Plant quarterback Phillip Ely didn’t participate in the Panthers’ final full practice of the week Wednesday night, but coach Robert Weiner still lists Ely as day-to-day with a lower leg strain.
Must like last year, when Ely was recovering from a back injury, he was in the huddle during practice as senior backup Nick Sanders took the majority of the snaps.
“The honest truth is that what he’s got now is much more minor than what he had last year,” Weiner said. “It is truly a day to day thing. To be honest, he could go and play right now but the only reason. I’m keeping him out of practice is because I don’t want to go for 15 straight weeks chasing our tail doing and wondering if he’s going to be ready Friday night. I want to be able to get this injury out of the way and move on and play from a fresh Ely.”
If Ely doesn’t play, Weiner is counting on the fact that when the Panthers face Hillsborough on Friday fans really won’t be able to tell the difference between Plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks.
And at least one college recruiter was already fooled. Weiner said that one Division I school that offered Ely, an Alabama commit, confused Sanders for Ely during warm-ups of a spring practice.
“Phillip wasn’t out there,” Weiner said. “I think he was taking a makeup exam.”
Ely’s obviously had success, entering the season 19-0 as a starter, but Weiner is happy with his depth at the position with Sanders, junior Trey Holtz (USF head coach Skip Holtz’s son) and senior James Few. He’s so happy with it that he’s been able to move James Few, a backup quarterback last season, to be a fulltime safety. Few is currently recovering from a hamstring injury.
“People would die to have the luxury I have with Nick and Trey Holtz and Few waiting in the wings,” Weiner said. “All three of those guys could start at 90 percent of the schools in the state of Florida.”
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org)