Junior college transfer wins Indiana's starting QB job

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Richard Lagow waited four long years to start a Football Bowl Subdivision game.

He's about to get his chance.

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson announced Friday that the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Texan beat out Zander Diamont and will line up behind center in Thursday night's season-opener at Florida International.

''He's really playing the best,'' Wilson said. ''The other guys are playing better, and Zander gives you kind of a change-up out there. But the guy we're going with is playing really, really good.''

For Lagow, the decision cemented the notion that he could excel at a power-five school - even if it the journey there took longer than expected.

The big quarterback with the big arm left his home state of Texas in 2013 to play for Connecticut. Before the season opener, Lagow transferred to Oklahoma State where he walked on and redshirted. The next season, Lagow landed at Cisco (Texas) Community College.

There, he started for two years, throwing for 4,506 yards and 38 touchdowns, emerging as one of the nation's top junior college players.

Wilson convinced Lagow to give Indiana a shot, and now after attending four schools in four conferences, Lagow finally has his dream job.

''He has the arm strength, and he really has taken that leadership role on the field,'' offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said. ''He's really done a lot of things well.''

Indiana didn't make any quarterbacks available for comment on Friday.

Wilson's decision was hardly a surprise. After Lagow moved to Bloomington for the second semester, he participated in spring practice and appeared to take the early lead.

When practice resumed Aug. 3, Wilson said the quarterback derby would be an open competition, not a coronation.

After seven practices, Wilson already had made up his mind and divvied up the snaps accordingly.

Diamont, who was a better runner than passer in his first two seasons with the Hoosiers, played well enough to keep the No. 2 job. Danny Cameron, the son of former Indiana coach Cam Cameron, will open the season No. 3 on the depth chart.

Teammates were impressed with what they saw from all three quarterbacks, but understood why Wilson went with Lagow.

''Rich has grown in every aspect,'' receiver Ricky Jones said. ''I believe he's gotten on the same page as the receivers in a short period of time and that's pretty impressive.''

Diamont's advantage was his experience in the offense.

As a true freshman, he started the final six games after Indiana's top two quarterbacks went down with season-ending injuries. The former Los Angeles city player of the year was 64 of 132 with 515 yards one TD and four interceptions in 2014.

Last year, Diamont filled in again last year when Nate Sudfeld, the starter, went down with another injury. After replacing Sudfeld against Ohio State, Diamont ran for a 79-yard TD - the longest run by a quarterback in school history. He finished the game with seven carries for 98 yards, caught one pass for 16 yards and was 6 of 14 for 76 yards through the air.

He struggled the next week against Penn State in his only start. The 6-1, 174-pound junior hasn't played in a game since Oct. 10.

Wilson has used quarterback rotations in previous seasons and will look for ways to get Diamont on the field.

''We can put two quarterbacks on the field at the same time,'' Wilson said. ''He's not a receiver, but he can play on the perimeter. Zander gives you some running skills the other guys don't have, so you may see them both lined up in the backfield at times.''

But, for now, Lagow is the starter.

''I'm curious to see how he reacts in a game, because he's been great in practice,'' Wilson said.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.