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New Cougars QB Nottingham eager to air it out

By Jeff Birchfield • Jul 29, 2019 at 12:44 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Will Nottingham looks to bring a new dimension to the quarterback position at Sullivan Central.

While his predecessor, Jackson Harrison, liked to tuck the ball and run over people, Nottingham is more of a passer. His coach, Chris Steger, joked that Nottingham likes to crank it deep and he hasn’t seen a deep ball he doesn’t like.

In many ways, Nottingham likes to emulate his favorite NFL player, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, with a mentality of going for the home run ball.

Nottingham isn’t nervous taking over the marquee role on the football team, considering it to be an opportunity.

“I’ve been waiting on this for two, three years now,” said the 5-foot-9, 166-pound junior. “It’s been a big goal of mine.

“I feel confident going into this season because I feel I have a great team around me. There is a good line, good receivers to throw it to. As a team, we’re looking pretty good.”

He also should have some support from a ground game led by senior running back Joey Byrd.

Nottingham, an effective understudy to Harrison, praised his predecessor for how he handled the quarterback position.

“I saw his leadership, how he got the guys together and made sure they got every rep in,” Nottingham said. “He made sure they got focused before game time and he would hype them up before games. It was a big thing that Jackson taught me.”

A student of the game, Nottingham’s education has included attending multiple football camps during which he worked on different aspects of his game. One benefit has been the constant repetition of doing things the right way.

“Just getting the reps in, I’ve been to a few camps where it strictly teaches you form,” Nottingham said. “Fans don’t understand how complicated the quarterback position is. They just see the simple stuff like when you’re throwing the ball. There’s so much of it mental before the play happens they just don’t understand.”

Steger sees Nottingham’s strong understanding of the game and trusts him with the offense. While Nottingham usually tries to run the play called by the coaches, he has the freedom to audible when needed, and Steger likes Nottingham’s willingness to take over when necessary.

Nottingham first played quarterback in seventh grade when the starter got hurt, and he was the kid who volunteered to come in. Since then, he’s shown a work ethic to get better, which has impressed his coach.

“He really works his craft,” Steger said. “He’s down here weekends. He goes to extra camps in the summer and is always trying to improve. He spends a lot of time with (assistant) Coach (Brian) Barbour watching film.

“He strives to be the best he can be and we think he can do a lot of good things for us.”

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