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Sprinkles vying for Jacks’ starting QB spot

Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

football game since June of 2000, but a starting

position at Humboldt State is at the STHS grad’s

fingertips|Dan Thrift|.

Tim Sprinkles last played quarterback in a live game during his MVP performance in the 2000 Sertoma High School Classic following his senior season at South Tahoe High.

Since the final chapter of an awe-inspiring three-sport prep career, Sprinkles has gone from a strong safety/baseball prospect at Washington State University to a leading candidate to start at quarterback for Humboldt State on Sept. 7.

“There is nothing that I can’t do on the football field. I just need the opportunity to show it,” said the 6-foot-2 grayshirt freshman quarterback.

No, Sprinkles isn’t running out of shirts. He redshirted his freshman season at WSU, then grayshirted last year with the NCAA Division II Jacks. Sprinkles can still play the next four seasons since NCAA Division II gives players 10 semesters to use their eligibility.

“It took all of our coaching staff two days’ worth of drawing on the board to figure it out,” Sprinkles joked.

That must mean that the Jacks think highly of one of the most-talented quarterbacks to come out of STHS.

“Probably his greatest feature is his athletic ability,” said HSU coach Doug Adkins. “He’s as fast as anybody we got, and for a QB to run as fast as any of your guys, that’s pretty darn good.”

Adkins said that Sprinkles and senior Aaron Currell open camp Aug. 11 even on the depth chart. However, the third-year Jacks coach likes the touch Sprinkles has on his passes.

“Tim is more a finesse-type passer,” Adkins said. “He can throw it deep, but he has little more touch than most quarterbacks.

“(Currell) throws it through guys at times … he exhibits a stronger arm more often. Tim has a tendency to change pace.”

Currell played briefly last season, completing 9-of-11 passes with one touchdown and one interception. Both QBs shared repetitions during spring practice, where it appears the left-handed Sprinkles gained some ground.

“I progressed with every scrimmage, which the coaches wanted to see,” Sprinkles said. “The more experience that I got that was as close to game-like (conditions), by the end of spring I felt confident in what I was doing.”

What may hinder Sprinkles, though, is a rotator cuff tear that he suffered during baseball season while a freshman at STHS. The injury never healed properly, and Sprinkles has dealt with a variety of pains in his left shoulder since then.

“I’ve been putting up with this a good five or six years now, so I can definitely put up with it another year,” he said.

Sprinkles had an MRI exam last Wednesday and wasn’t too encouraged about what doctors might find.

“I’m playing no matter what the results are,” Sprinkles said. “If they come up bad or negative, I’ll deal with it at the end of the season.”

Summer treatment from physical therapist Jan Johnson has made his shoulder feel better than it has in some time, Sprinkles said.

Spending a season in what is now one of the premier programs in the Pac-10 Conference gave Sprinkles a perspective few quarterbacks have. By studying defense at the major college level, Sprinkles has more keys to help him read defenses in the future.

“I got to learn defenses from a DB’s perspective … what they look for in receivers, see what they look for in quarterbacks, and that to me is an edge that I have on another guy,” Sprinkles said.

An NFL-caliber receiver like Milton Wynn, now a second-year receiver with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also gave Sprinkles some doubt if he was playing the right position or at an appropriate level.

“He’s a guy who can run the 40 in 4.2 and basically can make a move that can break your ankles,” Sprinkles said. “For me, it was unbelievable to see that I was actually out there. By the end of the year I kind of got it.”

After giving up baseball soon after he arrived at WSU, Sprinkles quickly realized how much he missed playing quarterback.

“I began looking for any schools that were still interested from high school, and Humboldt still was,” Sprinkles said.

Whichever quarterback Adkins goes with to start the season should have an arsenal of weapons that would please even Donald Rumsfeld. Among seven returning starters include preseason All-America candidate Dustin Creager, a sophomore wide receiver; Great West Athletic Conference second-team running back Mitch Jones, a former star back at Wooster in Reno; sure-handed junior wide receiver Brent Adkins, the coach’s son; and senior deep threat Antoine Smith. These talented players should help ease the loss of record-setting signal-caller Jacob Kadle, who graduated.

“We have the most unbelievable squad of receivers I have ever seen, we have a line with a couple starters returning who have been working extremely hard in the weight room and we have some recruits coming in that I think can fill any of the spots that we’re missing,” Sprinkles said.

Combined with nine starters coming back on defense, the future looks bright for the Jacks.

“We can go further than Humboldt’s ever gone,” Sprinkles said. “The potential we have is limitless and the talent is unbelievable, but potential only goes so far, and that’s why I think the team needs a leader.”

Sprinkles has been leading teams for the past 13 years. He could be the wild card these Jacks have been missing.

Jacks’ 2002 schedule

Sept. 7 — At Southern Oregon, 6 p.m.

Sept. 21 — WILLAMETTE, 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 — SO. OREGON, 6 p.m.

Oct. 5 — SAINT MARY’S, 6 p.m.

OCT. 12 — At Azusa Pacific, 6 p.m.

Oct. 19 — At UC Davis, 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 26 — At Western Washington, 1 p.m.

Nov. 2 — CENTRAL WASHINGTON, 1 p.m.

Nov. 9 — At Cal Poly, 6 p.m.

Nov. 16 – At Western Oregon, 1 p.m.

Nov. 23 — At Sacramento State, 1 p.m.

NOTE: Home games are in ALL CAPS.


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