Charleston, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - A quarterback competition usually draws the focus of any football team.
As Eastern Illinois University gets set to open spring practice under new head coach Kim Dameron on Tuesday, the race to be the No. 1 signal caller will have extra attention.
The Panthers' new quarterback in 2014 will replace 2013 Walter Payton Award winner Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo set numerous EIU and Ohio Valley Conference records, including throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns last season. He is expected to be a second-round pick in the NFL Draft in May.
The quarterback competition is expected to be waged by Garoppolo's backups last season, fifth-year senior Andrew Manley and junior Ben Krol, and redshirt freshman Austin Green.
Dameron, the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech last year, has taken over an EIU team that is coming off a 12-2 record and a No. 4 final ranking in The Sports Network FCS Top 25. The Panthers advanced to the FCS playoff quarterfinals.
The two-time defending OVC champions will open the 2014 season by visiting the University of Minnesota on Aug. 28.