NACOGDOCHES — It’s taken time for Colby Carthel to get the dude he wants at quarterback.
The quarterback has got a big arm with nice touch, and he’s got a moxie that comes with the territory of having the football in his hands every offensive snap.
Yeah dude, Trae Self is Stephen F. Austin’s starting quarterback entering the Lumberjacks’ season opener against Big 12 Conference Baylor on Saturday in Waco.
Carthel rated Self as his top recruit in 2017, when Carthel was the head coach at Texas A&M-Commerce and Self was a senior at Richland High School in North Richland Hills.
Self, who had a big season as a senior in high school, decided to pass up the Division II offer and instead signed with Butler Community College in Kansas.
After a redshirt season and then starting at quarterback during an 8-4 campaign at Butler, Self heard from Carthel once again, this time with a scholarship to SFA on the table.
With SFA as pretty much the only offer, Self decided to join Carthel and the Lumberjacks, who look like they will be in a rebuilding season. He could have returned to Butler for another go-round there, but Self couldn’t resist coming to Nacogdoches.
“I love it here,” Self said. “The culture is really changing, and it’s happening quick.”
SFA was 2-8 in 2018 in a train wreck of a season.
Interim coach Jeff Byrd was pressed into the head slot when former coach Clint Conque was suspended by the university. Conque eventually resigned before the season, ending a four-year run where he had one winning campaign.
Carthel, who won a national championship in six seasons in Commerce, still had Self on his wish list when he changed ZIP codes from Commerce to Nacogdoches.
“He’s got some quality tools,” the coach said. “He has a big arm. He can make plays with his legs, and he’s a natural leader.
“He’s fun to be around.”
Maybe the quarterback position will finally be settled for the Lumberjacks. Foster Sawyer started the opener in 2018, only to be replaced by Jake Blumrick, who battled through bumps and bruises before finishing the season.
Blumrick was the starter through spring drills, only to give up football following two back surgeries.
“It was a quality of life thing, not a football thing,” Carthel said of Blumrick.
SFA quarterbacks were in tough situations throughout the Conque era.
The offense couldn’t run the football against the quality teams on the schedule. The offensive line wasn’t good enough to provide the quarterbacks time to throw.
But with SFA now in a rebuild, new faces are everywhere.
Self (6-3, 190) is among the group.
He threw 41 touchdown passes and for more than 4,300 yards as a high school senior.
He threw for 1,774 yards and 15 touchdowns during his one season as starter at Butler.
Carthel said Self has an added dimension that he’s not used to having as head coach — a quarterback who is elusive.
“In high school, I was slow as molasses,” Self said. “At Butler, I went through a lot of agility drills. I started getting faster.”
His first start at SFA is a major challenge — against Baylor on the road.
Baylor anticipates having a big year and will be heavily favored against the Lumberjacks.
“It’s a football game,” Self said. “You can’t think of it too high. It’s dudes playing football, just like we are.”
SFA has a dude at quarterback, one with a big arm, good touch and quick feet.
Throw confidence in the mix, too.
“I’m very humble,” he said. “I just like to believe in myself. When I get out there, I’m a totally different person than off the field.
“I like to say that nobody can stop me. Only myself.”
NOTES: SFA and Baylor have met four times, all shutout wins by the Bears in Waco — 1928: 31-0; 1929: 88-0; 1947: 34-0; and 2011: 48-0.