ORONO, Maine — It probably didn’t come as a huge shock to University of Maine football fans, but Dan Collins on Thursday night finally was anointed as the starting quarterback for the Black Bears.
Fewer than 48 hours prior to the kickoff of Friday’s 6 p.m. season opener against Norfolk State, UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove revealed the decision of the coaching staff on “The Coach Cos Radio Show” on the Black Bear radio network.
“Danny Collins will be the quarterback Saturday night to start the football game,” Cosgrove said. “He’s earned that spot through his (efforts), most impressively and most importantly, since the last scrimmage where I didn’t feel like … we really played the position the way it needed to be played.”
Collins, a third-year player from Williamstown, New Jersey, got the nod over first-year quarterback Drew Belcher of Reading, Massachusetts. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Collins appeared in two games last season as the backup to All-Colonial Athletic Association pick Marcus Wasilewski, completing four of six passes for 35 yards in limited duty.
That included a solid effort against Northwestern of the Big Ten Conference.
Cosgrove explained he was encouraged by the quarterbacks’ performance on the heels of a lackluster preseason scrimmage last week. He said Collins’ play amidst increased competition with Belcher and redshirt freshman Daniel Hoffer was noteworthy.
“The upside is, how practice has gone this week, that’s been very positive,” he said. “It has made it not necessarily a harder decision, but a clearer decision.
“This one took a little bit longer time,” he added.
Cosgrove spoke to the importance of seeing Collins making sound decisions on the field with his reads and throws as a key component of satisfying any concerns that coaches may have had in that area.
“Danny’s been the guy behind center with the first group and [is] doing a nice job of that. I feel good about the decision,” Cosgrove said.
“If your quarterback plays smart, your team will play smart,” he said.
Cosgrove said Belcher, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder who played a similar spread offense at Reading Memorial High School, will serve as the backup.
“The advantage, obviously, is that Danny’s run this offense for a couple years and Drew’s brand-spanking new,” Cosgrove said.
“He’s [Belcher] got athletic ability. He’s got great instincts and he’s a guy that we’re very, very excited about as well.”
Collins may have had to re-establish a bit of trust with his teammates and the UMaine coaching staff after an incident earlier this summer. On July 19, he was among four Black Bear football players summoned by park rangers for alcohol-related violations at Sand Beach in Acadia National Park.
Collins, Benjamin Davis of New Jersey and Sean Reuss of New York — all of whom are 20 years old — each were issued written violation notices for underage drinking, officials said.
Matthew Wilson, a 21-year-old senior from New York, told rangers that a cooler on the beach and the beer in it belonged to him. He was issued a written notice for possessing alcohol in an area of the park where alcohol is not allowed.