Quarterback battle must come to pass

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a series examining the top five questions that the UNLV football team faces as it prepares to open training camp Saturday. Today’s question: How will the quarterback battle play out?

Omar Clayton is on pace to become one of the top quarterbacks in UNLV history.

But the starting job is not guaranteed to him.

Clayton, a senior, faces competition from junior Mike Clausen and highly touted redshirt freshman Caleb Herring.

"I’m not a believer that you can force that decision," coach Bobby Hauck said. "I think it has to kind of happen. Somebody needs to take the job, and I would assume that will happen the first couple of weeks."

History shows Hauck will wait as long as he feels is necessary. With national runner-up Montana last season, he went one game into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs before naming Andrew Selle the starter.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 205-pound Clayton retained the No. 1 spot through spring practices and has the edge on winning the job.

Clayton has made 23 career starts — experience that could come in handy when the Wisconsin defense is bearing down on the Rebels in their Sept. 4 season opener at Sam Boyd Stadium.

He has thrown for 4,742 yards, 1,435 behind second-place Jon Denton on UNLV’s all-time list. Clayton is tops in completion percent (59.8) and second in lowest interception rate (3.1).

The more interesting quarterback battle might be between Clausen (6-2, 220) and Herring (6-3, 180) for the No. 2 spot.

"(Herring) did some good things in spring ball," Hauck said. "He’s accurate, made some good decisions. He made some freshman-type decisions, too. But for the most part, he was pretty mature for a young guy and did a nice job.

"I thought he was a little bit ahead of where we expected him to be in the spring."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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