Sept. 1, 2000
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – Texas A&M’s Mark Farris and Notre Dame’s Arnaz Battle have little in common.
One similarity between the quarterbacks is that both will make their starting debut on Saturday when the 25th-ranked Aggies play the Irish.
Farris is a 25-year-old sophomore, a husband and father of a 4-year-old girl. He graduated from high school in 1994 and signed a letter of intent to play for the Aggies. But he passed on the football scholarship in favor of an $820,000 signing bonus when he was drafted 11th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Battle, 20, is a junior whose parents and grandparents are in town for Saturday’s game. He was in middle school when Farris started his last game in high school.
The biggest signing of Battle’s life was the letter of intent that brought him to Notre Dame.
Farris, with the advantage of maturity, has five years of minor-league baseball experience, but only one year as a college backup. Battle has two years of experience playing behind Jarious Jackson.
Notre Dame coach Bob Davie said Farris’ age does not constitute an advantage.
“It’s more how many times you’ve been in that stadium under that center when it’s a live game,” Davie said.
By that standard, Battle has a slight advantage.
As a freshman two years ago with Jarious Jackson injured, Battle played the final three quarters against Southern Cal, completing 7-of-19 for 94 yards with two interceptions in a 10-0 loss. In two seasons at Notre Dame, Battle is 15-of-35 passing for 218 yards with two interceptions and has run for 153 yards on 32 carries.
Farris is 6-of-16 passing for 53 yards in five games last season, rushing for 1 yard on two carries.
Neither quarterback lacks confidence.
Battle was asked to compare his style with another quarterback, past or present at the team’s media day. Without hesitating, he answered Michael Vick.
Asked about the bold comparison, he said: “Well I wouldn’t go out and say I’m like Drew Brees because he’s a drop-back quarterback.”
Davie said Battle’s playing style is similar to Vick’s.
“And we’re probably going to do some of the things Virginia Tech tries to do with Michael Vick. But I’d say it’s a little stretch right now. You’ve got one guy who led his team to the national championship game last year,” he said. “I hope we’re comparing (Battle) to him at the end of the season.”
The more likely comparison for Farris would be Florida State’s Chris Weinke, the 28-year-old quarterback and former minor-league baseball player who led the Seminoles to a victory over Vick’s Hokies in the national championship game last year. Like Weinke, Farris knows the pressures of playing for a paycheck.
He also faced the pressure of having to win the Aggies’ starting job. Much has been made of the fact that his maturity may have been a deciding factor, but Farris doesn’t believe so.
“You don’t just pick the oldest guy and make him the quarterback. … I’d prefer to think they thought I was good enough a player to win the game rather than being the oldest,” Farris said.
Both coaches say they are eager to see how their quarterbacks perform. So are the Irish and Aggies fans.