SDSU junior quarterback Thomas O’Brien has quit the football team, head coach John Stiegelmeier said.
Stiegelmeier said O’Brien notified the coaches Monday.
“It was his own decision,” Stiegelmeier said. “I’m just really, really disappointed because he put a lot of time into it and he worked tremendously hard. I’m disappointed for our football team because to have a quarterback with a his amount of experience (is hard to lose). But we preach ‘play in the present,’ and we’ll go into battle with the guys we have.”
Running back Tyrel Kool said some teammates had heard O’Brien was thinking about quitting after SDSU’s 48-14 loss to Cal Poly Saturday.
“For those who are closer to him like me it wasn’t quite as much of a shock, but for others it was definitely unexpected because they had no idea it was even a possibility that this would be something he decided to do,” Kool said.
Senior running back Dominique Clare said the team had a meeting today.
“I had class during the meeting, but I asked people who were [there] if it was true, and they told me about it,” Clare said. “I was surprised he quit.”
A Winona, Minn. native, O’Brien has started at quarterback in each of the last three years, going 10-10 as a starter. He was 67 for 103 for 692 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions in the first three games of this season.
Stiegelmeier said no replacement decision has been made yet. Either junior Jordan Thomas or redshirt freshman Austin Sumner will start against Illinois State on Saturday. The head coach said the decision will be made “very soon.”
“It’s easy to be the [number-two quarterback], but when you’re the number-one guy and you’re making the reads and the passes, guys are looking to you in the huddle to make plays,” Stiegelmeier said.
Clare said O’Brien has taken a lot of heat for the Jackrabbits’ struggles earlier in the season.
“I think there’s a lot of unnecessary blame and pressure put on him … and a lot of times it’s not necessarily his fault,” he said. “But to the fans it looks that way. A lot of it is people not understanding the whole play, and there’s a lot more to it than what you see. The stress can build up on a person.”
Senior wide receiver Dale Moss tweeted about the situation Monday night:
Clare said he’s standing behind O’Brien.
“Thomas is a good friend of mine, and so I can see his standpoint and where he’s coming from,” Clare said. “Football is a serious game, but life is serious, too, and sometime’s there are things in life you have to go after and have to realize where your life is headed … Thomas feels like football may not be the best thing in his life right now, and I have to respect that.”
“If you’re not there for something, don’t do it just to do it. I don’t look at him like a quitter at all.”
Kool said the team is looking forward to the game against the Redbirds on Saturday.
“We’re confident for this weekend,” Kool said. “It’s too early in the week to tell who will be playing in place of [O’Brien], but no matter who’s throwing, we’ll back him – whether its Sumner or [Jordan] Thomas. It’s a great opportunity for those two to battle it out this week to see how gets to start. We’re confident either way.”
News Editor Hannah Baker contributed to this report.