For the first time since he was 18, Dave Shinskie is comfortable at the quarterback position.
That?s because the 26-year-old sophomore quarterback actually competed in the March Spring Game and received an entire offseason to train, study the playbook and learn to be a football player again.
"I was more a baseball player last year," Shinskie admitted. "Over the summer, I worked hard with the receivers and with the line, and I?m feeling more comfortable this year."
The former minor league baseball player enrolled at Boston College in late July last year and was immediately thrown into a four-man competition for the starting job. After splitting time with Justin Tuggle during the first three contests, Shinskie won the job outright and was given the reins to the BC offense.
After doing his best not to cost the Eagles any games in 2009 ? BC finished the regular season 8-4 ? Shinskie is looking to do more than last?s years 2,049 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. After being named the starter going into camp, he knows it starts with the fundamental progression of a young quarterback.
"Cut down on the interceptions, pre-read coverage and just work on my check downs a little more," Shinskie said of what he is working on. "It comes with learning the playbook, learning where your check downs are, learning what coverages go with what routes. It comes with time."
Time may be up for Shinskie?s learning curve. With a strong defense and fantastic running game, the Eagles are expecting an improvement from last year?s overachieving finish, and it starts at the quarterback position. But the gunslinger is just as excited as the rest of the team.
"We have a lot of veteran guys who know what we?re doing, and I can?t wait to show what we can do," Shinskie said. "We have a long way to go. We?re starting out pretty good, but we have a long way to go. I?m excited for this year."
The guys catching Shinskie?s passes agree.
"It takes some time to adjust, but he?s doing a better job already," said sophomore tight end Chris Pantale. "Certainly in a leadership role and I think this year he?ll have a breakout year."
"Dave, going into his second year with a year under his belt, has game experience. That?s kind of rare," said receiver Colin Larmond Jr. "You can get the practice side, but to get the actual game experience doesn?t happen a lot. Now, we watch film together so we digest the film together, our timing?s down, the chemistry is there. He knows where I?m going to be, and I know where he is going to put the ball. It?s going to be an explosive year ? not just Dave and I, but the entire offense."
Even head coach Frank Spaziani, who held very realistic expectations for his freshman quarterback, has seen marked improvement in the often inconsistent Shinskie.
"He has a better understanding of what we expect of him and a better understanding of what it takes to be a big league quarterback," Spaziani said. "He?s doing all the little things he needs to do to be accountable. He?s making progress."
Shinskie is a year older and a year wiser. He has had a full offseason to prepare. He even holds the job title of undisputed starting quarterback. Whether he can put it all together, however, remains to be seen. For what it?s worth, the man taking the snaps sure thinks he can.
"We worked hard over the summer, I competed over the summer and I?m competing now," Shinskie said. "Having the Spring Game under me, I don?t know why this offense can?t thrive on Saturdays."
No one else on the team seems to believe otherwise.