Moses Skillon knows all about job security in football.
Even though he's atop Morgan State's depth chart at quarterback heading into this season, it hasn't always been that way. Skillon served as the backup to Robert Council to start last season, but eventually took over as starter and went 3-2, including the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship-clinching win over Delaware State.
Skillon said he knows he can't relax and become content.
"I feel like I'm the starter, but it's not going to my head," the senior said last week after practice at Hughes Stadium. "It just makes me work even more, work on the little things to try to get better overall as a quarterback for this team."
Still, it appears Skillon will open the season at Air Force on Saturday under center. Skillon's repetitions in preseason camp have been primarily with the first-team offense, while redshirt senior Seth Higgins (Edgewood) — Skillon's closest competitor — has worked with the first and second units.
Higgins is not completely healthy after sitting out last year because of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Bears coach Lee Hull predicted that Higgins' right shoulder will be 100 percent soon, and when it is, Higgins will be expected to prepare as if he is the starter.
"You would always like to have one guy step up and be the guy for the whole year, but as you know, you always need two quarterbacks," Hull said. "So I'm always keeping my options right now. But I would say Moses is the starter right now, and Seth is doing a great job, and we need him to come along because you're going to need two quarterbacks."
Higgins is no rookie when it comes to Division I football, having started in five of Morgan State's first seven games in 2013 before suffering the shoulder injury in a 34-22 victory at North Carolina Central. Sitting out last season meant Higgins had ground to make up, but he insisted that he's not worried about overtaking Skillon as the starter.
"I don't look at anyone in particular," Higgins said. "I don't look at Moses. I think he's got some great talents and he's gifted, but I think the same way about myself. I just throw when I can and work as hard as I can, and when the opportunity presents itself, I just know that I'll be ready."
The two quarterbacks have different strengths, according to offensive coordinator Fred Farrier. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Skillon, blessed with a strong arm, is the more traditional pocket passer. The 6-4, 230-pound Higgins is a more adept scrambler.
"The big thing is, for us, we look for a guy who can run our offense and be effective and efficient," Farrier said. "I think in certain parts of what we do offensively, Seth may be better at some things and Moses may be better at some things. It's really a great problem for me to have because we have two guys who have both played here, who have both won games for us, and they're still here and able to play in football games. To have both of those guys is really an added plus."
Skillon, who replaced Council after he aggravated a groin injury at North Carolina A&T on Nov. 8, led the offense in almost every passing category, including completions (115), attempts (204), yards (1,392) and touchdowns (11). He also rushed for 260 yards and six touchdowns on 64 carries.
Skillon said he feels more in command of the offense this season.
"Just being a little more comfortable," he said. "This is my second year in the offense. So I feel a little more comfortable and just relaxed. Just going through my progressions and taking what the defense gives me."
Hull said Skillon is doing a better job of anticipating his receivers' routes instead of waiting for them to get open. But Hull said Skillon must improve his reads and refrain from predetermining his targets.
Skillon, who also threw a team-high eight interceptions, said his biggest priority is recognizing defensive schemes.
"I love to throw the ball and stuff, but I can't just throw it up," he said. "I know at certain times, I have to give the receiver a shot, but when there's nothing there, I just want to check down and find the back."
Farrier said he is looking for consistency from Skillon.
"At times, he does some really good things, and there are other times when some things we think he should be able to do very easily, he may not do them as well as we expect him to do them," Farrier said. "He's shown some flashes of being really good, but there's still some things we need to clean up with him and Seth and all of our guys."
Skillon and Higgins are supportive of each other on and off the field, and Higgins said he hopes there will be no rotation at quarterback. He's not discouraged by his role as Skillon's backup, either.
"It just shows me that I need to work harder," Higgins said. "It means I'm not good enough yet, it means I'm not healthy enough yet or whatever they may think. I'm just going to keep on working."