Former University of Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith was named the starter for San Diego State.
Smith, a 6-foot-5 senior who is a graduate transfer, finished ahead of redshirt freshman Christian Chapman on the team's depth chart. The Aztecs' season opener is Saturday against San Diego.
"I think it was a good thing he was here during spring ball because he has a good feel for our offense," Coach Rocky Long said. "He has continued to get better and throws the ball accurately with a fairly strong arm. This is my personal opinion and I don't know if it's true, but I think him just being older and having already played at the college level some gives him a little bit of maturity advantage."
Smith's prior experience at UK is a big plus, Long said.
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"I saw a very young quarterback that had a lot of physical ability but did not make a lot of big time mistakes," Long said. "He might have thrown it to the wrong guy or read the coverage the wrong way, but he threw very few interceptions. ... Even though you could tell he was young and making some mistakes and wasn't real confident, you could see the talent level. It's a good sign he's not a turnover machine when you're a young guy."
Smith played in 21 games at Kentucky, including 11 starts. He completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,070 yards during his career with the Cats. That included 21 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
Pearce Slater, a senior offensive lineman, said Smith's experience showed on the practice field.
"Definitely, I've said that before," Slater said. "I definitely think his experience playing at University of Kentucky has transferred over and you can tell in the huddle, when he's calling plays and when he's trying to take control as a quarterback should."
Junior tight end Daniel Brunskill counts Smith as a close friend.
"I would characterize him as smart and competitive," Brunskill said. "He's just a great guy. He goes out there to win and he's a fun guy to be around.
"I'm excited," Brunskill added. "I think he'll do well and I'm glad it was a close race between all the quarterbacks. To me it doesn't really matter who's throwing the ball, just as long as one of them gets the ball to you."