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College Football / Richard Hoffer : Sometimes, Even Quarterbacks Get Passed By

September 27, 1986|RICHARD HOFFER

Quarterbacks are the high-profile guys in college football, especially this season. But here are three throwers you may never see. Each is as interesting, if not as accurate, as Vinny Testaverde. We'll take interesting guys anytime.

GEOFF TORETTA: He is Testaverde's backup, which is not unlike being Barbra Streisand's understudy. Actually, Toretta, who played at Salesian High in Los Angeles before enrolling at California, transferring to Diablo Valley Community College and finally to Miami, wasn't even recruited as a backup. He was supposed to run the practice team.

"But instead, we found a guy who can win football games for us," Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson said.

Unfortunately, he'll probably never have a chance to do that. He mops up behind Testaverde and threw just 16 passes all last season.

He'll be lucky to throw as many this season, and there won't be another for him, at least in college. He's a senior, clouded forever by the celebrity of Testaverde. From all accounts, he is the best college quarterback you'll never see.

But neither you nor Toretta need despair. Gil Brandt, director of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, gives him all kinds of chances to make it in the NFL. "He's big (6-2 and 205), fast, strong arm," Brandt mused. "Very much worth looking into.

"Let me tell you a story. In 1968 we drafted Notre Dame's third-string quarterback, Bob Belden. I don't think he'd even taken a snap his entire career. He made our team and played pretty good for two years."

Toretta has an even better chance than Belden to make it, coming as he does from a pro-type offense. Miami's splendid quarterbacks--from Jim Kelly to Bernie Kosar to Testaverde--all have had the benefit of running what amounts to 75% of the Miami Dolphins' offense. It's an easy transition.

Meaning, someone is sure to take some kind of shot at a quarterback who never got to play the game.

KENNY LAMBIOTTE: In his first two games at William & Mary, Lambiotte has completed 47 of 73 passes for 582 yards and 5 touchdowns. This is some achievement, since he was the No. 3 quarterback last year. It's even more of an achievement considering that he went to college not to feed the ball to wide receivers at William & Mary, but to basketball star Ralph Sampson at Virginia.

Lambiotte averaged nearly three points a game during Sampson's final season at Virginia and was averaging four midway into the next season when he abruptly transferred. Last season, his first of eligibility, he walked on in basketball and averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds. He appeared in just one game as a quarterback. This year, his senior season, he blossomed in football.

No word on whether he can play baseball.

TODD PAYTON: He's the Southern Conference's most efficient passer, seldom throws interceptions and almost always wins. In his 14 starts at Appalachian State, the Mountaineers have won 10 games and are ranked 10th in Division I-AA.

In addition, officials at Appalachian State believe he is the only player to have been born in Saigon.

Payton is the son of a chief petty officer in the Navy, now living in the Tidewater area of Virginia. But he, his sister and Vietnamese mother weren't able to join his father in the United States until Todd was 8. Since then, he has been Americanized and speaks, we are told, with a Tidewater accent.

He also is a whiz-bang soccer player.

School officials are promoting him as the only American-Asian starting quarterback in Division I-AA. "Until we hear different," said a spokesman.

Among the Mountaineers, though, even that is not much of a distinction. "We're also dealing with a left-footed Swedish kicker who picked his English up in the South," the spokesman said.

But that's another story.

Finally: Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer, who had taken some administrative heat in 1983 over the team's low graduation rate, on the possible early graduation of All-American linebacker Brian Bosworth: "I wonder if they'll think I overdid it."

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