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Washington QB Taylor Heinicke: From Student to Starter?

Heinicke has proven that he can finish up a college degree. His next challenge?

A year ago, Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke was in online college classes and was without a job in the NFL.

Going into this July, he’ll be competing, at least theoretically, for the starting quarterback spot in Washington.

“It’s going to be a good [quarterback] competition,” Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera said. “We have a proven guy (in Ryan Fitzpatrick) that has the ability to lead us, but again, we have a guy in Taylor that showed us he can do it.”

As Heinicke said upon Fitzpatrick's offseason signing: "It's going to be a fun battle. We're going to hopefully help each other. I'm looking forward to picking his brain, getting better as a quarterback in that way, and whatever unfolds, unfolds.

"I'm excited for the addition, I'm excited for this offense that we've put together."

Heinicke started the mandatory minicamp with the second team and made enough of a case during the three-day practice period to keep Rivera firm with the idea of a quarterback competition during training camp and as the regular season approaches.

Yes, Fitzpatrick, 38, has the inside track. But at least it’s a race.

On the first day of minicamp, Heinicke showed off his mobility by getting away from pressure during an 11-on-11 drill and threw a touchdown to the second-year man out of Liberty, wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden.

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The 28-year-old quarterback notably connected with wide receivers Kelvin Harmon, Steve Sims Jr., and Dyami Brown as well. Heinicke completed a deep home-run-pass to the rookie, Brown, and a 20-plus yard-pass to Sims Jr., according to the eyewitness account of our SI Washington’s Chris Russell.

READ MORE: Washington Football Team Wrap-Up: Minicamp Notebook

“He [Heinicke] also – not surprisingly – displayed total command of the offense, one he’s been in for quite some time now,” NBC Sports Washington’s Peter Hailey said. “Fitz will have to bring it in July and August to stave Heinicke off.”

Rivera said it was a mistake to give a majority of first team reps to former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins and not offer his quarterback room a “real” opportunity to compete for the starting spot last season.

READ MORE: Washington Football Team Dwayne Haskins Debacle: Rivera's Regrets

“They are going to compete, they are going to push and I’m looking forward to it,” Rivera said.

Heinicke has proven that he can finish up a college degree. His next challenge? Finish the summer as the starting quarterback for the Washington Football Team.