The group at a glance:
No. Name Height Weight Exp. Hometown/School
10 Jake Sisson 6-0 215 Sophomore Jamestown, N.Y./Jamestown
16 Ryan Maniaci 6-0 180 Freshman Marion, Ohio/Marion Pleasant
17 Jack Wallman 6-4 208 Freshman Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon
18 Bennie Thompkins 5-10 180 RS-Freshman Ambridge, Pa/Ambridge Area
Players lost: Cody Harris, Cameron Sheppard
Players returning: Jake Sisson, Bennie Thompkins
Newcomers: Ryan Maniaci, Jack Wallman
Six years of Cody Harris and four years prior to that of older brother Trevor under center wearing the red and white have finally come to an end. In less than two weeks, Edinboro will trot out a quarterback to start the 2015 season without the last name Harris for the first time since the opening of the 2005 campaign. Despite playing behind an offensive line that surrendered a school-record 57 sacks to its opponents a season ago, the now departed QB was able to make things happen, engineering a passing attack that had the potential to be dangerous when fully clicking. Cody completed 238-of-342 passes for 2,344 yards and averaged just shy of 235 yards per game through the air. The area most difficult to believe in, despite the poor protection up front, was Cody’s ability to take care of the football. Tossing 18 touchdowns on the year, he only threw three interceptions all season, completing 69.6 percent of his passes and finishing with an efficiency rating of 142.8 in 2014.
Moving forward, the Fighting Scots have to come to a decision on who their guy is at the quarterback position before they can even think of getting some talented playmakers involved. Or do they? Is it possible Edinboro will rotate at the position and give opportunities to two, three or even all four guys? Upon the return of former Scots QB Jon Girvin in the spring, it was initially thought to have been a five-man race, but coach Scott Browning confirmed at PSAC West media day earlier this month that Girvin has decided to play tight end with the possibility of a move to defense if it doesn’t work out in an offensive three-point stance. With Girvin out of the mix, for now, how will the race shake out if the Scots do indeed stick with one guy?
Ultimately, Sisson has the leg up for a couple of obvious reasons. The Jamestown native is the only one in the four-man race who has taken a snap for Edinboro — or for any college program in live game action for that matter. Although he was ‘thrown to the wolves’ as a teammate described it at media day, Sisson did log a start at Slippery Rock last October and performed to the best of his ability against a vaunted Rock defense.
The other advantage for Sisson is not having competition from two of his position mates in practice until fall camp. Neither Wallman nor Maniaci were put through spring drills as they were still finishing up their senior years of high school while Sisson and Thompkins were out on the practice field at Sox Harrison Stadium.
Browning on the QB situation: “It’s good, we’ve got Jake Sisson who took some good, quality snaps for us last year and I thought Jake really showed a lot of promise. I think he will be able to run our offense the way we would like to have our offense be run, but it’s exciting. You hate to see the Harris era end, but you’re excited about the next era that’s going to begin.”
Browning on who would be the guy today: “Jake would be with the experience that he brings in, he was with us in the spring, but we’ve recruited a couple really fine quarterbacks and I think there’s going to be good solid competition there.”
Senior LB Mike Shansky on the QB situation: “Jake Sisson, hopefully he can improve upon what he did last year. He’s a good, young quarterback. Our freshmen coming in, we have Jack Wallman, I’ve looked at him a little bit and he looks pretty decent. Hopefully he can contribute to us and help us win some games.”
Senior DE Dom Principale on QB situation: “We expect big things. Jake Sisson needs to step up. He’s our incoming quarterback this year, because Cody Harris is gone. It’s the first time we haven’t had a Harris in a long time. Jake Sisson will step in and be our quarterback. He’s an amazing athlete and he’s already proven himself at the high school level. He just needs to get comfortable in our system and settle into being a college athlete. If we can get him settled in, then our wide receiving corps is going to take care of the rest.”
“Principale on if he sees Sisson as the guy: “At the moment, yes, because the other quarterbacks that are coming in are transfers and you pay your dues as you keep going, so you know the system already so you’ll be first in line. It’s always a competition. You’re never handed jobs; it’s always a competition, even me, myself. There’s always people that want my spot.”
Principale on Sisson: “He’s an athlete; he makes things happen, much like Cody Harris he’s mobile. If he needs to get out of the pocket, he will get out of the pocket. The arm is tremendous. He can throw it on a dime, 50 yards away. So he just needs to settle in. The games he’s played in, he’s been thrown to the wolves a little bit. He’s young. When you’re young, you can’t settle in to playing someone who's 22 years old who has played four years. It’s a little bit different, you’re 19, it’s tough.”
Former Edinboro quarterback Joe Wanson, a career backup during Trevor Harris’ record-setting days, will coach quarterbacks and receivers after being hired by Browning in late July to return to his alma mater. Operating this season without an offensive coordinator after multiple changes between the conclusion of the 2014 season and the 2015 opener, Wanson will be counted on in a large manner within the Boro offense. He’ll have a big hand in the development of Edinboro’s eventual starter and with the entire depth of the position, along with the receivers.
What to expect:
As has been the case in all levels of college football across the nation, the veteran will get the nod from the outset in all likelihood. It’s rare to classify a true sophomore as a veteran, but this situation is all relative to the average circumstances. Quite simply, this is Sisson’s job to lose. If anyone unseats the second year guy in camp, that will carry a ton of weight in what the coaching staff sees in not individual, but what they feel they do not see in Sisson. As far as moving past the season opener on September 3, expect that between potential inconsistent play at the position (maybe even through no fault of their own, but rather the offense as a whole) and possible injury, a repeat of the 2013 season at QB could be coming. Cody Harris’ broken ribs in game two of the season shut down the signal caller for the year, giving way to the shuffling of three different guys as the Scots were constantly looking for answers. If one guy can take off and run with it, Edinboro could be in for a successful year on the offensive side of the ball when considering the potential of its play makers all around the field.
Mike Fenner is a staff writer at The Spectator and the general manager of WFSE Radio.