Starting quarterback job is No. 1 goal, but baseball's a possibility
by: JEFF GROSS, UO’s Cody Kempt wants to be the starting QB this season. The Westview grad may also head to the diamond to join Oregon’s baseball team.

Cody Kempt wants to make one thing clear: He wants to be the starting quarterback at Oregon above anything else, or at least be in the mix to play during the 2008 season.

Anything else partly means playing baseball in 2009 as part of UO's first team since 1981.

Kempt probably will try to pursue playing both sports. A first baseman, outfielder and pitcher for Westview High, he probably could have played in college. He says the Tampa Devil Rays put him through a workout and wanted to draft him in the 27th round in 2006, but Kempt had signed to play college football.

'It's 50-50 right now, a definite possibility,' he says, of playing both sports at UO. 'It's not right to talk about it now.'

But Kempt uses Dennis Dixon as an example of somebody who pulled off two sports. Dixon played in Atlanta's organization last summer, then returned and had a fantastic senior season at quarterback. Athletes at many colleges have played football and baseball because they only conflict during spring football drills.

'If God blesses you with talent at both sports, you should think about doing both of them,' Kempt says.

He has been hitting in baseball and says the UO coaches have talked with him about playing outfield. He's a left-hander with a good fastball. 'If they needed me to pitch, I could, but I wouldn't want to put too much stress on my arm,' he says.

But, he insists, 'I just want the starting (QB) spot.'

Getting it won't be easy for the 6-3, 210-pound Kempt, who is behind Nate Costa and Justin Roper on the depth chart and ahead of scholarship freshmen Darron Thomas and Chris Harper and walk-on Cade Cooper.

The athletic Kempt still battles accuracy problems. 'I'm just trying to be efficient, take command and make good plays,' he says, 'and show the coaches why they should give me a chance. I can control my own destiny. I'm trying to be exceptional -so the coaches say, 'Wow, Cody has got a lot better.' '

If he doesn't start or play much this season, 'it won't make or break my career, but it'll give somebody else the upper hand for the next two seasons.'

Kempt still believes he will remain at quarterback, especially because of the injury factor. Sure, the Ducks have six quarterbacks, but injuries happen, and will Thomas and/or Harper be ready to help this season or wind up as redshirts?

Kempt doesn't see himself switching positions.

'I've shown people that I'm capable of playing at this level and of being a starter in the Pac-10,' Kempt says.

Switching positions 'would be the last thing I'd want to do.'

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