 touchdowns, with 466 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 91 carries.
There is no quarterback controversy as long as Travis Partridge remains healthy this season, but the following season will have a lot of questions. Those questions will bring answers that will likely decide who will be Western’s future field leader.