Troy Trojans take the stage at Sun Belt Media Days | Troy

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JOHN JOHNSON

When asked what was the most interesting question he asked during the Sun Belt Conference media days in New Orleans on Wednesday morning, Troy’s football coach Jon Sumrall replied: ” Not interesting, but just funny that they thought I would actually answer it.”

So what was he asked about?

“Who is going to be the starting quarterback? Sumrall said with a chuckle during a phone interview with the Dothan Eagle. “We have some training coming up in the next few weeks that will determine that.”

No doubt all eyes will be on the Trojans quarterback battle with the arrival of Utah transfer Peter Costelli this summer to join returning junior quarterback Gunnar Watson, the freshmen in shirt red Quayde Hawkins and Will Carn as well as real freshman Tucker Kilcrease.

Costelli, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound, is a former four-star freshman from Mission Viejo High School in Redondo Beach, Calif. He didn’t play as a true freshman at Utah.

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“One thing that gets lost about Peter is that he’s a young player from an eligibility standpoint,” Sumrall said. “He still has four years to play four years. You can tell he’s been in a major college program his entire time in Utah by the way he handles some of the tweaks and checks that come with our offensive system.

“He picked things up fairly quickly and works fairly quickly from a terminology and communication perspective at a high level. That’s probably no big surprise coming from a place like Utah where they’ve done a lot of good things on offense, and so he’s been trained.

Sumrall said Costelli’s speed was a pleasant surprise.

“We knew he could run, but he was one of our fastest guys in some of our practices,” Sumrall said. “He’s doing good things turning the football around and throwing it around and making sure he continues to grow in understanding the passing game and where to go with the football.”

Costelli isn’t the only one hit by Sumrall this offseason.

Receiver Mark Ferrell, 6-foot-4, is a junior varsity transfer from Ventura, Calif. College who caught 14 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore after catching 32 passes for 510 yards as a freshman.

“Mark has really good length, great ball skills and strong hands,” Sumrall said. “He’s a smoother runner and mover for a long guy. He continues to work on getting stronger in the weight room. You can tell this is an area where he still needs growth.

Also on board is Eric Shaw, a 6-foot-5, 212-pound University of South Carolina transfer receiver and former Reeltown star who can also play defensive end at linebacker.

“Kind of a jumbo athlete who can play on offense or defense,” Sumrall said. “He is currently working on the attack for us, but he has the ability to play on either side of the ball.”

The Trojans also landed long snapper Quentin Skinner, who served in the role for the past two years at LSU.

There’s also some extra beef on the offensive front in four new offensive linemen from the JUCO ranks – Jonas Woods (Palomar College), Kobe Williams (NE Oklahoma A&M), Sydney Solomon (Cerritos College) and Tyler Harvey-Fallows (Laney Middle School) .

Troy lost the services of punter Luke Magliozzi, who graduated and decided not to continue his football eligibility. Mike Rivers and Nick Woolfolk are expected to battle for the starting pitcher position.

The Trojans will report to camp on August 2 and the first training session will take place the following morning.

Leadership roles: Senior linebacker Carlton Martial and senior offensive tackle Austin Stidham were the two players who represented the Trojans at Media Days.

Both are ready to take on leadership roles on their respective sides of football this season.

“It was a challenge that Coach Sumrall presented to me and my linebacker coach Tayler Polk,” Martial said. “They introduced me as that voice the team needs.

“I feel like I kind of let the team down for the past few years without being that. I feel like I have to keep taking steps to become a better leader. I feel like I’ve come a long way in this category, but I still have work to do.

Stidham takes over as a vocal leader on an offensive front that graduate center Dylan Bradshaw has held in recent years.

“I’ve always been a growing guy and I liked sitting in the pack and doing my job and keeping my mouth shut, to be blunt about it,” Stidham said. “I kind of grew in that leadership role and I think the guys just listen to me based on my experience and my time in Troy.

“It’s something I’ve become more comfortable with. I think guys like me and Carlton and a bunch of different guys are starting to steer this team in one direction to get us back to where we need to be.

Both players were recently added to national pre-season watchlists – Martial on the Butkus Prize watchlist and Stidham on the Outland Trophy watchlist.

“It’s one of the greatest honors you can get as a lineman,” Stidham said. “It really shocked me when I saw that. I was absolutely shocked. If anything, it’s just going to motivate me more to succeed this year.

Martial is also honored to be named one of the nation’s top linebackers.

“It means a lot to me,” Martial said. “It’s a huge honor for me to be nominated for this award.”

The two teammates respect each other.

“He’s probably one of the most competitive and hardworking individuals I’ve ever been around,” Stidham said of Martial. “Going against someone like that on a daily basis really makes you better as a lineman and honestly as an offense as a whole.

“If he’s not in the game, he takes mental reps. He always finds a way to improve, and that’s something the younger guys have to look up to and look up to.”

Martial looks forward to his battles with Stidham when training resumes.

“He’s the only offensive tackle I haven’t beat on a pass since I’ve been at Troy,” Martial said. “He always has me, but this fall we’re going to do it again.”

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