ORONO, Maine — There wasn’t a lot of fanfare Thursday as the University of Maine chose its starting quarterback.
During the Black Bears’ morning practice on Morse Field, junior Marcus Wasilewski noticed that his main competition for the position, classmate John Ebeling, was working with the receivers.
And after taking all the quarterback repetitions during the session, the reality started to sink in. Wasilewski admitted it was a relief.
“Somewhat, I guess,” said the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from Kulpmont, Pa. “Finalizing the job you could say it’s over, but I definitely have a lot of work to do as a quarterback.”
Wasilewski had been competing with Ebeling for the right to replace graduated Warren Smith, who set a school single-season record by passing for 3,122 yards in 2011.
The competition unofficially began the day the 2011 season ended, heated up during spring workouts, then ended less than two weeks into training camp. It’s a feeling Wasilewski won’t forget.
“It means a lot,” he said. “That’s what you sign up for. When you’re a little kid the goal is to play and to play at this level, to put all that work in and have it pay off, this is all I’ve ever wanted.”
UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
The most recent quarterback duels, including the last two between Smith and Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth, who also has graduated, had gone down to the wire. Each time, Smith was the choice at the close of preseason camp.
This time, Wasilewski appeared to have the upper hand pretty much from the outset. He is considered to have the stronger throwing arm while Ebeling, a 6-4, 220-pounder from Mahwah, N.J., seemed to be more mobile.
During Monday’s first intrasquad scrimmage, Wasilewski wore the red jersey denoting hands-off status during contact, while Ebeling lined up in his navy blue No. 11 jersey.
Wasilewski, who wears No. 14, has seen only spot time for UMaine. He played in five games last season on special teams and is two-for-two passing in seven career appearances.
Thus, he is taking nothing for granted because of the challenges that await him and the Bears.
“Time’s running short. Boston College is right around the corner,” Wasilewski said of UMaine’s Sept. 8 opener. “We have a lot of business to take care of up until that point.”
The decision also may have been made easier because of Ebeling’s value in his other responsibilities on the team. He is the Bears’ snapper for punts and also has played slot receiver.
Ebeling played in all 13 games a year ago and caught two passes for 24 yards, both for touchdowns.
Wasilewski believes he has had a strong start to camp, thanks in part to Ebeling.
“I knew the competition was strong between me and John,” Wasilewski said. “I thought it was going to bring out the best in me and I thought it would bring out the best in him. This camp is the most comfortable I’ve felt.”
Wasilewski played at Mount Carmel (Pa.) High School, captaining the team to a 13-1 record, the Heartland Conference championship and the Pennsylvania District IV title as a senior. He was an all-state, second-team pick.
Moving forward, Wasilewski said the goal is simple: To continue improving practice by practice, day by day. It’s all about preparation.
“Experience will have something to do with it, getting my feet wet a little bit,” he explained. “The priority is going to be studying film on opponents and the preparation stage. I haven’t really had to prepare as the No. 1 guy because Treister and Warren were there.”