Lumberjacks to address questions about quarterback

Updated: August 6, 2003, 9:37 PM ET

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Northern Arizona opened practice Wednesday for the 2003 season with plenty of questions about who will be the team's starting quarterback for its Aug. 30 season opener against St. Mary's.

Seniors Clint Womack and Guy Tomcheck and freshman Jason Murrietta will be in the mix in what NAU coach Jerome Souers called a wide-open race for the starting quarterback position.

The Lumberjacks finished 6-5 last season and were picked to finish fourth in the Big Sky by the league's coaches last month.

Wideout Clarence Moore, a senior who led NAU with 61 catches for 925 yards and nine touchdowns last season, will sit out of the first week of practice. He is waiting for grades from a summer course to be posted to find out if he's academically eligible for the upcoming year.

Womack played in 10 games last season and threw for 1,950 yards with 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Tomcheck, a senior transfer who saw limited action at Baylor, and Murrietta will challenge Womack for the starting role.

Murrietta, a Glendale Ironwood graduate, intrigues the NAU staff, despite being a freshman.

"He has outstanding leadership potential and he has great intangibles," Souers said. "He has a great presence in the pocket, and he makes great decisions."

Another thing to watch during the three weeks leading to the season opener is the battle at running back.

Senior Brian Bingham struggled last season after spraining his knee in the first week of the season and never returned to form, finishing the year with just 262 yards.

Bingham was fully healed for spring practice and ran with renewed confidence.

"He never got back into the rhythm he was used to (last season)," Souers said. "In the spring, he took his game to a level that we hadn't seen since he's been here."

In Bingham's place last year, walk-on Philo Sanchez rushed for a team-high 445 yards.

A Tucson Sunnyside graduate who is a diminutive 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, Sanchez is in the running to be NAU's starting tailback.

"He's proof that it's not the size of your body that matters," Souers said. "If you have a big heart, you can find a place to play on the football field."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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