BOCA RATON – FAU’s quarterback battle grew even more intriguing on Tuesday with the addition of graduate transfer Rafe Peavey from Southern Methodist.
Peavy joined the Owls on the practice field after practice began, receiving clearance from compliance after the remainder of the team had completed stretching.
The 6-1, 200-pound Peavey played in three games last season for SMU, completing all four of his pass attempts. Peavey began his career at Arkansas, spending two seasons before transferring.
“Guys didn’t even know who he was out at practice,” Lane Kiffin said. “I introduced him after practice.”
Peavey hit the practice field wearing No. 16, the same number quarterback Jason Driskel wore last season.
Kiffin described Peavey as having a skill set similar to that of Driskel. Some players, in fact, thought Peavey was Driskel returning for his final year of eligibility.
“I did for a second when I saw the 16,” FAU running back Devin Singletary said. “I had to take a quick look, I had to take a second look, and realize who it was.”
Driskel led FAU to 10 consecutive wins to end last season, but announced prior to spring practice that he would forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the workforce. His decision left the Owls with redshirt junior De’Andre Johnson and redshirt freshman Chris Robison battling for the starting spot. Neither has started an FBS game and Johnson, who began his career at Florida St., is the only one with game experience – entering for a handful of plays in last year’s season opener.
“This is not any reflection upon the other two guys play,” Kiffin said of adding Peavey to the QB battle. “Like I told them last night, they could have completed every pass the first couple of days and this still would have happened. It’s been a long time that we’ve been in the process of doing this. It just took some time to get it done.”
Kiffin noted that Peavey displayed enough talent in high school to interest top programs and considers him a smart enough football player to quickly learn the scheme. He did not promise Peavey a starting spot.
Having already missed four days of camp, Peavey will be learning the offense at a different, more simplified, pace than Johnson and Robison.
“We’ve had to have separate meetings with him where we started with Day 1,” Kiffin said. “His script is a little bit different because he just got here. You can’t expect him to know everything in just a few hours.”
Kiffin isn’t certain how long it will take Peavey to learn the scheme and catch up with Johnson and Robison.
“He does have an advantage of having played, being older, being in multiple systems,” Kiffin said. “His offensive coordinator at Arkansas at one point was Jim Chaney who came from our system at Tennessee, and when you watch SMU there is a lot of carry over in the system. Who knows?”
Peavey took snaps with the first, second and third team offenses on Thursday, and even with limited exposure to FAU’s scheme, Peavey still impressed in his first practice.
“He was making plays,” Singletary said. “First day out there to make plays, that was pretty tough.”
Peavey is the second quarterback to transfer to FAU this summer. Nick Tronti, a former Florida Mr. Football joined the Owls after leaving Indiana. While Peavey is eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer, Tronti will have to sit out a season in compliance with NCAA undergraduate transfer rules.
Five days into camp, Kiffin said the Owls are no closer to determining who will start on Sept. 1 at Oklahoma.
“I think we’re so early with install and things going around that we’re probably not trying to figure it out today,” Kiffin said.
FAU now has on its roster quarterbacks who began their careers in the ACC (Johnson), SEC (Peavey), Big 10 (Tronti) and Big 12 (Robison at Oklahoma).