New role as receiver fits ex-Union QB Gourrier

In a familiar move to followers of the Dutchmen’s football program, head coach John Audino is again
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As a soph­omore, Jared Gourrier proved he possessed a quarterback’s arm and a running back’s legs.

Now, the Union College coaching staff wants to see if he has a wide receiver’s hands.

In a familiar move to followers of the Dutchmen’s football program, head coach John Audino is again converting one of his multi-skilled quarterbacks to another position. This time, he’s switching Gourrier, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound native of New Orleans, to wideout.

“We have a lot of quarterbacks,” said Audino, who has a 120-42

record in 16 seasons with the Garnet. “We needed someone with his athleticism on the field all the time. He gives us all the talents of a former quarterback. He runs, he throws, he jumps and he knows the offense. We’re finding out that he also catches the ball, and can run well after the catch. He did a good job for us at quarterback when

Andrew Catallier was hurt last year, but he’s very flexible, and we feel we can get even more out of him if we get him the ball as wide receiver.”

Gourrier didn’t throw that often, but when he did, he was effective as one of Union’s three QB’s last year. He completed 37 of 68 passes for 394 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted four times, and had an excellent quarterback rating of 101.02.

More impressive, however, were his rushing statistics. On planned quarterback keepers, or more often than not unscripted scrambles, he piled up 339 yards rushing and scored five touchdowns.

Gourrier said he has accepted the switch in positions.

“Things aren’t going badly at all,” he said. “Coach and I talked about it in the offseason. I’ve been working very hard at learning the position, and I like it better and better as time has gone.”

Yet Gourrier admitted that giving up the premier position on the field wasn’t easy.

“I’ve played quarterback since I was 5 years old,” he said. “It’s def­initely a different look now. When you’re the quarterback, you are in command. It’s like a catcher or a pitcher in baseball or a point guard in basketball. This is a different role for me.”

Gourrier said he is learning the ropes quickly on the other end of the passing game.

“This is my very first year of running routes. It’s very interesting,” he said. “I used to fool around catching the ball now and then, but I’ve never been a receiver that runs routes. Hopefully, everything will work out. I’m trying to make sure that I don’t put the ball on the ground. Dropping the ball or fumbling it is the worst thing a receiver can do.

“Coach [Jon] Knapp has high expectations for me. I want to make things happen for this team.”

Gourrier also said that the coaching staff wants him to keep his arm in shape, just in case.

“We’ve talked about continuing to throw the ball to keep my arm loose. You never know. We’ll just keep working and see what happens,” Gourrier said.

“The main thing is that I told coach Audino that I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win. He said this move will help us win, so I’m all for it.”

The Dutchmen were 5-2, tied for third, in the Liberty League last year, but finished 5-5 overall. Of the 50 lettermen returning, most are on the offensive side of the ball, including seven starters. Audino said this year’s team should be able to run with power and throw for big plays.

“In my 17 years of coaching, this the best group of quarterbacks that we’ve ever had,” said Audino. “Our group of running backs might be our deepest position, with Chris Coney, John Johnson, Jarid Hotaling [Albany Academy] and Kyle Holmes [Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake]. We’ve got a bunch of offensive linemen returning, and we’ve moved another of our former quarterbacks, Ted Civetti, to either a tight end or fullback position. We also got Joe Grassia, a 5-10, 240-pound transfer from UAlbany, at fullback.”

Most of Union’s graduation losses are on defense, but linebacker Joe Catalano (97 tackles) returns to provide toughness and leadership.

The Dutchmen open the season at Springfield Sept. 13.

SCHEDULE

SEPTEMBER

13 — at Springfield, 7; 20 — MUHLENBERG, 1; 27 — ROCHESTER, 1.

OCTOBER

4 — at WPI, 1; 11 — at Hobart, 1; 18 — ST. LAWRENCE, 1.

NOVEMBER

1 — at RPI, 1; 8 — U.S. MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY, 12; 15 — at Susquehanna, 12.

Home games in CAPS

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