College Sports

He thought his days taking snaps were over, but now he’s in the middle of a QB battle

Former Lynden quarterback has caught 52 passes for 745 yards and two touchdowns at Portland State but is now competing to play quarterback for the Vikings as a senior.
Former Lynden quarterback has caught 52 passes for 745 yards and two touchdowns at Portland State but is now competing to play quarterback for the Vikings as a senior. Courtesy to the Bellingham Herald

If the 2011 Class 2A state football championship game taught former Lynden quarterback Josh Kraght anything, it was to never say never.

Trailing Archbishop Murphy 14-10 with 4:17 remaining in the game, the Lions faced a third-and-16 from their own 3-yard line. An intentional safety, a recovered onside kick, a last-gasp 65-yard touchdown drive and an extra point later, Kraght and his teammates were celebrating an improbable 17-16 victory and a state title.

So, after two years of playing receiver at Portland State, Kraght probably should have known not to completely close the door moving back to the position he grew up playing.

Kraght is one of four quarterbacks battling to take the reigns for the PSU offense following the departure of Alex Kuresa. Kraght’s top competition for the starting job is red-shirt freshman Davis Alexander, though Scott Hitner and summer transfer Cade Smith also are in the mix.

He’s a competitor. He’s a winner. I know we can win with Josh Kraght.

PSU coach Bruce Barnum

“They (Kraght and Alexander) are very similar in a number of ways,” offensive coordinator Steve Cooper said in a Portland State release during spring practices. “Alex Kuresa was pretty good with his feet and making plays outside of the playbook. These guys are also pretty athletic, but they are better pocket passers than Alex was. On the other hand, their adaptability is yet to be seen. Alex was so good at that. These guys haven’t had those game situations.”

Kraght, who started three games at the end of his freshman season and has passed for 646 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions during his PSU career, obviously has an edge when it comes to experience.

“Josh has a lot of experience playing football, not as much at the quarterback position, but he has a lot more moxie on the field than Davis right now,” Cooper said. “Davis is making some freshman mistakes, but he doesn’t make the same mistake twice, which is really nice to see, and he has a huge arm. Kraght is probably a little faster in reading the defense, but Davis showed he could make the defense pay on the read option play.”

But for the past two years, most of Kraght’s experience has come playing receiver or returning kicks. The 6-foot, 200-pounder proved he was plenty capable of playing receiver at the college left, though, catching 52 passes for 745 yards and two touchdowns, and he still might end up being the Vikings’ best option at receiver this fall.

“By the end of the year, I felt I was a receiver,” Kraght said last summer as he prepared for his second year playing wide out. “I realized I wasn’t a quarterback anymore – this is who I am.”

Josh has a lot of experience playing football, not as much at the quarterback position, but he has a lot more moxie on the field than Davis right now.

PSU offensive coordinator Steve Cooper

Only time will tell if he emerges from the preseason position battle as a starting quarterback or receiver.

“What we really need to see first is which one of these guys, when he pulls the football down and takes off, is the most elusive?” Cooper said. “And the second thing is, when it is third down and we have to put the ball in the air, who is going to be the most accurate and consistent with his reads and put the ball on the money?”

Cooper said he’s also looking at which prospective starter can lead the team – on the field and off it.

That’s something Kraght definitely has shown Lynden fans he’s capable of doing, and Vikings coach Bruce Barnum has seen it, too.

“In Josh, you have a guy who knows the position,” Barnum told the Portland Tribune. “He’s a competitor. He’s a winner. I know we can win with Josh Kraght.”

The Vikings open the 2017 season with an ESPN game at BYU on Aug. 26 and will follow that up with a Pac-12 Network game at Oregon State Sept. 2.

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