From Boulder to El Dorado to Cedar City, sophomore quarterback Chris Helbig is living his dream: he’s a Division I quarterback.
Out of high school, Helbig committed to Colorado University with the hope of fulfilling his dream. He arrived in Boulder excited to get to work and compete for playing time. Unfortunately, the coaching staff at Colorado had different plans, never allowing Helbig to play a snap at quarterback and moving him to safety.
But Helbig had quarterback in his blood, and opted to transfer.
He received an offer from Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, and was excited to get under center again.
About his time in junior college, Helbig said, “It’s like what you’d see in the movies; it’s a tiny town with one or two stop lights. Everyone works at Wal-Mart, the elementary school, or at the oil refinery. When I got there it was definitely a culture shock, but I’m glad I stuck it out.”
Helbig never doubted his own ability. Leaving Colorado was upsetting for him, but he knew that if he worked hard things would fall into place. Butler ended up being a blessing in disguise, as the small town allowed Helbig to focus entirely on his craft.
Upon his arrival at SUU, his focus was no different. Helbig arrived to a team coming off its best season ever. The star of last season was QB Patrick Tyler, and he left some big shoes to fill.
Coming into fall camp, Helbig was locked in a fierce competition for the starting job with Aaron Zwahlen. While both players worked hard, they displayed very different skillsets. It wasn’t until the eleventh hour when the SUU coaching staff announced that Helbig got the nod.
On Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, Helbig’s dream came to pass as he trotted onto the field as a Division I quarterback.
Helbig has by no means been eased into the position. The T-Birds started off the season with a heartbreaking loss to the University of North Alabama, then hit the road for back-to-back road games against Pac-12 competition.
Helbig did not back down. Through the first three games of the season, Helbig has thrown nine touchdowns and 926 yards, good for eighth in the nation.
But, Helbig is not pleased with individual statistics. He’s disappointed by the team’s 0-3 start.
“Being 0-3 stinks. Personally, I just want to help us win. If I can just focus on the little things that will put us in a better position to win and whatever it takes to get a victory. That’s the biggest thing,” Helbig said.
Head coach Demario Warren said that Helbig has been one of the bright spots of the 0-3 start and that he’s been tremendous in leading the offense to a good start this season.
“He’s passionate about what he’s doing,” said Offensive coordinator Justin Walterscheid. “He cares about being great, he cares about making his teammates great and he loves to put the work in. We’ll scour the country looking for a quarterback. When I saw his film and heard his story about just wanting a chance to play quarterback… On his recruiting visit I felt that he’s a very genuine and honest guy and I loved his character from the moment I met him.”
Helbig exudes a quiet confidence and that bleeds over into his leadership. The team needed a leader to step in, and Helbig did so with his example of hard work and passion for the game.
“He’s not a very vocal guy,” Walterscheid said. “He came in here and he wasn’t a guy that tried to demand the authority of, ‘I’m the quarterback, I’m the leader.’ He really earned it. His teammates gravitate toward him. He’s one of my favorite guys that I’ve been able to coach.”
That quiet leadership will be very important to the team’s success as conference play begins this weekend. Helbig will need to play well and lead the team through a daunting conference schedule.
Chris Helbig isn’t worried about that. He’s just happy to be living his dream.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: SUU Athletics Strategic Communication