With three-year starter Nick Shafnisky graduating this year, the time has finally arrived for sophomore quarterback Brad Mayes to take over the team as his own.
Mayes is a native of Tampa, Florida, where he shined for Berkeley Prep as a two-time MVP and accounted for over 5,000 yards of total offense and 50 touchdowns.
“(Mayes) has really grown up,” coach Andy Coen said after the annual Brown and White scrimmage held at Goodman Stadium. “In the past he was a backup guy, now as a starter he has to do a great job as a leader.”
Mayes was not an ordinary second-string quarterback. As the backup in his first two seasons, Mayes tallied 20 touchdowns and threw for 2,124 yards. Filling in for an injured Shafnisky against Yale University, he threw for a school record 524 yards to go along with six passing touchdowns and was later named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week.
With all the experience he’s had in his career at Lehigh, Mayes is focused on improving his skills as a leader on the team.
“I want to up my leadership,” Mayes said. “Coming off the bench last year I want to mentally prepare better than I have in the past.”
The Brown and White scrimmage allows fans to get a glimpse of how Mayes and the Mountain Hawks will look in 2017. Mayes completed 9-of-16 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns to the Patriot League’s top receiving duo, juniors Gatlin Casey and Troy Pelletier.
Facing constant pressure throughout the scrimmage, Mayes was still able to make a few tight passes including a deep post route to Casey for a touchdown.
Mayes connected with Pelletier for his second touchdown of the day on a 14-yard pass on fourth down. The offense would go on to defeat the defense, 48-34. Pelletier, who led the Patriot League in receiving yards and receptions in 2016, said he and Mayes have been in sync since the day Mayes arrived on campus.
“Even when he came in as a freshman, we were beginning to build our chemistry,” Pelletier said.
By getting reps in practice and started three games last season, the receivers have gotten a chance to experience Mayes’ throwing style.
“Last year I wasn’t viewed as a starter,” Mayes said. “Now I have to do my job, which is easy because I just get my play makers the ball, and they do the rest.”
Shafnisky was a dual threat at quarterback for the Mountain Hawks while Mayes is considered to be more of a pocket-passer and make those deep throws that receivers covet.
Even with these differences, Coen sees minimal adjustments needed in his offense.
“Our offense will change a little bit,” Coen said. “Mayes got out of the pocket and ran well today, but for most of the time he will be a thrower.”
Pelletier embraced the fact that his new quarterback is a pocket-passer. His ability to see the field will give a big chance to receivers who are open down the field.
Although their playing styles differ, Mayes has been able to carry over some of the same leadership qualities that existed in the past with Shafnisky leading the huddle. Pelletier said Mayes is a lot like Shafnisky in that he isn’t afraid to say anything and keep the team in check.
Expectations for Mayes will be high after he was the only quarterback in the country to throw for more than 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games or fewer last season.
Mayes and Shafnisky might have different approaches to the game, but Mayes hopes to replicate Shafnisky’s ultimate achievement: a Patriot League Championship.
Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.
The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.