LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- University of Louisville quarterback coach Frank Ponce is bullish on Tee Webb, and he doesn't try to hide his excitement over the promising freshman.
"I'm telling you guys right now, that kid might be special," Ponce said of the Cartersville, Ga., product during a video conference with reporters Tuesday afternoon. "He's got something to him."
There's only one problem. Even though Webb may be considered a future star, it's not the immediate future. Barring unforeseen circumstances such as a slew of injuries at the position, Webb will have to bide his time for a while. That's because UofL's depth at quarterback for the 2020 season is impressive enough to keep him on the sideline at this point.
We'll get to that depth, but first let's check out Ponce's effusive praise for the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Webb, who threw for 2,943 yards and 27 touchdowns with just four interceptions as a senior and led Cartersville High to a 52-3 record during his career.
"He's learning. He was like a deer in the headlights out there in spring ball for the first four practices, but the last three you started seeing the potential," Ponce said. "You started seeing the skill set in his craft, the ability to throw the football with accuracy and velocity. He can really get it done. He made some throws that were jaw-dropping. So he's going to be somebody exciting to watch in the near future. I can't wait to see what the future holds for him."
When Webb signed with Louisville last December, head coach Scott Satterfield also raved about his skills, adding that his physical tools are complemented by "grit and toughness."
But the quarterbacks ahead of Webb are no slouces either, and all have game experience.
For starters, there's Micale Cunningham, who Ponce ranks as the No. 1 quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference and other league coaches rank in the top three at least, behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and North Carolina sophomore Sam Howell.
In leading UofL to a spectacular turnaround last season, Cunningham set the school record for passing efficiency while throwing for 2,065 yards and 22 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Ponce says he's an even better passer now, and has overcome his tendency to want to run first and pass second.
Immediately behind him on the depth chart is Jawon Pass, who missed most of last year due to toe surgery, but is fully recovered. Ponce ranks Cunningham and Pass 1A and 1B.
"You could see a little bit of rust in him the first few practices, then in the last three you started seeing the old Pass, understanding and playing confident and throwing the football well," Ponce said. "He's ready to go. We're excited to see him push Micale."
Then there's Evan Conley, who showed off his accurate arm and the ability to run in wins over Boston College and Wake Forest.
"This spring his shoulder was a little banged up, so he wasn't 100 percent of what we want him to be, but he's good to go," Ponce said. "He feels awesome. He is very relaxed and very confident going into getting ready for this fall season. He's definitely always in the mix because of his study habits and his work ethic."
As for the entire quarterbacking crew:
"It's a very competitive room, so we're happy with the guys we have," Ponce said. "They're all good and that's a good problem to have."
SCHNELLENBERGER WINS AWARD
Former UofL coach Howard Schnellenberger continues to be snubbed by the College Football Hall of Fame, but he has been named the recipient of the 2021 Paul "Bear" Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the American Heart Association to be presented in Houston on Jan. 13.
According to a release from the association, the award honors coaches for work on and off the fied. The last three winners were Bill Snyder (2020), Frank Beamer (2019) and Steve Spurrier (2018).
“It is an even greater honor to be placed with past honorees, most who have been friends and colleagues at one time or another," Schnellenberger said in the release. "I am reflecting on the five years I was with Coach Bryant at Alabama and the three national championships. Coach Bryant was always a mentor and friend. We look forward to celebrating this Lifetime Achievement Award with everyone.”
Schnellenberger, a Louisville native who played at Kentucky from 1952-55, coached at UofL from 1985-94, compiling a 54-56-2 record. In 1990, the Cardinals went 10-1-1 and upset Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl.
He also coached at Miami from 1979-83, ending his tenure with an 11-1 record and a national championship. He was head coach at Oklahoma in 1995. In 1999, he was named the head coach at Florida Atlantic and started the program there. He retired in 2011 after posting a 58-74 record.
He was also the head coach of the then-Baltimore Colts from 1973-74, and an assistant coach with Kentucky (1959-60), Alabama (1961-65), the Los Angeles Rams (1966-69) and Miami Dolphins (1970-72; 1975-79).
PITINO WANTS HOOPS SEASON DELAYED
Former UofL and Kentucky basketball coach Rick Pitino and now the new head coach at Iona, thinks college basketball's 2020-21 season should be postponed from its scheduled starting date in early November due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Suggestion to the NCAA, push the start of the season back to January and only play league games," Pitino tweeted Wednesday. "Buy some more time for a vaccine and to get things under control. Although I can’t wait to be back on the sidelines, the health of my players and staff is what’s really important."
Pitino is the first coach to publicly suggest such a postponement, with most of the current focus being on the upcoming college football season.