In recent months, Spalding rising senior Zach Abey had been in contact with several college football coaches interested in signing him as an “athlete.” Intrigued by Abey’s potential at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, those recruiters wanted to lock down an unofficial commitment now and figure out his position later.
All along, Abey hoped to play quarterback at the next level, and he expects to have that chance after offering an oral commitment last Sunday to Buffalo. Last month, the Bulls became the first school to extend a scholarship offer, and Coach Jeff Quinn sold Abey on his vision for how the quarterback would fit into his offense.
“I basically started playing quarterback when I was six,” Abey said. “That’s the position where I’ve put the most work in, and that’s the position I wanted to play [in] college football.”
Last fall, Abey guided Spalding’s Wing-T attack as a first-time starter under center and also directed the defense from free safety, his second season starting at that position.
He completed 50 of 105 passes for 605 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 785 yards and 10 scores. He also pulled down six interceptions for the Cavaliers, who went 5-5 in 2012. (Check out his junior highlights here.)
Abey will have to adapt to a different role this year with former Atholton Coach Kyle Schmitt taking over the team and overhauling the offense.
Schmitt said he’ll ask the quarterback to run more between the tackles and make the smart decision on read-option plays, responsibilities that should play to Abey’s strengths. Last fall, Atholton signal-caller Luke Casey (Rhode Island) rushed for 1,200 yards under Schmitt.
Buffalo’s coaches laid out a similar plan for Abey, according to Schmitt. They compared him to Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who last year became the first Football Bowl Subdivision player to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush for more than 1,500.
“I think sometimes the knock on the running quarterback is he’s a runner because he’s not a thrower,” said Schmitt, adding that Abey’s defensive snaps will likely decrease this fall. “That’s not the case with Zach. He throws a nice ball. I’m comfortable having him drop back on third and 10 and asking him to make a play.”
Abey, who also wrestles (earning honorable mention All-Met honors in the winter) and plays rugby at the Severn private school, said he didn’t plan to commit before his senior football season, but Buffalo made a strong push on his visit to a camp on June 9. He also camped at James Madison and Maryland this summer and had interest from Navy, among others.
Schmitt said Buffalo only planned to sign one quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class, and Abey decided to accept the offer before the team moved on to other options. On Sunday, the quarterback phoned Quinn with his decision.
“They recruited me pretty hard, and they definitely showed a lot of interest in me,” Abey said. “At the camp, they pretty much separated me from everybody else and made me feel like I was at home there.”