One topic always seemed to come up as Conor Blount was getting to know his new teammates after arriving at EKU earlier this year.

Almost everyone wanted to know what it was like to play against Ohio State in front of crowd of more than 102,000 people at Ohio Stadium.

"I've been asked about that a lot," Blount said with a laugh.

In the 2018 season opener, Blount completed 12-of-19 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns -- with no interceptions -- as Oregon State fell to the Buckeyes, 77-31.

"It was a great experience not just to get to play, but to be able to go out and do some things, move the ball against those guys," Blount said. "That's football at its best right there."

A year later, Blount is preparing for a new experience.

The EKU coaching staff announced on Monday that the Oregon State transfer would be the starting quarterback when the team opens the season Thursday at Roy Kidd Stadium against Valparaiso.

The redshirt junior beat out a trio of QBs who played significant minutes for the Colonels last season -- Parker McKinney, Austin Scott and Dakota Allen.

"It was a very tight race," EKU coach Mark Elder said of the quarterback competition. "We've got four guys on our roster who have started Division I games. So, there was a battle throughout camp. Conor was the most consistent guy."

Blount transferred to EKU in January and went through spring practice under new offensive coordinator Adam Austin. He was 6-for-6 for 45 yards and a touchdown during the team's annual Maroon-White Scrimmage in April.

The competition, however, continued through spring into training camp.

"Every day they knew they had to be sharp because of the number of guys competing for the position," Elder said of the QB battle.

That competition certainly made all four quarterbacks better.

"All those guys have graded out better than they did at any point last year," Elder said.

Blount started the team's final scrimmage of the training camp and played just two series, leading EKU to one score

The 6-foot-1, 190 pound native of Waukesha, Wisc., was confident he could win the job, but was relieved when he was told he would be the starter.

"It feels good. Coming in here, obviously, that was my goal," Blount said. "I'm excited to get to work with these guys."

Blount earned all-state honors at Waukesha High School. He was a three-year starter and threw for 1,577 yards and 20 touchdowns, with just one interception during his senior season.

He signed with Oregon State and just a few months later was playing college football in big stadiums in front of big crowds.

Blount took over as the back-up quarterback in the second game of the season and completed 11-of-18 passes against Boise State.

He also saw action in matchups with Colorado, California and Utah.

"You realize just how little you know about the game," Blount said of playing as a true freshman in the PAC 12. "You realize there's so much more that you can learn. It's just about going out there on a Saturday, there's so much more you have to put in. You have to be more than talented. You have to know your assignments and know what you are doing to be successful."

The Wisconsin native was redshirted in 2017, but did earn a scholarship.

A year later, he started six of Oregon State's first seven games -- including the match-up with Ohio State.

Blount completed 62 percent of his passes (95-of-153) for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns with only two interceptions.

He started games against Southern Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State and California.

Blount had two touchdowns against Arizona.

The quarterback got less playing time near the end of the season and decided to transfer.

"There were some things that were kind of up in the air that I didn't feel comfortable with," Blount said. "After talking to my family, I thought it was best to come back a little bit closer to home and take another step."

After announcing his decision to transfer, Blount was contacted by Elder.

And the coach was eager to offer a scholarship to a quarterback with big-time experience at the highest levels of college football.

"He's a veteran guy," Elder said. "He's played in the Horseshoe (Ohio Stadium). So, if you've played in that environment, I don't think there's any environment that you can go to that is going to be more intimidating than that."

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