Meet the candidates for UMass football’s starting quarterback job

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt freshman quarterback Garrett Dzuro takes a snap from freshman lineman Joe Horn during a Minutemen practice on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst.

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt freshman quarterback Garrett Dzuro takes a snap during a Minutemen practice on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst.

  • University of Massachusetts quarterbacks drill on the first day of football training camp at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. From right are graduate Tyler Lytle, redshirt freshman Garrett Dzuro, freshman Brady Olson, freshman Zamar Wise and redshirt freshman Luke McMenamin.

  • University of Massachusetts graduate quarterback Tyler Lytle drills on the first day of football training camp at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021.

  • University of Massachusetts quarterbacks, freshman Brady Olson, left, and redshirt sophomore Zamar Wise, take part in a Minutemen practice on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst.

  • University of Massachusetts freshman quarterback Brady Olson takes a snap from junior lineman Dalton Tomlison during a Minutemen practice on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst.

  • University of Massachusetts freshman quarterback Zamar Wise drills on the first day of football training camp at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/15/2021 7:09:13 PM

AMHERST – The old football saying goes, “if you’ve got two quarterbacks, you’ve got none.”

What if you have four?

That’s the conundrum facing UMass coach Walt Bell with the season opener against Pittsburgh approaching in less than three weeks. The third-year coach hasn’t indicated any separation among redshirt freshman Garrett Dzuro, graduate transfer Tyler Lytle, true freshman Brady Olson and freshman again Zamar Wise ahead of Monday’s scrimmage – the closest to live game situations the Minutemen have faced in camp so far. Redshirt freshman Luke McMenamin is also on the roster but hasn’t appeared in nearly the number of situations as the other four.

Finding a reliable quarterback has been challenging for Bell during his tenure. Eight signal callers have thrown passes in his 16-game tenure. Of the six that appeared in last season’s four games, only Dzuro remains on the roster (Wise played last season with his position listed as an “athlete”).

So the spot is available for the taking. Here are the contenders (in alphabetical order, staff photos by Kevin Gutting):

Garrett Dzuro

Vitals: 5-foot-11, 200 pounds from Lakewood, Ohio

History: Appeared in three of the four games in 2020 and started season finale against Liberty. Finished 15-of-36 for 220 yards with two interceptions. Ran 12 times for four years.

Strengths: Three-year member of UMass’ program after redshirting in 2019. Only quarterback on the roster who has started a game. Moved the ball when thrust into fourth quarters.

Needs work: Accuracy both on short, rhythm throws and deep balls. Doesn’t have ideal size.

Outlook: The jack of all trades but master of none. Fairly known commodity. Floor may be higher than some but ceiling is lower.

Tyler Lytle

Vitals: 6-foot-5, 225 pounds from Redondo Beach, Calif. Spent previous three years at Colorado.

History: Took snaps in seven games for the Buffaloes. Completed 4-of-6 passes for 55 yards.

Strengths: Prototypical size. Strong, accurate arm. Good pocket presence and enough of an athlete to keep defenses honest.

Needs work: Health? Availability? Has missed a couple days of practice but other than that looks the part of a college quarterback.

Outlook: The presumptive starter that stood out the most during spring. Has just two years of eligibility left, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense to come all the way across the country to sit on the bench. Gives UMass the best chance to win this year.

Brady Olson

Vitals: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds from Bellingham.

History: Three-star quarterback who began his high school career at Bishop Feehan before transferring to Milford. Also had FBS offers from Georgia Tech, UConn and Colorado State.

Strengths: Cannon of an arm. The ball jumps differently coming from his hand. Strong leader that takes accountability with teammates..

Needs work: Inexperienced. Very much an 18-year-old true freshman. Poor decision making at times can follow big plays.

Outlook: Starter of the future. Getting some snaps in games that are out of hand this season could be valuable down the road. Or a redshirt is possible, but experience seems more important.

Zamar Wise

Vitals: 6-foot-2, 190 pounds from Newark, N.J.

History: Former Rutgers commit reclassified before eventually making his way to UMass. Arrived in Amherst late in the process last year to be a quarterback so played two games at receiver. Caught two passes for 16 yards.

Strengths: One of the most athletic Minutemen regardless of position. Legs are a dangerous weapon and backs it up with a strong arm.

Needs work: Accuracy sometimes falters. On the skinny side, so durability may become a factor if he’s taking hits in the run game.

Outlook: An X-factor that should see the field even if he’s not starting at quarterback. Can be a weapon in the red zone or short yardage, or to change things up.




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