First-year head coach Timmy Chang has a big decision looming
The Rainbow Warriors open the season vs. Vanderbilt on August 27
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Question mark at quarterback
Last winter, the University of Hawaii football program experienced a mass exodus. Following allegations of former head coach Todd Graham’s verbal abuse and subsequent resignation, nearly 20 student-athletes from Hawaii’s program transferred off the island. Among them: Chevan Cordeiro, Hawaii’s 2021 starting quarterback, who left for San Jose State.
Hawaii’s fall camp opened on July 27, here’s what head coach Timmy Chang had to say about the ongoing quarterback situation:
“As far as quarterback and even the other positions, we recruited all the way until July and so getting these guys in and letting them be able to compete as far as quarterback and some of these other positions—we are not set in stone until we watch these guys compete for about two weeks and we’ll flip into our Vanderbilt game plan,” Chang said to KHON2. “But they got to go out there and compete. There’s six on the roster and all of them can throw. They all do things a little bit different but at the end of the day it’s the guy that distributes the ball and makes the best decisions. That’s the guy that’s going to get the nod.”
With Chang at the helm and Ian Shoemaker, former offensive coordinator at Eastern Washington, guiding the offense, the Rainbow Warriors are expected to return to their “run ‘n’ shoot” style offensive roots which means that solid quarterback play will be at a premium if Hawaii wants to exceed their preseason projections in the West Division. Here’s a rundown of Chang’s options to replace Corderio under center:
The returning guy
Brayden Schager —The Texas native is the only guy on the roster who has played a down at quarterback for Hawaii. The second-year Schager was primarily Corderio’s backup most of last year but did see action in six games, including three starts. Schager’s most memorable moment from 2021 has to be when he lead Hawaii to a fourth quarter comeback over nationally-ranked Fresno State. He finished the season with a 2-1 record as a starter, throwing for 615 yards and two touchdowns while completing 60.1% of his passes.
At Mountain West Media Day, Schager was the first name out of Chang’s mouth when asked about who will fill Corderio’s shoes. While Chang has repeatedly said that the fall camp will see an open quarterback competition, Schager surely has to have somewhat of an edge on the others considering his experience from the previous season.
#HawaiiFB's Brayden Schager enters his 2nd training camp in a completely different position than a year ago – the early favorite to open @HawaiiFootball's season as the starter. He's embracing the competition #GoBows
— Alan Hoshida (@AHoshidaSports) July 28, 2022
Joey Yellen —The two-time transfer Yellen has sat behind two solid college football quarterbacks at his previous two stops, Arizona State and Pittsburgh. At Arizona St., Yellen backed-up Jayden Daniels, currently the projected starter at Louisiana State University. During his one start in 2019, Yellen threw for four touchdowns and 292 yards in a loss to the University of Southern California. The former four star recruit then transferred to Pitt where he sat behind Kenny Pickett, the first-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers this year.
At Pitt, Yellen played in four games—all in 2020—where he threw for 402 yards, one touchdown and three picks while completing 45% of his passes.
The California native committed to Hawaii this spring—after Chang had been hired—which means that Chang likely had a hand in getting Yellen to the island. Of the quarterbacks on the roster, Yellen may be the biggest unknown, having not played significant time since the COVID riddled 2020 season. Still, considering Chang had a hand in bringing him to Hawaii, there must be some potential that Yellen could land the starting job come late August.
New Hawai’i football transfer Joey Yellen opens training camp ‘confident’ in competition at quarterback https://t.co/Nq6pGXHOJw @HawaiiFootball #HawaiiFB #GoBows 📝 @c_shimabuku 🤙🏽 @JoeyYellen pic.twitter.com/OWYsYEoMYq
— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) July 28, 2022
Cammon Cooper — The Washington State transfer came into the program at an interesting time. He committed in January, after many student-athletes had already hopped in the transfer portal but before Graham had resigned later that month. In a Jan. interview with WarriorSportsNetwork.com, Cooper explained that Graham played a significant role in bringing him to the island.
“I know there’s guys obviously still on the team that have played before too,” Cooper told WarriorSportsNetwork.com. “But with Chevan leaving, there wasn’t really a better place in the country with an opportunity to compete like there is at Hawaii right now.”
The former four star recruit never saw much significant time at Washington St., spending much of his time there in a backup role. Still, the Utah native has plenty of arm talent and could fit nicely in Chang’s expected run ‘n’ shoot offense.
“I think being able to go through my reads and progressions like a pro-style quarterback is really good. I obviously went to Wazzu wanting to be in an air raid and I know Hawaii throws the ball around a bunch,” Cooper said to WarriorSportsNetwork. “The last two years I’ve been running the ball a lot more. I can make a play if I need to and extend plays with my legs which I think will help out the offense.”
Cooper enrolled at Hawaii last spring and went through spring ball with Chang and the rest of the Rainbow Warriors. He should be firmly in the mix for the starting role.
Hawaii has three other quarterbacks listed on the roster, all of whom are relative unknowns.
Jake Farrell — The listed sophomore from Scottsdale, Arizona has good size at 6-5/220 and has been with the program for two full seasons. Farrell spent 2021 season as a scout team member.
Connor Apo — This native Hawaiian went to the same high school as Chang—Saint Louis School—and is entering his second year in the program, having spent the last season as a member of the scout team. At Saint Louis, Apo backed up Corderio and Washington St.’s Jayden de Laura.
Armani Edden — Another scout team member from 2021, Edden transferred from College of the Canyons and Antelope Valley College. Now a senior, he has been with the team since 2020 but has not appeared in any games.
Prediction — Judging by Chang’s comments, the quarterback competition is fairly open but a decision on the starter will be made after the first two weeks of camp. Considering the available options, I would venture a guess that Chang will likely turn to Schager to open the season but I wouldn’t be surprised if Cooper made a serious to push to start after he becomes more comfortable with the offense.