Woody Paige: Siemian could win QB battle on Saturday

Posted at 12:33 PM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 14:44:28-04

DENVER -- Mr. Olympia will start at quarterback for the Broncos Saturday night.

Not Theagenes of Thasos, not Usain Bolt and certainly not Ryan Lochte.

Trevor Siemian, who attended Orlando's Olympia High School, will be at quarterback in the first quarter of the opening home exhibition game of 2016 for the Broncos at (Fill In The Blank With Your Favorite Name) Field at Mile High (Stadium).

Yes, during the Summer Games in Rio, Mr. Olympia — as Siemian was known to his high school classmates in 2009 — appropriately will play a quarter and a half against the San Francisco 49ers.

Siemian of course will not win a gold medal, but he could win the Broncos’ starting job, should he post an impressive performance.

The appointment announced by coach Gary Kubiak on Thursday was not that startling. Siemian and Mark Sanchez are considered co-first teamers on the depth chart and have been splitting reps at practice. Sanchez started the first exhibition, so it seemed only fair and equitable that Siemian get to play with the first unit on offense this time.

Sanchez will take over for a quarter and a half, which means that rookie Paxton Lynch will finish up with the scrubs, as he did in the game at Chicago.

Interestingly enough, if Kubiak’s plan is fulfilled, Lynch will play more in the first two games than the two guys ahead of him.

So, the most important decision for Kubiak & Staff will be who starts the third exhibition — when most of the starters are supposed to play at least a half or more.

It’s Mark’s job to lose.

But Trevor could try to win it against the 49ers’ defense, which has been a sieve in the joint workouts against the Broncos this week.

When he was a senior in high school at Orlando’s Olympia High, Siemian was selected by his fellow students as the Titans’ Mr. Olympia. He was a member of the National Honor Society, was an all-around good fellow and, of course, was the team’s All-Central Florida quarterback with more than 6,000 yards passing and 53 touchdowns in his prep career.

East Carolina and Rutgers recruited Siemian long and hard, but once he made a visit to Northwestern, the lanky QB, considered the 33rd best quarterback prospect in the country, was persuaded.

Yet, his five years as a college player were not quite what he might have hoped for.  Siemian was redshirted as a freshman, although he was named — yippee — offensive practice player of the week prior to the Wildcats’ game against Iowa.

As a sophomore, Trevor participated in eight games, but primarily in cleanup-on-aisle-fourth-quarter situations. He did throw for three touchdowns.

Well into in his redshirt junior season Trevor finally earned a start against Indiana. He ended up with 1,132 passing yards and six touchdowns and played credibly in the Gator Bowl.

Siemian was named the starter for his final season, but in the next-to-last regular-season game vs. Purdue, on a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak, Siemian’s ACL was torn. Bad luck, bad play. Northwestern went on to lose, and did not become bowl eligible. Trevor’s career at the Big Ten university in Chicago was over. No bowl, no all-star games, no NFL combine, no serious attention by scouts. He considered going into business, not pro football.

But the Broncos were very intrigued with the strong-armed quarterback. They invited him to Denver for a pre-draft look-see, then sent quarterback coach Greg Knapp to Chicago for Siemian’s personal workout. The night before, Knapp took him for dinner. After Siemian threw 44 scripted passes for four NFL team representatives, Knapp stayed afterward and asked him to throw 20 more unscripted passes.

The Broncos’ Double K’s, Kubiak and Knapp, liked Trevor. Before the seventh round of the draft, Knapp called Siemian and said he was trying to get the team to pick Siemian, but the Broncos definitely wanted him to sign as a free agent if they didn’t.

Siemian was the draft’s 250th overall choice and the last QB selected.

After an off-season workout a year ago, I asked Knapp about Siemian. “Way ahead of where we thought he might be at this time,” after the rehabilitation. “Great arm. Smart, obviously.” Trevor made the Big Ten All-Academic team. “We think he has a real chance to compete.”

He beat out veteran practice squader Zac Dysert — and was given a Super Bowl ring after playing QB for one play (a knee-dropper) in the regular season and playing scout-team quarterback every week.

Enter 2016, and Sanchez was the early lock-cinch for No. 1 despite Trevor being the only quarterback with experience in the Kubiak system — and being the teachers’ (K&K’s) pet.

Siemian suddenly began to factor as Sanchez somewhat faltered.

And he’s starting on Saturday night with an opportunity to start in the Thursday night game to begin the season — against a team Siemian saw up close in the Super Bowl.

Watch Trevor Siemian up close Saturday.

Mr. Olympia could become Mr. Bronco.


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