“He was probably our best receiver, and he couldn’t throw to himself. I saw the potential and, if we had better receivers, others would have seen it.”
For his part, Vailas wasn’t sold, and he was hardly planning on being a quarterback for the Wildcats.
“They recruited me as an athlete, and I was thinking I’d be a wide receiver or safety. But then they said they were going to try me at quarterback. I didn’t really like it, but I would do whatever they told me.”
Tutored by a quarterback coach for the first time, Vailas gradually transitioned into more of a passing quarterback.
“I had never really had much coaching on throwing and it wasn’t until college that I started improving,” he said. “They told me that my technique was pretty good, but there were little things, like keeping my elbow up and working on my footwork, that I needed to work on.”
Vailas definitely put in the work, elevating himself from the scout team as a freshman to the starter last year. In six games before hurting his shoulder he completed 126 of 217 passes for 18 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions.
Not having lost his running ability, Vailas also rushed for 451 yards and six touchdowns as UNH went 8-4. The Wildcats didn’t lose much when he was injured because freshman Sean Goldrich stepped in at QB and did a fine job.
That led to an intense competition to be starter this year. Vailas eventually got the nod after an excellent performance in the intrasquad game.
“The competition is good for both of us,” said Vailas, who is from Bedford, N.H. “I was named the starter but we’re still competing. Not that I’m on a short leash, but the coaches know we have two good quarterbacks and we could both play.”