Advertisement

Who will become UCLA’s new No. 2 quarterback? Let the Chase begin

UCLA quarterback Chase Griffin (11) during an NCAA college football game against Arizona.
UCLA’s Chase Griffin is one of two redshirt freshmen looking to secure the Bruins’ backup quarterback job.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Chase is being given in the battle to become UCLA‘s top backup quarterback with Colson Yankoff having moved to wide receiver in a bid for playing time.

It’s a tight race considering the similarities between the candidates.

Both are redshirt freshmen who were mostly recruited by Ivy League schools. Neither has thrown a pass at the college level. And yes, they share a first name.

Chase Artopoeus and Chase Griffin also possess supreme confidence they can lead the Bruins to victory if called upon to replace Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Advertisement

Said Artopoeus: “I think I could feel like I’m in command.”

Said Griffin: “I’m going to be ready to win games if that’s what I have to do for the Bruins.”

A one-year eligibility extension approved by the NCAA and a potential transfer rule could leave college football rosters in flux for a few seasons.

If UCLA’s recent spate of injuries at quarterback is any indication, at least one of them will play this season.

Advertisement

Wilton Speight didn’t even make it until halftime of the 2018 season opener against Cincinnati before going down with a back injury that sidelined him for more than a month. Thompson-Robinson was knocked out of a game against Arizona that season before missing one full game and parts of three others in 2019 because of injuries.

When Austin Burton filled in for Thompson-Robinson last season, Artopoeus became the top backup because Yankoff was sitting out the season as part of his transfer from Washington. Burton’s departure for Purdue and Yankoff’s position swap may allow Artopoeus to retain that role in 2020.

True freshman Parker McQuarrie, a highly touted prospect from New Hampshire, and redshirt freshman Blake Kirshner are the other quarterbacks on the roster but are unlikely to contribute this season barring unusual circumstances.

Artopoeus, a walk-on, was higher on the depth chart than Griffin in spring practices, but Artopoeus said on Sunday that both quarterbacks have been splitting repetitions with the second string in training camp.

Advertisement

Griffin owns the better pedigree, having been the Gatorade state player of the year in Texas after a senior season in which he threw for 4,102 yards and 40 touchdowns. The biggest question surrounding a player generously listed at 5 feet 11 and 184 pounds is whether he possesses the size to play major college football.

Colson Yankoff entered UCLA’s camp as a backup to the Pac-12 Conference’s most experienced quarterback. Now, he’s jockeying for playing time as a receiver.

North Texas and a host of Ivy League schools were among Griffin’s suitors before he chose UCLA, saying it offered the perfect blend of athletics and academics.

Artopoeus said he didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of Santa Maria St. Joseph High but had begun to generate interest from Ivy League and Football Championship Subdivision schools when he chose to become a Bruin.

Advertisement

“Once UCLA offered,” Artopoeus said of the school’s proposal for him to walk on, “it was a dream come true for me so I had to hop on really fast.”

At 6-1 and roughly 205 pounds, Artopoeus said he’s become more mobile since coming to UCLA after having been strictly a drop-back quarterback in high school. His speed will be an asset in what’s become a high-speed chase to find the No. 2 quarterback with less than two weeks before the season opener against Colorado.

Making a difference

Griffin has championed social causes on Twitter, asking his nearly 10,000 followers to vote and to wear masks at high school football games. He said he felt encouraged as a UCLA athlete to speak his mind on important issues.

Advertisement

“Luckily, I chose a home where the people by and large are for that and always have been,” Griffin said, “and this institution has always been a beacon for that and we’re not stopping any time soon.”


Advertisement
Advertisement