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Charlotte 49ers crowded at QB, with Chris Reynolds the man to beat
Incumbent healthy, but has eight potential challengers
Published Thursday, April 1, 2021
by Ashley Mahoney

Charlotte 49ers football is swimming in quarterbacks.

The 49ers opened spring practice today with nine on the roster. Some lined up at receiver. Some are brand new to the program, but everyone has to beat junior Chris Reynolds for the starting job.

“Somebody is going to have to come in and beat him out for it to happen,” coach Will Healy said. “I joke with him and tell him I have tried for two years, but really there is nobody I believe in more than him and [I am] just proud of him, of who he has become as a leader and how he has worked and overcome his injury and everything you throw at him he conquers. He is a great guy to have as the face of your program.”

Reynolds, a walk-on turned scholarship player, competed against graduate transfer Brett Kean in 2019 to earn the starting job. While he did not start Charlotte’s first game of the Healy era, Reynolds led them to their first winning season and bowl appearance. Then he suffered a torn labrum on the first snap of the first game of the season at Appalachian State. Junior transfer Dom Shoffner waited in the wings, and Charlotte ultimately utilized both quarterbacks.

Reynolds, who opted for rehab over surgery during the offseason, will participate fully in spring practice, but once again there is someone new to push him. Charlotte brought in redshirt sophomore quarterback James Foster from Texas A&M, a former four-star recruit who stands 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. The Montgomery, Alabama, native has three years of eligibility remaining after opting out of the 2020 season. He played in four games in 2019, passing for 30 yards on 3-of-9 attempts and rushing for 15 yards on five carries.

“He is a natural leader,” Reynolds said. “He has SEC experience. It has been good to hang out with him and learn from him and bounce ideas off of him. It’s been fun.”

Reynolds said he has never been on a team with this many quarterbacks, but that much depth is a welcome addition. Having so many different faces also forces the defense to adapt as they prepare for the types of quarterbacks they will face during the regular season.

“You are seeing a whole lot of versatile stuff,” junior linebacker Tyler Murray said. “We have to switch up our defense. They are getting experience. They are getting new guys in. we are getting new guys in. That is just part of coming together as a team and working together.”

Healy added, in jest, that they have more quarterbacks than coaches. He said their biggest priority at quarterback will be finding ways to get guys competitive reps without letting Reynolds get rusty.

“We have got some guys who I think are talented,” Healy said. “The challenge for us as a staff is going to be making sure those guys get enough competitive reps, while making sure that Chris stays healthy and stays sharp. It is a good problem to have. It is really nice when you have a leader in that room like Chris who can show them how it is done and what a pro looks like and how to prepare and how to practice. I am proud of that group.”

Charlotte did not have spring practice due to the pandemic. Charlotte went 2-4 last season, with half of their season wiped out by COVID-19. The regular season is scheduled to begin on Sept. 4 with Duke traveling to Charlotte. It will be the first time the 49ers have hosted a Power Five program.



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