UAlbany football names starting quarterback for Baylor opener


University at Albany sophomore quarterback Reese Poffenbarger will get his first college start on Saturday and the first crack at powerful Baylor of the Big 12.

Great Danes head coach Greg Gattuso confirmed he will start Poffenbarger, a transfer from Old Dominion, against the 10th-ranked Bears at 7 p.m.  in Waco, Texas. Gattuso also plans to use backup quarterbacks Joey Carino and Tyler Szalkowski in a game in which the Great Danes will be a huge underdog.

“He’s going to start for Baylor,” Gattuso said of Poffenbarger. “The other guys are doing well, so as I always said, I really just think you’ve got to get in games and win games before you’re locked in as a starter. Those other guys have done very well and it’s hard on them, but they’re still fighting for position and I’m not even sure who’s going to be the second guy in the Baylor game. I’m going to try to play all three of them, for sure, and maybe flip a coin, I don’t know. They’re both pretty good, the other two.”

Gattuso said the flow of the Baylor game will determine when he switches quarterbacks.

“I don’t know what to expect or how we’re going to play or where we’ll be at halftime or anything like that,” Gattuso said. “But the goal is to make sure we get everybody some snaps in that game, for sure.”

Poffenberger, from Middletown, Md., transferred into UAlbany after spring football. He redshirted as an ODU freshman and has never taken a college snap. But he outperformed Carino, a sophomore who started one game last season, and Szalkowski, a freshman who appeared in one game last year, in the preseason.

“I think he’s played the best of the three good ones and, for whatever reason, he’s kind of shined with some of his throws,” Gattuso said. “But they’ve all been good. It’s been a good battle. It’s not over.”

After Baylor, UAlbany plays its home opener on Sept. 10 against Colonial Athletic Association rival New Hampshire at Casey Stadium.

In high school, Poffenbarger was named Maryland Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state quarterback.

“Good feeling,” Poffenbarger said of being named opening-high starter. “Not really changing much of anything, like how I’m preparing. I feel like all three of us having been preparing like we are the starter, so it’s not really a big change in that. Definitely is exciting, though, that I get to showcase what me and this team is capable of.”

“I’m not going to put any expectations on the game,” Poffenbarger continued. “I just know our offense is going to be explosive all year long. And I think we’re going to be able to put together a pretty good performance on offense if we do what we’re being coached to do.”

Poffenbarger said he felt confident coming into UAlbany he can win the starting job despite missing the spring.

“Really, just my belief that I’ve always had in myself and just the comfort I felt with the offense and really just recruiting,” Poffenbarger said. “They told me when I was being recruited that I’d have the chance to compete at the exact level as everybody else was.”

Graduate student Matt Valecce, a Colorado State transfer, has lagged behind the other three quarterbacks in the competition, according to Gattuso.

” think the other guys have outperformed him to this point,” Gattuso said. “It’s just hard for three guys (in a competition), let alone four. He’s a great kid and he’s worked hard. That’s the main thing we’ve looked for.”






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