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Who will replace Jordan Love at Utah State? Henry Colombi and Andrew Peasley headline four-player QB competition

Utah State quarterback Henry Colombi (3) escapes the grasp of Hawaii defensive back Donovan Dalton (29) in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner) Eugene Tanner

LOGAN — For 2 1/2 seasons, the Utah State Aggies had it made at the quarterback position.

Even amid some growing pains during his redshirt freshman season, as well as some struggles this past year, few in Logan would have traded Jordan Love for a different signal-caller.

The Bakersfield, California, native, who is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft, was electric while sporting Aggie blue and broke numerous school records along the way. The Love Era will go down as one of the more successful in school history and Love himself has a claim to best Aggie quarterback ever.

When spring football kicks off next month, that era will officially be over. Who will lead Utah State football into the next? That is yet to be determined, but a four-way battle between junior Henry Colombi, sophomore Andrew Peasley and redshirt freshmen Josh Calvin and Cooper Legas is expected to play out.

“When we talk about the competition at any spot, it’s all over this team right now,” Utah State coach Gary Andersen said. “These kids know that. Those guys are going to compete against each other. They’re all going to battle like crazy.”

Colombi is the most well known and experienced, and is likely to be the opening day starter.

A native of Hollywood, Florida, he has appeared in 13 games for Utah State after redshirting his freshman year in 2017. Colombi has completed 53 of 59 pass attempts for 460 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in his career.

This past season, he appeared in six games and did most of his damage in the Aggies’ rout of Stony Brook, where he was 8 of 9 for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He also played significant crunch-time minutes against Wyoming and led the Aggies down the field for the game-winning field goal, after Love left with an injury.

“Henry has stayed mentally ready,” Andersen said following that win. “Just watch him in practice. It’s not like he’s just over there watching the birds fly around, the pigeons up on the press box. That’s not what he’s doing. He’s ready. He sees it and he understands it, and I think he’s really playing it out in his mind, so that’s a credit to him.”

It is because of Colombi’s experience that he is slated to be USU’s first-string quarterback when spring camp opens.

“Right now, Henry is there because he has the upper hand,” Andersen. “He’s had the reps.”

Peasley has not had anywhere close to the same number reps — he has completed 5 of 10 passes in his career — but he possesses “elite athleticism” — athleticism he put on display against Stony Brook when he ran for a 59-yard touchdown.

That ability adds an element of intrigue to the competition.

“There’s some unique athletic ability that we have with two of our quarterbacks,” said Andersen. “Andrew is one of them and Cooper is the other. They’re elite athletically as far as quarterbacks go.”

Andersen went on to say that while Peasley and Legas would run away from Colombi and Calvin if they lined up for a 40-meter dash, the other two possess different intangibles. In Colombi’s case, those revolve around accuracy throwing the ball.

Those different strengths should only work to the Aggies’ advantage. Or so Andersen believes.

“We can use both of those young men as a vicious weapon,” he said. “Does the offense drastically change one way or the other? That’s up to him (offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder) and his staff to figure that out.”

Regardless of who wins the competition, and Andersen emphasized there will be a winner, the hope is to utilize as many of the quarterbacks as possible.

“There’s a possible niche for those kids because they are different,” he said. “Looking at it from a defensive standpoint, if I have to deal with those kids in that spot, or there are two other guys that play different, it’s hard for me. It’s like playing against pace. Those things are difficult for defenses to prepare for.”