Having a new quarterback under center can be an uncertain time for a college football team. But the Hoyas, who have two rookie signal callers, are certain that they have two talented players commanding the offense.
The arm of the quarterback tandem is 6-foot, 210-pound freshman James Brady. The rest of the body is the super-athletic New Havenite sophomore Keerome Lawrence. They’re young. They’re talented. And they’re only going to get better.
“They work terrifically together,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly says. “They’re team players and have handled everything we’ve thrown at them well. Both are mature guys.”
So far this season, the offense for the 1-3 (0-2 Patriot League) Hoyas has struggled mightily, but both signal callers understand that growing pains are going to happen.
“We’re young, and we’re going to make mistakes,” Brady says. “That’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. We need to get used to scoring and get in the end zone and just keep doing it. `Execute’ is the key word. That’s something Coach Kelly has been emphasizing.”
Lawrence is on the same page as Brady.
“At times, we’ll be able to move the ball up and down the field,” Lawrence says. “But then we’ll make these little mistakes, like on a third-and-2, we’ll fumble a snap or something. We need to correct those little mistakes.”
Brady and Lawrence will work through the youthful errors together. Through only four games as teammates, they have built a cohesive relationship, both on and off the field. Their differing styles have rubbed off on each other, and they are both aiming to become more complete players.
“Passing is my weak point,” Lawrence explains. “So when I come off the field, James will be right there coaching me and helping me with what I could have done better. He helped me change my throwing form, which has helped me a lot.”
Lawrence returns the favor when it comes to rushing the ball.
“Keerome is an incredible athlete,” Brady said. “He sees things when he runs that not a lot of other people see – I don’t know how he does it. I’ll come off the field after a run, and he’ll give me advice. We use our strengths and weaknesses to help each other.”
Even when the pads are off and the playbooks are stowed away, Brady, a Long Island native, and the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Lawrence, who sports some impressive dreadlocks, continue to cultivate a strong rapport.
“I’m actually his personal barber,” Lawrence says, as both young guns laughed. “Next time you see him, he’s gonna look like a million bucks.
“We get along great off the field,” he continued. “On the weekends, we all hang out at the [football] house.”
The strong-armed Brady, who has struggled at times with his accuracy, put together an impressive high school career. As a junior, he was named The New York Daily News’ player of the year, and as a senior captain, he earned all-state honors. Not to be outdone, Lawrence led his team to the state championship game as a junior, and in his senior year, he captained James Hillhouse High School to the Connecticut Class-M state title en route to becoming an all-state quarterback.
Both players clearly have winning pedigrees – the question is whether they can ultimately transfer that production to the college game. So far in 2008, Brady has thrown for 530 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions, while completing 52.4 percent of his passes. Lawrence is the Hoyas’ leading rusher with 160 yards on 41 carries.
“Things are looking up,” Brady says. “We have a lot of young guys and a lot of talent. We need to improve more and more each week.”
And if the youngsters keep improving at the pace that they’re going at right now, they will be spending less time rehashing little mistakes on the sideline and more time celebrating in the end zone.