ORONO – This past weekend, the University of Maine football team made it officially, tabbing redshirt freshman Chris Ferguson as its starting quarterback. The move effectively ended the four-man quarterback competition between Ferguson, upperclassmen Drew Belcher and Max Staver, and true freshman Isaiah Robinson. When receiving the call from head coach Joe Harasymiak to meet in his office, Ferguson wasn’t sure what to expect immediately. That feeling of uncertainty then changed.
“I went in, he sat me down, talked to me a little and let me know I’d be the starting quarterback. I got to call my dad. He was jacked up,” Ferguson said about Saturday morning’s meeting. “Just to do it and have the relief off your shoulders and focus on your team now and focus on beating UNH just feels good.”
Ferguson expressed gratuity for getting the chance to start after sitting out last season, knowing that he may be trusted to lead the Black Bears for not just this season, but beyond.
“It’s obviously a huge opportunity, a lot of pressure as well, but you kind of have to take that off your shoulders and play football and worry about your guys. I’ve got a lot of surrounding me that have played, they’re experienced and they’re really good players. I’m in a really good situation.”
Ferguson was one of the first players to arrive at an intense and physical practice Monday, but one of the faces of the competition was not present. Staver, the senior transfer, was not with the program Monday, and his future with UMaine going forward is uncertain.
Multiple sources connected to the program indicated to ABC 7 and Fox 22 Staver was expected to leave the program for good, but Harasymiak said Monday after practice “no decision has been made” officially regarding the quarterback.
“As of right now, he has not left the team,” Harasymiak said.
Should Staver leave, that would leave Maine with only Robinson as a backup, with Belcher having moved to tight end after the competition ended. That, of course, is subject to change.
By going with Ferguson, Maine picks a young gun who had a chance to observe the team implement its pro style offense last season under offensive coordinator Liam Coen and then-quarterback Dan Collins. Ferguson understands Maine fans will be expecting much of him in his freshman season, and he’s embracing the challenge.
“I think no matter what, [expectations] should be high. The pressure of it, you shouldn’t put that on you. But obviously, expect success out of yourself. With the team that I’m in, and the team that I’m surrounded by, I think there’s a great chance to have that success,” he said.
Maine kicks off the the season next Thursday night at the University of New Hampshire.