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Johnson C. Smith quarterback rivals share mutual aims and respect
Wallace, Herbin benefit from pushing each other
Published Monday, August 27, 2018 1:57 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Johnson C. Smith quarterbacks Antonio Wallace, left, and Harold Herbin competed for the starter’s job in fall drills. Wallace, a redshirt freshman, won.

Antonio Wallace is winning Johnson C. Smith’s unexpected quarterback derby.

Wallace, a redshirt freshman from Charlotte, is the likely starter in Thursday’s season-opener against Wingate. Although he’s never thrown a pass in collegiate competition, Wallace will be the starter while senior Harold Herbin is the backup.

“It’s great to be the starter, but I know there’s an experienced guy behind me,” said Wallace, who is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds. “I’ve got to be at my best because I know he’s right there and that’s good for me, good for him, and good for the team.”

Wallace, a South Mecklenburg High graduate, made the most of the opportunity when last year’s starter, Terrance Ervin, decided not to return and senior Jordan Lane transferred to Wingate. Suddenly, the job was up for grabs between Herbin, a career reserve, and four freshmen.

“Right now, if we had to play, it would probably be Antonio Wallace,” Golden Bulls coach Kermit Blount said. “It’s a toss-up between him and Herb, but he has the edge right now. We could start either one of them. Both of those guys have had a great camp, and I wouldn’t be afraid to start either one of them.”

Wallace has proven himself JCSU’s best passer, especially on intermediate and deep routes, but success goes beyond physical skill. There’s mental and emotional preparation, too.

“This is something new for Antonio, and we’ve got to make sure he’s at that level he can handle that pace that’s going to happen on Thursday,” Blount said, “because everything happens so much faster. The game is so much quicker, the adrenaline flows so much for a young quarterback. We just want to make sure he’s prepared mentally and physically for the challenge.”

The contest has drawn the quarterbacks closer, said Herbin, who completed 3-of-12 passes for 16 yards in 2017. Even as they’ve fought for the starter’s job, there’s a mutual respect in terms of shared goals.

“The competition’s been great,” Herbin said. “It’s been to the point where you can’t come to practice without your best. We really push each other every day, whether I get the first-team reps or Antonio gets the reps. It’s a competition [as to] who can get better and lead the offense down the field, so I think it brings out the best in both of us.”

Regardless of who’s at quarterback, JCSU, which went 2-8 last year, has a remade receiver corps where the most explosive of the returnees, Desmond Dozier, missed the final four games with a knee injury. Wallace worked with several of them in Charlotte during the offseason.

“I didn’t play with any of them last year, so it didn’t affect me that much,” Wallace said. “This year it’s a new group, so I spent the summer throwing to a lot of our receivers, like [Mustafa] Love and Braxton Gambrell, getting to know them and develop timing.”

If Wallace falters, Herbin is ready to step in, as he has throughout his career. Better passers have played in front of Herbin, but he’s endured as a contributor when needed.

“When I first came to school, my dad told me about perseverance,” Herbin said. “Things aren’t going to be easy, things aren’t going to go your way, but one thing I take pride in is seeing it through the challenges, the ups and downs and at the end of the day, things work in your favor.”

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Herbin is a great quarterback.
Posted on August 27, 2018

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