longer a back up, Stilley ready to lead offense
After spending most of his career
on the bench, Sean Stilley finally has his chance to
By Brandon Ortiz
Editor in Chief
Sean Stilley is the Rodney Dangerfield of college quarterbacks.
He gets no respect. At least not from the so-called
experts at preseason magazines, who are branding the
fifth-year senior with a big question mark.
Even the folks at EA Sports, creators of NCAA Football
2003, apparently dont think much of the 6-foot-4-inch,
224 pound quarterback. No. 6 Stilleys number
is so slow on the video game he makes the defensive
lineman look fast.
I guess it is just because I am a big guy,
said Stilley, who was upset his electronic replicas
weight was 12 pounds too heavy. ``They have me in there
as a lefty, too, so I guess that says something to you.
The reason prognosticators are underestimating Stilley
is his experience or lack of it.
Stilley has only started two games in his college career,
and spent three years buried on the bench behind Casey
Printers. But after Printers bolted to Division I-AA
Florida A&M for its pass-happy offense in January,
Stilley became the de facto starter.
Stilley doesnt have Printers legs or arm,
but he has the confidence of his coach.
He doesnt have to make the spectacular play,
he just needs to get the ball in the hands of the people
who can, head coach Gary Patterson said. I
think youll be quite surprised. He is a lot more
talented than what most people saw last season.
TCU is predicted to finish fourth in Conference USA
by the leagues coaches, largely because of Stilleys
inexperience. Most preseason publications, such as Athlon
Sports, have the same forecast.
There is no reason I shouldnt be a question
mark, Stilley said. They havent seen
me. That is an inspiration to me to erase that
That inspiration led Stilley to lose 12 pounds this
summer by ditching late-night fast food and eating lighter
He has also been more vocal on the practice field, and
teammates have noticed.
I think it is a big change, receiver Adrian
Madise said. Any time you go from second string
to starter, there is a big change. He is letting his
voice be heard.
Just a year ago, it seemed Stilley was destined to be
a career back up.
Printers entered last season with a career 18-4 record,
and in 2000 was the fourth most efficient passer in
the nation. Stilley, meanwhile, had only thrown 10 passes
in three years.
But Printers struggled at times in Year One of the Post-LaDainian
Tomlinson Era, and Stilley made his way into the line-up
after Printers injured his shoulder against Tulane in
Stilley played the game of his life the next week against
Army. He shredded the Black Knights secondary
by completing 21 of 29 passes for 273 yards and three
touchdowns at the time the best game by a TCU
quarterback in six years. There was talk the career
back up may soon share playing time with the former
But in Stilleys next start, he was lost for the
season with a high left ankle sprain.
Stilley put up decent numbers in limited playing time
a 63.2 completion percentage and 545 passing
yards in five games but thinks he can do better
with an off-season to prepare for the starters
Its not like I am being thrown in there,
he said. It doesnt feel like I am the backup.
It is my offense to lead now.
Stilley is the leader, but much like Printers a year
ago, he has another hungry backup desperate to play.
Tye Gunn is one of those guys that football is
very important to him, Patterson said. I
think he does go out on dates, but it is not a priority
In just a year, the redshirt freshman has jumped from
fifth to second on the depth chart. The headliner of
the 2001 recruiting class, he may be the most athletic
quarterback on the roster.
And he isnt shy about his aspirations.
I am going to try to compete for the starting
job, Gunn said. I am going to try to play
as much as I can.
Stilley sees the friendly rivalry as a blessing. After
all, Printers went on to throw for 1,159 yards in four
games after Stilley nearly challenged him for playing
Whether he can put up those kind of numbers remains
to be seen. Regardless of what publications say, dont
his teammates among those who doubt it can happen.
All the people that write those things dont
know what is going on, Madise said. They
havent come out here and seen him play.
editor Danny Gillham contributed to this report.
Sean Stilley asorbs a hit in a recent practice.
Stilley is the new man under center, after the
transfer of three-year starter Casey Printers.