ORONO, Maine —- When Max Andrews decided to attend the University of Maine, he knew the odds were stacked against him.
Even though he had an outstanding high school career, he played at Class C John Bapst High School in Bangor and that is a far cry from Football Championship Subdivision football.
After sitting out a redshirt season, Andrews saw limited duty at tight end and on special teams last fall. He played in 10 games and returned two kickoffs for 32 yards, both against the University of New Hampshire.
Now a redshirt sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining, Andrews is looking to increase his playing time dramatically this season as Associated Press third-team FCS All-American and two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team selection Justin Perillo has graduated.
Perillo now is seeking a spot on the Green Bay Packers roster, and his departure leaves sophomore Sean Reuss and Andrews as the only tight ends with experience.
Reuss made five catches for 74 yards in 12 games last fall.
“I’m hoping for more (playing) time this year now that Justin Perillo is gone,” said Andrews. “That has opened up a spot and it’s up for grabs. There’s a lot of competition. There’s seven, eight guys competing.”
Andrews said it was special getting some repetitions last season.
“It was a little nerve-wracking at first but after a couple of plays I got used to things. I wasn’t too nervous. Once I got the cobwebs out it was nice,” said Andrews.
He said he worked on his speed during the off-season.
“That’s one of my biggest things. Being 260 pounds like myself, I’m one of the bigger tight ends so I’ve got to be fast in this league. There’s no squat rack on the 50-yard line so I’ve got to be faster than the next guy,” said the 6-foot-3 Andrews.
“Max is much improved,” said Maine coach Jack Cosgrove. “He is a guy who has come here to learn and grow and has embraced the work ethic. He is becoming the player we think he’s going to be so we’ll be very much counting on him this year.
“He gives us a chance to get into some two tight-end sets. He has the ability to run and catch the football. He has a tremendous upside,” added Cosgrove. “There is a lot of excitement for him and for us as a result of his growth.”
Andrews, a three-time all-LTC first-team choice at John Bapst and a finalist for the Gaziano Defensive Lineman of the Year award, said playing tight end at Maine involves numerous responsibilities, including blocking.
“You’re an extension of the (interior) line. You’ve got to block like a tackle and also catch the ball and run routes,” said Andrews.
Andrews is glad he decided to take a chance by going to Maine.
“I didn’t get a lot of offers (from FCS schools) … I heard from a lot of Division III schools, he said. “But I felt I was ready for the challenge. I feel good about it.”