As the starting quarterback at the University of New Hampshire, which is well known for its wide-open offense, junior Andy Vailas is living a dream.
Except for one thing. This was not his dream.
“I just wanted to play college football, at as high a level as I could,” said Vailas, a Bishop Guertin graduate who played a post-graduate season at Phillips Academy in 2009. “I never thought about playing quarterback.
“At times, when I first came here, I wasn’t happy about it. When I was younger, I always wanted to play receiver in college.”
And, understandably, that’s probably where most people thought Vailas would end up. As a junior at Bishop Guertin, he was honored as an All-Division 2 split end and was also known as an outstanding defensive back.
When Guertin’s quarterback graduated, Vailas was switched to quarterback to take advantage of his athletic skills in BG’s run-oriented option attack. He responded with 1,200 yards rushing while throwing for just one touchdown for the Division 2 champion Cardinals.
“It was almost like I wasn’t a quarterback,” said Vailas, a 6-foot-2, 195-pounder. “I really didn’t know what I was doing when I passed.”
Anxious to improve his football and academic skills, Vailas came to Phillips. Head coach Leon Modeste recognized his potential as a signal-caller and promptly inserted him as the Big Blue’s starting quarterback.
The results, at least on paper, were hardly impressive. Vailas completed less than 50 percent of his passes (38 of 82) for just 517 yards and six TDs. By comparison, the area leaders that year, Whittier’s Dillon Ryan and Lawrence’s Nick Elwell, both threw for 23 touchdowns.
But statistics can be deceiving, said Modeste.
“We ran the ball a lot that year and we didn’t have a wealth of receivers,” said Modeste. “Andy was a good passer and a great leader for us and he got better as a passer.