There were concerns about Stevie Weatherford's replacement at Land O'Lakes. Who would take over once the USF commitment graduates?
In the past week, the answer has become incoming junior Ryan Bird.
The first-year Land O'Lakes quarterback has played in place of Weatherford, who has been sidelined with a right (throwing) hand injury. Land O'Lakes coach Matt Kitchie said Weatherford will be "fine" when fall practice begins Aug. 9, and he could have played this weekend.
Instead, Bird worked with the first team, earning rave reviews at Pasco County's 7-on-7 league and more recently USF's Sling 'n Shoot.
Bird came to Land O'Lakes after his father, Steven Bird, was hired as a graduate assistant at USF under first-year coach Skip Holtz. He initially enrolled at Hillsborough where he was No. 1 on the Terriers' depth chart entering spring practice before suffering a collarbone injury.
Bird and Kitchie worked together in 2005 on Eastern Kentucky's staff.
"The dad has prepared him to play," Kitchie said. "He came in and played out of his mind. He's only been with us only a short time to pick up the offense. He made some great plays, but he made some mistakes. In some aspects, the other kids in the team lifted him up and got behind him. He's not a talker or boaster. He came in and did what he was supposed to do."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is described as a prototypical pocket passer and throws with his left hand.
"If I'm trying to demonstrate techniques with him I struggle because I'm a righty," Kitchie said. "It makes me have to think about how I'm coaching him."
Bird gives Land O'Lakes a bona fide backup quarterback, and a starter to replace Weatherford next season. In terms of competing this year, there is no open competition.
Weatherford is the starter and Bird is the backup, Kitchie said. That has helped calm any potential internal battle.
"He and Steven have become friends," Kitchie said. "They're not trying to beat each other out. Steven was his biggest fan this weekend."