Grant Gunnell knew he wasn’t a starter

Memphis Football was quiet about the transfer of quarterback Grant Gunnell to North Texas. On Friday, Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan offered an insight into Gunnell’s exit.

Henigan, who started as a true freshman in all but one game last season, took to Sports56 on Tomorrow’s With Greg & Eli and was asked if Gunnell’s decision came as a surprise. Henigan said the two always chatted about how they rated during spring training.

“We’re constantly communicating about what each other of us would do and we could see it. I got basically all the reps with the ones (first team) all spring,” Henigan said. “(Grant) has made some great games in the various spring games we’ve had. He had a great spring game. But I think he just felt like he knew I’d be the guy, so he said, alright, I’ll try to start somewhere.”

Henigan, who praised Gunnell as a close friend and mentor, added he believes Gunnell’s experience with two seasons in Arizona meant he wanted a chance before moving to Memphis in December 2020.

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Henigan also understood Gunnell’s decision because if he had lost the job he would have chosen to switch.

“For Grant and I, we both played college football, we were the guy before, we started playing college football before,” Henigan said. “That movie, coaches love that movie and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s played before, so he can play here,’ and then they come after you. It’s the nature of everything now, especially on teams with money and stuff like that. It’s just a whole new era of college football with NIL (name, picture and likeness).”

Henigan was a Freshman All-American last season after Gunnell sustained a leg injury during preseason practice late in the season. With Gunnell healthy, coach Ryan Silverfield reopened competition for the quarterback job this spring, with Henigan as a starter.

Memphis Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan throws the ball during the Friday Night Stripes spring football game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Friday, April 22, 2022.

Henigan started the Tigers’ open scrimmage in Nashville and the spring game. Both quarterbacks led six drives during the scrimmage, and Henigan led six drives to Gunnell’s four in the spring game. Gunnell looked sharper in the first scrimmage, leading three scoring drives and putting on another strong performance in the spring game, leading two scoring drives while showing his accuracy.

Gunnell and North Texas meet Memphis on September 24 at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

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