ASHLAND—With a week to go before its season opener, Southern Oregon football has named redshirt sophomore Wyatt Hutchinson its starting quarterback.
Hutchinson transferred from Western Oregon to SOU in 2017 and spent last season as the backup to Tanner Trosin. Hutchinson beat out Portland State transfer Chase Knutz in a battle that had been raging on since the spring.
“It’s about performance,” SOU head coach Charlie Hall said. “He’s had ample time throughout the spring, throughout the summer, throughout fall camp to establish himself as the starter. It’s been tough. It’s been highly competitive.”
Hutchinson and Knutz were jockeying back and forth for much of fall camp and their reps with the first team were nearly evenly split.
“Chase has been right there with him,” Hall said. “Some days he’s looked better, but I think (based on) consistency that right now Wyatt is going to be our game one starter and hopefully he’ll rise to that occasion.”
Hall and offensive coordinator Ken Fasnacht said what ultimately tipped the scale in favor of Hutchinson was his familiarity with the offense and similarity to Trosin.
“What he brings is the experience of being with the program, the experience of watching Tanner last year run the offense—he’s very similar,” Hall said. “He has the same body type, the same athleticism.”
“Wyatt is probably the most athletic of the group,” Fasnacht said. “Wyatt's skill set is probably the most like Tanner's, so we can do some ranginess in the run game with him.”
Between Trosin and Austin Dodge, Hutchinson steps into an SOU quarterback position that's had a rich recent history of success.
"The coaches always preach that we're standing on the shoulders of giants," he said. "Austin Dodge, Tanner Trosin were great leaders, great quarterbacks and we just try to implement as much as we can from them."
Hutchinson also inherits an offense and a team that’s in win-now mode.
With a wide receiving and running back unit loaded with star returners, an offensive line that projects among the best in recent memory, and a defense that has visions of being even better than last year, he has all the framework in place to succeed.
“It’s about trust at that position and I believe that myself, coach Fasnacht and the offensive staff trust that he’s going to do the right thing going forward,” Hall said. “We just need to give him that chance. Hopefully when the lights come on and there’s meaningful football to be played out there, he’s going to make the right decisions.”