ALBANY — A full crowd of local media members waiting for him in the midst of his team’s bye week, University at Albany football head Greg Gattuso deadpanned his take as he approached.
“There must be a 21-season NFL veteran’s kid on our team,” Gattuso said.
For the first time since joining the Great Danes in early September, Vincent Testaverde — son of Vinny Testaverde, a former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner — was made available for comment after Thursday’s practice at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. After transferring to UAlbany right as the 2017 season started, Vincent Testaverde is only able to practice this season and has one remaining year of playing eligibility.
Previously, Vincent Testaverde spent the past two years at the University of Miami — where his father starred — and spent the prior year at Texas Tech. Testaverde never played at Miami. In his season at Texas Tech, he completed 15 of 26 passes for 116 yards and threw an interception.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Vincent Testaverde, a redshirt junior walk-on this season for UAlbany. “It was hard when I did announce I was transferring because I didn’t know where I was going to go, but I was lucky enough to have Albany reach out so fast.”
Vincent Testaverde’s father, who played seven seasons for the New York Jets, was college teammates with UAlbany associate head coach/defensive coordinator Bernard Clark. Vincent Testaverde said he had no personal relationship with Clark before coming to UAlbany, but that the Great Danes assistant coach’s relationship with his father helped facilitate the move.
Gattuso said Clark approached him about potentially bringing in Vincent Testaverde. The decision to do so, Gattuso said, was an easy one.
“We’re always going to add good players to our football team,” Gattuso said. “He’s a good kid, a good student. He fit all the profiles we’re looking for.”
During the process, Gattuso said he had a brief conversation with Vinny Testaverde. The coach said that Testaverde offered to help the UAlbany staff during the offseason, if wanted. Gattuso said he accepted that offer, and then their conversation went in a different direction.
“I made fun of him because Penn State beat him in the [1987 Fiesta Bowl],” said Gattuso, a former Nittany Lion. “He took that pretty well.”
Vincent Testaverde, 21, said he’s only had one instance on the UAlbany campus of a non-athlete student asking him about his name. That took place last week when he signed an attendance sheet for a class. In general, though, he said he goes either by “Vince” or “Vincent,” but that he’s comfortable in his own skin as the son of a former pro athlete.
“I do call him Vinny,” Gattuso pointed out. “He doesn’t hit me.”
Gattuso said Vincent Testaverde will compete along with the rest of UAlbany’s quarterbacks in the spring for next year’s starting job. While redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Brunson has played well in his first full season starting, Gattuso said no position for the Great Danes is a “lifetime appointment.”
“Vincent will get that shot,” Gattuso said. “If he’s the guy, he’ll be the guy.”
Vincent Testaverde said he’s appreciated the way the rest of UAlbany’s quarterbacks treated him after his arrival.
“They’ve been very welcoming,” Vincent Testaverde said. “The first day on the field, they came up to me, introduced themselves and they’ve [created] nothing but a friendly environment.”
As for comparisons to his father, Vincent Testaverde said he views himself as a similar style of a player. He doesn’t feel pressure from his father.
“Be you. You’re different from me. You’re your own self, your own player,” Vincent Testaverde said his father’s usual message to him.
Being Vincent Testaverde, Gattuso said, is a pretty good thing.
“He has a much better throwing motion [than his father]. He’s more mobile. He’s better looking,” Gattuso said. “So he’s got all those things going for him.”