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‘It’s anybody’s race right now’

Helton, Finley and Veltkamp battle for starting quarterback position
Dominic Di Palermo
Quarterback Tucker Parks (11), left, runs the ball during the Red & White Spring Showcase at L.T Smith Stadium in Bowling Green on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

With the Spring Showcase taking place in late April, Hilltopper fans got their first look at WKU’s quarterbacks. 

The quarterback battle between redshirt sophomore Caden Veltkamp, Texas State transfer TJ Finley, and redshirt sophomore Turner Helton has been the buzz of the offseason, with each quarterback getting in good reps during the Spring Showcase. 

When asked about the quarterbacks, head coach Tyson Helton called it a “very strong room,” saying he was “very confident in that room.” 

“Caden had a really good spring.  He’s really took a big step.  TJ comes in and he’s a verteran guy and he’s picked up the offense very well.  And Turner Helton, he’s done a really good job,” Tyson Helton said.

Finley, who played his first full season of college football at Texas State last season, threw for 3,439 yards on 67.4% completion percentage with 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.  

Veltkamp was the successor to Austin Reed, stepping in for him during the Famous Toastery Bowl game. Despite entering the transfer portal before the bowl game, Veltkamp has stayed to compete for the starting job. 

Veltkamp said he has a “great relationship” with Finley.

“Me and TJ go out to eat three times a week,” Veltkamp said.  “The basis of having a good team is having a good quarterback room, and the chemistry and leadership in our room is top notch and it’ll be good for our team in the long run.” 

Turner Helton’s only start of his college career was against Old Dominion in the Famous Toastery Bowl.  After fumbling and throwing a pick-six, he was benched for Veltkamp, who went on to help the Hilltoppers win the game. 

The starting role is “anybody’s race right now,” according to Tyson Helton.

“The competition has just made the room better,” Tyson Helton said.  “We’re going to get through summer and let those guys compete and get through fall camp.  Probably midway to late camp, I’ll decide, but we’re about halfway through that race.” 

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