Vikings move in a Wiser direction
Joe Wiser inherits quarterback mantle from Juston Wood
Back when he was a freshman at Portland State, an assistant coach tagged Joe Wiser with a nickname that stuck: 'Bud.'
Lest he become a walking advertisement for a brewing company, Wiser prefers to be called something else these days: starting quarterback.
The last time Wiser took a meaningful snap from center in a game, he was a Tigard High graduate playing for the North in the Oregon Bowl All-Star Game. For three years, he has been an understudy at Portland State, first as a redshirt with Jimmy Blanchard at the helm, the last two seasons as backup to Juston Wood.
Wiser hasn't had many opportunities to play. His career passing totals: one completion in three attempts for four yards.
Now, with Wood departing after his senior season, the job is Wiser's as the Vikings begin spring practice Wednesday at the Park Blocks.
'It has been a long time coming,' says the 6-3, 210-pound Wiser, who led Tigard to the state quarterfinals and was Pac-8 League Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. 'I have tried to be patient, playing the (understudy) role, and it has paid off. It hasn't been easy. But you learn a lot of things when you are backing up and things aren't just handed to you.'
Wiser is in virtually the same position as Wood when he took over for Blanchard two years ago. Wiser and Wood spent a great deal of time working out together the past two offseasons, and Wood has a good handle on what Wiser can do.
'Joe has put in a lot more time than a lot of other guys, and I have always respected that,' Wood says. 'I know he made me better by working so hard.
'Joe has the potential to lead a good team to the playoffs. The team is going to be improved this year at a lot of positions, and Joe will be capable of helping them get to where they want to be. He is going to end up being a good leader, well-respected by his teammates. He has all the physical attributes, he throws well, he has great athleticism.
'His biggest thing is just going to be getting game experience and seeing how he responds to the pace of the game, how quick decisions need to be made and whether he carries through a game plan.'
Coach Tim Walsh, who will begin a school-record 11th season at PSU next fall, echoes Wood's thoughts about Wiser.
'We have no doubts about Joe physically,' Walsh says. 'His athleticism is way above average. We are excited about his size and ability to throw the ball.
'He will have to prove he has total command of the mental part of it, so he can let his body play the game. That is always a question with anybody as inexperienced as he is. We are hoping the results will be similar to Juston's two years ago. I know Joe will have a good cast around him.'
The overriding message: Wiser won't have to do it all for the Vikings. He must merely do his job and let his teammates do theirs.
Wiser, a junior next season, says his predecessors were good teachers.
'Juston was a little more of the blue-collar guy,' Wiser says, 'a hard worker and great leader. Jimmy was a guy everybody looked up to, the epitome of what a quarterback is supposed to be to his teammates. They are both pretty savvy individuals. I kind of look at myself as a mix between them.'
Barring injury, Wiser will be at quarterback for the Vikings when they open the 2003 season at PGE Park on Sept. 4 against Texas A&MÐKingsville. For a player who has been mostly on the sidelines the past three years, it is a daunting task.
'It is a little scary at times,' Wiser acknowledges. 'Sometimes you worry if you might have lost it. But really, it is always there. You just have to reach up and get it. It is definitely going to be exciting, taking that first snap at PGE Park against a team we have a history with.'
Notes: The Vikings will have 15 practices culminating with the spring game at Tigard High on May 9. É Walsh is excited about his depth at running back with Ryan Fuqua and Joe Rubin and at receiver with Jay Williams, Amad Robinson, DeOnte Taylor and newcomer Ryan Brown. É There will be position changes in the offensive line this spring. Right tackle Mike Stachowiak will move from right tackle to right guard. Left tackle Micah Jackson-Sattler will move from left tackle to left guard. Isaac Aronson, a transfer from Oregon State, will get a long look at left tackle. Jason Hicks and Steve Blatchley will battle for the starting right tackle job, and Devan Kelley is back at center. É Linebackers Nick Chenault (knee) and Gary Torre (pectoral muscle) will sit out spring ball to allow their injuries to heal. Cornerback Dominic Dixon will miss the spring season to concentrate on academics.