QB2: Huesman plays important role as a backup

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Andy McLean

Though some players in App State senior backup quarterback Jacob Huesman’s position might opt to transfer in hopes of starting elsewhere, he embraces his role with the Mountaineers. “I wasn’t gonna quit, I didn’t want to run away from it just because I lost (the starting job),” Huesman said.

Connor Davidson, Associate Multimedia Editor

Senior quarterback Jacob Huesman is one member of the App State football team who doesn’t see the field very often, but plays a very important role. 

In high school, Huesman was a two-star recruit from Braden River High School in Florida. When it came time to pick a college, he chose App State over Florida International University and North Dakota State. This put him in the 2016 recruiting class with another quarterback: current starter Zac Thomas.

It wasn’t until the 2018 season that Huesman had a shot to compete for the starting quarterback position against Thomas. Thomas ended up winning the spot, but Huesman decided to stay in Boone instead of looking to be a starter at another school.

“I’m sure I could have (left), I never looked into that,” Huesman said. “I was bummed out just as anybody would be, you’re competing for a starting job, and you don’t get it, but for me, it’s so much bigger than football.”

Thomas commends Huesman for sticking with App State even though he knew he wouldn’t get a lot of playing time.

“I’m proud of him. He’s been put in some unfortunate situations. Being a backup quarterback at any program is hard, and all props to him for not wanting to leave,” Thomas said. “Just proud of him and the way he fights, and when he does get an opportunity, he goes in there and shines.”

During his first two years, Huesman made Boone his home and felt established where he was. Instead of leaving, Huesman took on the position of being the next man up as Thomas’ backup quarterback. Huesman ended up getting his first career start in 2018 against Coastal Carolina after Thomas sat out due to an injury he suffered the week before.

Huesman got some playing time in App State’s 52-21 win over Campbell Sept. 26. He rushed once for an eight yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. (Andy McLean)

“I still go out there every day and compete with Zac. It’s not like I’ve put that to the wayside,” Huesman said. “I got to prepare as if I’m a starter because you never know, and it happened a couple years ago I had to go play against Coastal. I never wanted to back out.”

In that game, Huesman took care of business and led the Mountaineers to a 23-7 win behind 127 passing yards and a touchdown. 

As he’s grown, Huesman’s role within the team has evolved. As a senior and also a second-string quarterback, Huesman ends up working with a lot of younger players who get reps with the second team. It’s his responsibility to make sure they’re ready to go when their number is called.

“I try my best to help those guys out and give them confidence because everybody knows you could be the next guy up, and you gotta be ready,” Huesman said. “Having that confidence is so crucial because if you go in there scared, it’s not going to be good.”

Huesman also sees importance in playing the best he can during practice so everyone else around him is prepared for game day. If he doesn’t perform well in practice, the wide receivers won’t get a chance to practice, and the defense won’t get extra opportunities to defend against the pass.

Huesman and Thomas work closely together, with Thomas seeing the value Huesman brings to the team, and the duo constantly pushing one another to be better.

“Being a starter, I think that’s all you can ask for,” Thomas said. “He competes every day with me, he always pushes and strives for me to be better, so I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Both during games and practice, Huesman serves as another set of eyes and ears for Thomas, pointing out anything that stands out to him to help Thomas perform the best he can. This can include pointing out small mistakes and running plays with him.

“While he’s taking the one reps at practice, I always stand behind him and run the play with him,” Huesman said. “If I see something he didn’t see, or he threw somewhere that he shouldn’t have thrown it, I let him know.”

Now in his last year, Huesman has a different outlook. Because this season will be his last playing football, he isn’t taking anything for granted. He is enjoying his time with those who have become his best friends and learning as much as he can from the coaches he has great respect for.

Each time Huesman goes to practice and works with the team, he says he appreciates how fortunate he is to be in his position despite his spot as a backup throughout college.

“I don’t want to go out at practice and be sluggish and not have any juice about myself, because I know somebody else back home that would kill to be here,” Huesman said. “It’s a blessing to be here, and you don’t ever want to take it for granted.”

Although his career hasn’t gone exactly as planned, Huesman has no regrets about how everything has worked out for him. 

“If I knew this was gonna be how it was when I was a senior in high school, I still would’ve made the same decision,” Huesman said. “I wouldn’t have taken it back for the world.”