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Lafayette QB Situation Still Up in the Air
Injury to Parkland grad Marc Quilling temporarily takes him out of battle with 2 others.
Marc Quilling smiled at the question: Are you ever going to catch a break?
Instead of taking his share of reps with the other two players who are competing for the starting quarterback job next season at Lafayette – Ryan O’Neil and Andrew Shoop – Quilling, the Parkland High grad and a rising senior, was in shorts and a T-shirt as the temperature hit 92 degrees earlier this week in Fisher Stadium.
‘’I don’t know; I hope so,'’ said Quilling, who is the only one of the three who has ever started a game for the Leopards, but who did not take an official snap last season because of a back injury.
The back is fine now, but in a recent scrimmage situation, Quilling took a direct hit from a teammate’s helmet on his right thigh, resulting in a deep ‘’quad contusion.'’ He was to have it checked to determine if he will be able to return to full practice for the final week of spring practice.
‘’He was doing a good job right up until then,'’ Lafayette offensive coordinator Mickey Fein said of Quilling, ‘’Hopefully he will get it cleaned up. We’re in no rush [to pick a starter]. It could roll over into our fall camp.'’
Quilling has the most real-time experience of the trio. When Rob Curley was injured during the 2008 Colgate game, Quilling took over. He started the final three games of the season, throwing for three TDs and a Lafayette season-high 274 yards in a victory over Bucknell; bringing the Leopards within one play of a victory over Holy Cross and having a rough first half against Lehigh.
Curley had such a sensational season in 2009 that the rest of the QB corps was reduced to practice time. Only nine passes were thrown by anyone other than Curley – eight of them by O’Neil, who had only five net yards passing on four completions while playing in two games. Wide receiver Kyle Hayes threw one pass.
Lafayette coach Frank Tavani has said repeatedly that he would be comfortable with any of this year’s quarterbacks under center when the season opens at home against Georgetown on Sept. 11.
‘’During the spring, we try to develop the guys as much as we can,'’ Fein said. ‘’Even if they’re not going to play, we want them to get snaps. This is a good time to do that and get comfortable and find out who can do it and who can’t.'’
Fein, a former record-setting quarterback himself during his collegiate playing days at Maine, seems to have a knack for getting the most out of his starter. It was certainly that way with Curley last year.
‘’We challenged him and he rose to the challenge, and more,'’ Fein said of Curley.
Fein and Tavani are looking for more than arm strength or foot speed in their selection of a quarterback. Fein said that he and the three quarterbacks talk every day about the importance of leadership.
‘’It’s something that is demanded at the position,'’ Fein said. ‘’We continually try to get better at it. Being the quarterback, you have to be a leader. You can’t be one of the guys. You have to be the guy that the other 10 sets of eyes are looking at in the huddle. It’s a different world. They know it, but we also talk about it a lot. If they hadn’t been successful in high school they wouldn’t be here.'’
‘’Spring is all about building chemistry, and it’s time for all of us to step up,'’ Quilling said of himself and the other rising seniors. ‘’We are getting tons of reps and building leaders within the group.'’
Quilling said he will be one of the seniors making a presentation to the team in the next week as the time for picking captains draws near. ‘’I don’t have it written down; it’s all here,'’ he added, pointing to his head. ‘’It will be all from my heart.'’
If he is forced to sit out the rest of the spring practices, it will not affect his chances of earning the starting role. He knows that, but he senses the urgency of the situation – ‘’I'm all ready to go; I only have one year left,'’ he said.
Lafayette QB situation still up in the air
By Paul Reinhard, Special to the Allentown Morning Call