James Madison quarterbacks Drew Dudzik and Justin Thorpe are already feeling the heat, and not just the 90-plus degree temperatures in Harrisonburg Monday.
The Dukes opened preseason football camp Monday afternoon, meaning the competition between Dudzik and Thorpe to replace Rodney Landers is formally underway.
"I think both of them are first-string guys, and they can do the job," head coach Mickey Matthews said Monday. "We're just going to have to pick the best one as time goes along."
"It's a competition. It's college football," Dudzik said. "Everyone's competing, and we're just going to push each other, get better. And the best guy's going to play."
"It's going to be intense. Both of us are great quarterbacks, and the best one will win," said Thorpe. "I think I can get the job done."
Dudzik, a redshirt junior, spent the past two seasons backing up Landers. Thorpe is coming off his redshirt season as a freshman a year ago.
Matthews declared the quarterback position an open competition prior to spring practice. Following JMU's spring game he said the battle would continue into camp.
"I've been waiting all sumer for this," said Dudzik. "We're ready to get back at it."
"I've been very anxious," said Thorpe. "I've been waiting for this since springtime. I worked hard in the spring, and it's time for it to show."
Thorpe said he spent the summer working to improve his endurance, while Dudzik said he focused on his throwing mechanics.
Matthews said Monday that barring something unforeseen, both quarterbacks would play in JMU's September 12 opener at Maryland.
Matthews also said he knew what he was looking for, in his starting quarterback.
"We're going to do the same thing with the quarterback position that we do with any other position. We're going to play the player who gives us the best chance to win," he said. "Of course, when you're the quarterback, it's who's moving the ball, who's scoring points. It's not very difficult."