Tulsa coach names Kilian starting quarterback

Updated: August 21, 2003, 4:24 PM ET

TULSA, Okla. -- Tulsa junior James Kilian decided not to worry about the competition for the starting slot at quarterback, a decision he said Thursday gave him confidence to win the job.

Coach Steve Kragthorpe credited Kilian's preparation and decision-making skills in naming him starting quarterback.

Kilian, who has twice started for the Golden Hurricane and played in 13 games, succeeds Tyler Gooch. Gooch left Tulsa in June to pursue a baseball career at Oklahoma.

Despite Kilian's experience, Kragthorpe did not immediately give him the job, saying he wanted all players to compete for the position.

"Right now, James has distanced himself to the point that he's been named the starter," Kragthorpe said. "He's had an excellent camp. He came in well-prepared. He understands the offense. He's making good decisions."

The competition included highly touted freshman Paul Smith, sophomore transfer Landon Keopple and redshirt freshman Shane Davidson.

"All of our quarterbacks have had an excellent camp," Kragthorpe said. "People talk about quarterback controversies. I think we have a quarterback luxury because we have solid quarterbacks that can play."

During spring practices, Kilian was in stiff competition with Gooch for the starting spot.

The preparation Kragthorpe noticed has been mostly mental, Kilian said. He said maturity has brought confidence he previously lacked in directing plays.

What distinguished him?

"I think just coming to work every day and just trying to make myself better as a player -- really not worrying about the competition just worrying about myself," Kilian said.

In 13 career games, Kilian has completed 42 percent of his passes for 401 yards and one touchdown. He also has rushed for 196 yards and four touchdowns.

His starts came against Louisiana Tech in 2001 and Fresno State in 2002, in both cases when Gooch was injured. Tulsa lost both games.

Kilian was a four-year letter winner and starter at Medford High School, leading the team to an unbeaten state championship season as a senior. He also set national eight-man and Oklahoma all-class records with 8,426 passing yards and 120 touchdowns.

His state record stood until last year when Smith, as a senior at Owasso, surpassed the mark with 9,574 career yards. Smith is competing for the backup job.

Despite his ability to scramble, Kilian said he'll run out of necessity "but we're not going to live or die on that."

Tulsa opens its season Aug. 30 at Minnesota.

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