When Brandon Gwinner visits Morrisville State this weekend, the Schenectady High School record-setter is hoping to make another positive impression on Mustangs football coach Curt Fitzpatrick, whom he agreed to play for last month after looking at several schools.
Fitzpatick, who led Morrisville to a 9-2 record in 2014, has already left an impression on Gwinner.
“When I visited the school, I really liked the coach, and I liked how he said they want to throw a little more,” said Gwinner, one of the Mustangs’ quarterback recruits. “They run a spread offense just like ours. That’s perfect for me.”
Gwinner is not allowed to participate with the Mustangs, per NCAA rules, but plans to ask a lot of questions as he watches their drills. The Class AA Liberty Division first-team all-star is looking at his visit as a business trip.
“Me, a quarterback from Buffalo and another one from Rochester are going up for a spring practice,” said the 17-year-old Gwinner. “I want to let them know I’m serious about it, that I want to play.”
“He’ll watch and meet the guys and get a feel for what we do,” said Fitzpatrick.
The Mustangs had four quarterbacks on their 2014 roster, led by senior Lamar Johnson, who set numerous school records in his illustrious career that was capped by a 52-41 win over Utica in the ECAC Division III Central Football Bowl championship game. Morrisville’s other three signalcallers were freshmen, and Javon Moore, last year’s No. 2 behind Johnson, is the only one back, according to Fitzpatrick.
“A lot of schools I looked at have seniors. We have three freshmen [coming in],” said Gwinner. “I know I’ve got to work hard, but I like my chances.”
“We’re looking for our freshmen to step up to the plate and compete,” said Fitzpatrick. “We’re trying to find a guy who can move our offense.”
In his second year as Schenectady’s starter, Gwinner set single-season school records in 2014 with 1,845 passing yards and 18 touchdowns, and earned a second-team nod on The Daily Gazette All-Area team. He set one-game records with 309 yards and five touchdowns in a 47-34 loss to Guilderland.
“In the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play baseball or football,” said Schenectady’s November male athlete of the month. “After the season, I knew football was what I wanted to do.”
Gwinner is playing lacrosse this spring rather than baseball.
“Lacrosse is physical and good for conditioning,” said Gwinner, who started for the North in its 31-0 Exceptional Senior game win over the South. “I like baseball a lot, but my thought was lacrosse would be better preparation [for football] for me.”
Morrisville went 6-1 for a share of the New Jersey Athletic Conference title last season and tied the program record for overall wins at the Division III level, which it went to in 2006. Morrisville will compete in the Empire 8 starting in 2015, joining Hartwick, Ithaca, St. John Fisher and Utica, among other institutions.
Before coming to Morrisville in 2013, Fitzpatrick was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Utica. Former Schenectady coach Jim Kramer replaced Fitzpatrick at Utica when he departed.
“All of the people there are real nice. They have indoor facilities and a turf field. The food is great. I liked the town. I felt so good in that environment,” said Gwinner, who is considering a career in physical therapy. “Once I visited Morrisville, I really wanted to go there.”
“He’s really excited to get out there,” said Schenectady football coach Mark Cerrone. “That’s all he’s talked about all week.”
Running back Hunter Gac of state Class B runner-up Schalmont and lineman Jasper Graves of Ballston Spa have also committed to Morrisville.
Fitzpatrick said Morrisville recently agreed to a home-and-away series with Union College in 2017-18.