Jared Funk is not short on positive attributes.
He has good size (6-foot-2, 202 pounds). He has a strong arm. He’s bright, as evidenced by the fact that he has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
The third-year sophomore quarterback for Vanderbilt admits, though, that patience is not necessarily among his most prominent traits. Yet, wait he must.
“I wish I didn’t have to be, but you do what the team needs,” Funk said. “I’ve been waiting my turn, hoping I get a shot. Maybe this year I’ll get a shot to play and we’ll just kind of take it from there.
“I’m not trying to push anything with anybody, I’m just waiting my turn. That’s all I’m doing.”
For many, any conversation about the Commodores’ quarterback situation for 2009 begins and ends with Larry Smith, another third-year sophomore, and senior Mackenzi Adams. Adams easily is the most experienced of the bunch, and Smith has the benefit of having started and played well in the Music City Bowl last December.
When asked about the position, though, coach Bobby Johnson almost always mentions Funk, a three-year starter St. Viator High School (Arlington Heights, Ill.) who was a higher-rated college prospect than either of the other two. Johnson noted that Funk’s name even has come up in special teams meetings.
“We even started to put him on some special teams last year and probably will this year, covering kicks or maybe blocking on kickoff return or whatever,” Johnson said. “He’s just a good football player.
“Jared Funk is conscientious, works hard and is tough – physically and mentally tough.”
Even so, he has had to tough it out through his first two years on campus, during which did not get on the field during a game. He was redshirted as a freshman and then was fourth on the depth chart in 2008.
The departure of Chris Nickson has moved him up one spot.
“Now that we have three quarterbacks, in the back of my mind I’m hoping there’s a little more opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m just kind of playing my game, we’ll see what happens and hopefully I get a shot.”
Already, the situation has provided him more of an opportunity during the current spring drills, which continue with workouts Thursday and Friday and then a closed scrimmage on Saturday. He threw an 8-yard touchdown pass in the first scrimmage, last Saturday.
He also will get a significant opportunity in the Black-Gold game on March 28.
“Everything we do in scrimmages you do a little faster,” Funk said. “So I treat it more like it’s a regular-season game. Our defense is trying to get to us, and we’re trying to get to them.
“You do treat it a little bit differently than practice, it’s a little faster, a little more up-tempo.”
Johnson says he won’t hesitate to put Funk in a game this year as soon as the opportunity arises. While he lacks experience he already has inspired confidence in other ways.
“He’s gotten a whole lot better,” Johnson said. “He’s gotten bigger, stronger, faster. There’s a progression of what we want our quarterbacks to learn and how we want them to learn our offense and he’s done a good job with that. I’m sure playing time would have been extremely helpful in his development but he’s moved right ahead.
“He’s still competing too. It’s not like he’s a last resort. We wouldn’t feel bad about putting him in the game.”