The Charlotte 49ers are turning to redshirt freshman Chris Reynolds as their starting quarterback in Saturday’s season opener against Fordham at Richardson Stadium.
Coach Brad Lambert first told radio station 730-AM The Game on Friday morning that Reynolds had beaten out 2017 starter Hasaan Klugh and Miami transfer Evan Shirreffs for the job.
“Chris had a really good spring and that continued into August,” Lambert told the Observer. “He deserves this opportunity. He’s really athletic and can maneuver around the pocket with his eyes down the field. He’s accurate and can extend plays. I like his pocket presence and demeanor.”
A lightly recruited high school prospect, Reynolds (5-foot-11, 199 pounds) played at Davie County High and sat out the 2017 season at Charlotte after joining the program as a preferred walk-on.
“He was making plays for the scout team and that caught our eye,” Lambert said. “The defensive kids were having a hard time getting their hands on him and he was driving them crazy.”
Taking to new offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery’s pro-style offense, Reynolds had an impressive spring practice season and completed 8-of-11 passes for 73 yards in Charlotte’s Green-White game in April.
Lambert said Klugh, who started 11 games for the 49ers last season and can be more of a threat running the ball, will be Reynolds’ backup Saturday. Klugh might also get some snaps in other areas of the offense or even return kicks.
“We’ve got to keep him involved in the game,” Lambert said of Klugh, who threw for 1,529 yards and ran for 532 yards during the 49ers’ 1-11 2017 season. “It’s a dilemma because in Hasaan we have one of the better athletes in Conference USA in him, so we need to find other places for him.”
Lambert said Shirreffs, a graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, hasn’t fully recovered from a hamstring injury that forced him out of 10 practices.
Nate Davis suspended: Lambert said offensive lineman Nate Davis, an All-Conference USA honorable mention player, will miss the first four games for violating undisclosed NCAA regulations.