ORONO, Maine — When Iona College dropped its football program last fall, freshman quarterback Warren Smith was among the many Gaels players left wondering what they would do next.
As it turns out, the development was a positive one for Smith.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback will continue his career at a higher level of the Football Championship Subdivision next season as he has transferred to the University of Maine for the second semester.
“He’s excited to be here,” UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove said Tuesday of Smith, who will be eligible immediately since Iona cut its program.
Smith was among many players who slipped through the FCS recruiting cracks coming out of Forked River, N.J.
As a result, he spent his freshman season playing at Iona, which did not offer football scholarships.
The UMaine staff, which has specialized in recruiting and developing under-recruited football players, decided Warren was capable of taking his game to the Colonial Athletic Association level.
“We saw his first start against UCal-Davis [on tape] and were very impressed with him,” Cosgrove said. “We had an opportunity to recruit him. He came up here and was very impressed with his situation, which is a good thing for us.”
Smith was worked into the Iona rotation early as a first-year player, then took over at quarterback full time after senior Nick Rossetti went down with a season-ending knee injury. Smith wound up completing 127 of 234 passes for 1,347 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The slender Smith also rushed for 164 yards on 63 carries and scored two TDs.
Smith even comes in having the experience of playing on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium. He completed 19 of 31 passes for 122 yards with one TD and two interceptions in UMaine’s 55-7 victory over the Gaels on Nov. 1.
Cosgrove said the timing of Smith’s transfer was excellent after sophomore starter Adam Farkes announced in November that he was leaving UMaine.
“We had a dilemma with Adam leaving,” Cosgrove said. “Now here’s a kid who’s played a year and could be a sophomore next year or could redshirt.”
Senior Mike Brusko will return for his senior season after helping direct the Black Bears to an 8-5 record and a spot in the NCAA playoffs. Behind him, UMaine will have redshirt sophomore Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth and Smith on the depth chart.
“Michael is clearly the established starter and I have great faith in the development of Chris Treister. I think he’s improved tremendously,” Cosgrove said. “You never want to be caught without enough depth.”
Smith appears to possess both a good throwing arm and enough speed and agility to elude defenders.
Cosgrove not UMass candidate
The recent departure of University of Massachusetts head football coach Don Brown has created talk about the possibility of Cosgrove pursuing the position.
Cosgrove said Tuesday he has had no contact with UMass about the opening despite the fact he knows Minutemen athletic director John McCutcheon from his days at UMaine and Boston College.
Black Bears land swimmer
Freestyle specialist Kara Dubiel of Skillman, N.J. has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Maine in the fall.
Maine swimming and diving coach Skip Nitardy said Dubiel is going to be a “good addition to our mid-distance freestyle. We are graduating six seniors and she will be adding some new depth.”
Dubiel swims for Montgomery High School and the Somerset Valley YMCA and was a Skyland Conference second team selection in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay.
She has also qualified for three summer nationals and one spring nation while competing for Somerset Valley.
Her coming to Maine is contingent upon her admission to the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements including registration with the NCAA Clearinghouse.