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Senior QB Marc Quilling Battling Injuries, Competition
When Lafayette College’s football team went through its first full preseason practice Friday afternoon, senior quarterback Marc Quilling could be excused if he treads a tad lightly for a few practices.
Quilling, a Parkland High School graduate, played in seven games and started three at quarterback for the Leopards in 2008, completing 45 of 76 passes for 555 yards and four touchdowns.
That promising start was quickly derailed by injuries, though. Quilling missed much of the 2009 season with a back injury. He recovered from that for spring practice this year only to go down with a leg injury.
That has allowed junior Ryan O’Neil to, as head coach Frank Tavani said, “establish himself” at quarterback heading into the fall as Lafayette prepares for its opener on Sept. 11 at home with a Patriot League game against Georgetown.
“Mark’s realistic, coming into his senior year,” Tavani said. “It was hard for him in the spring not practicing.”
Quilling is ready to show that he can compete for the spot. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, he brings size to the position. He said his physicality is a plus.
“I’ll stay in the pocket until the last minute, make the read and get the ball out,” Quilling said. “No one around will want to win as much as me.”
In both ways, it’s possible to compare Quilling to another, perhaps better-known signal caller.
“Just call me Tim Tebow,” he said with a broad smile and laugh. “I even wear the same number (15). I’m not going to juke past a tackler. I am going to put my head down and go straight at you.”
Quilling attacks questions the same way. Asked about the disappointing end to the 2009 season – which saw the Leopards fall to Holy Cross and archrival Lehigh and blow a chance for their first league title since 2006 and with it an FCS playoff berth – he didn’t swerve away at all.
“As seniors we know we’ve had a great three years (Lafayette is 22-11 in that stretch), but we let the end of the season slip away,” he said. “We put ourselves in position to win but we have to do a little extra work to get over the hump.”
Two straight losses to Lehigh – including in overtime in 2009 – stick in the seniors’ craws, too.
“If you can win that game, because it’s such a big game, it puts you in a good mood for the next season, too,” Quilling said. “We have to work hard on getting the little things right.”
Notes: Lafayette’s camp runs through the start of school on Aug. 30. The team will have its first full pads practice Tuesday … The team’s first three games are at night, home to the Hoyas (6 p.m.) and then away at Penn (7 p.m. Sept. 18) and Princeton (6 p.m. Sept. 25).
Lafayette College senior Marc Quilling battling injuries, competition at quarterback position
By BRAD WILSON, The Express-Times