There’s still more than three months until the IUP football team plays its first game, but there’s no question who the starting quarterback will be for the Crimson Hawks.
Following the graduation of four-year starter Lenny Williams, who went 38-7 the past four seasons, IUP has added a one-year transfer from an NCAA Division I program to bridge the gap until a young quarterback is ready to lead the offense.
Quinton Maxwell, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound quarterback from Ohio University, has transferred to IUP and will enroll this fall as a graduate student. In three seasons at Ohio, the Rayville, Mo., native played in 23 games with eight starts.
“He’s a competitor and he doesn’t want to be a backup,” said IUP head coach Paul Tortorella. “It was kind of a perfect (situation): we were looking for a guy for a year and he was looking for a place for a year, and it worked out. It was a right-place, right-time kind of deal.”
Tortorella and his staff contacted Maxwell through the NCAA’s new Transfer Portal, a website that allows student-athletes to let it be known they are looking to leave their current school. Both sides got to know each other a bit better during the spring, and Maxwell made his commitment public in April.
Maxwell started six games as a freshman at Ohio in 2016, but then lost the job to Nathan Rourke the following year and has primarily seen backup duty since. In his three seasons with the Bobcats, Maxwell completed 125 of 225 passes for 1,773 yards and 12 touchdowns against six interceptions. He also rushed for 291 yards and five touchdowns.
“He’s a guy who has really good size and is very athletic,” Tortorella said. “He has shown that he can make all the throws. The thing that stands out is that he throws the ball well with guys in his face. He has a presence in the pocket.”
Maxwell is expected to be the starter this fall for the Crimson Hawks, with fellow transfer Jalen Reese (Toledo) serving as the No. 2 and sophomore Javon Davis expected to be the No. 3.
Reese, a walk-on who is also a graduate student, was a pleasant surprise for the coaching staff during April’s spring drills. Although he had never taken a snap as a quarterback at Toledo, Reese showed enough ability in spring to win the No. 2 job, which is probably a good thing for Davis because he can preserve a year of eligibility by taking a redshirt this fall and then work to win the starting job in 2020.
A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Davis came to IUP last fall as one of two standout quarterbacks in the 2018 recruiting class. The other one, Yahmir Wilkerson, took a redshirt last fall and ran the scout team, but he could not unseat Davis on the depth chart this spring and would have entered 2019 as the fourth quarterback.
Wilkerson announced last month that he has put his name in the Transfer Portal and plans on enrolling elsewhere this fall.
“Sometimes it works like that,” Tortorella said. “He redshirted (last year), so he still has four years left. I can understand the situation. We were fine with him staying and competing again next year. It wasn’t etched in stone, but Davis was ahead of him.”
Maxwell will be the Crimson Hawks’ fourth starting quarterback in a row to transfer from an NCAA Division I school, following Williams (Temple), Chase Haslett (Illinois) and Mike Box (Connecticut).
NOTES: The players report Aug. 11 for preseason camp. The first game is at home against New Haven (Conn.) on Sept. 7. … Starting safety Shaq Jones, who missed spring ball because of a shoulder injury, is healed and will be ready to go in August, Tortorella reported. He also said sophomore cornerback Obi Anyatonwu, who injured his shoulder during spring practice, had surgery recently and probably won’t be ready to play until mid-season, so he likely will take a medical redshirt. … Tortorella said wide receiver Michon Sobers and defensive back Mikale Makle are no longer on the roster. He declined to elaborate, but did say “it’s not an academic situation.”