Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe says he expects Gamecock quarterback Coty Blanchard to join early this week and be back on the field by Friday.
Blanchard, a two-sport athlete for the Gamecocks, has spent the summer playing baseball in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League for the Falmouth Commodores, but his team was eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday and he began the return trip back to Alabama on Sunday.
Crowe said that once Blanchard gets back on campus, he will have four orientation practices in helmets and shells before he will be fully cleared and Crowe hopes to have him in full practice mode by Friday.
"Coty is our returning starting quarterback on a championship football team," said Crowe. "Coty's unique skill is his experience and that makes him a threat and we expect to define a role for him for the first game. His role will be uncertain to our opponents early in the season, but having his leadership and play-making ability back will certainly help this football team."
Blanchard played in all 11 games as a sophomore, serving as the starting quarterback in nine of them after Marques Ivory went down in the opener with an injury. The signal-caller led the OVC with a 145.1 passing efficiency after completing 135 of his 211 passes for 1,703 yards, 12 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
The former Alabama Mr. Football averaged 154.8 passing yards per game and his 193.6 yards of total offense per game both ranked seventh in the Ohio Valley Conference last year. He also was the third-leading rusher on the team, running for 427 yards and six touchdowns.
Blanchard said that he would spend Monday going through the process of getting ready to rejoin the team and hopes to be able to begin his orientation practices as soon as possible so that he will be fully cleared to practice by the end of the week.
"I'm really excited to get back and get right to work," Blanchard said as he was making the 13-hour drive back from the Cape on Sunday. "I'm anxious to meet all the new guys. I've really missed working out with the guys this summer, but I'm ready to get into football mode."
Playing for Falmouth in the Cape this summer, Blanchard played in 38 games, batting .257 with six doubles and 15 RBI. He led the team with 19 walks and was third on the team with eight stolen bases after helping the Commodores post a 21-23 record and finish third in the Western Division to advance to the playoffs.
"I've talked with Coach Crowe and he has plan for me and won't throw me right into the fire," Blanchard added. "It's going to be a slow process, but I'm just ready to get out on the field."
Jacksonville State will practice once on Monday, before holding the first two-a-day practice on Tuesday as the Gamecocks will work in the morning and evening.