As we countdown to the opening kickoff of the 2014 football season on Sept. 6, The Mack Report will preview the Warriors position-by-position. Click here to read our other position-by-position previews.
NORTH ANDOVER – There’s no doubt, the biggest question mark surrounding Merrimack College entering this fall is who will take the snaps at quarterback after one of the program’s best-ever, Joe Clancy, graduated last spring.
The front-runner in the early part of camp was senior Luke Bakanowsky. He knows the offense and has been in the system the longest.
But there is a handful of younger quarterbacks, including intriguing freshman Joe Capobianco and sophomore transfer Nick LaSpada, who was one of the best high school players in Massachusetts at Billerica before suffering an injury.
Total Players: 4
Class Breakdown: Seniors (2), Juniors (0), Sophomores (1), Freshmen (2)
Returning Starters: 0
Coach Quote: “We have a lot of options, which is great,” head coach Dan Curran said. “Luke might be the guy. He has the experience, we still need to see where it goes. Joe is a good young player and has a really strong arm, but it’s one of those things where we need to determine if he’s ready to handle that load. Nick is a really great athlete and I’ve watched him for a while. I think we could almost put him at receiver he’s so quick, so there’s definitely some options there for us. He has things that as a coach, you just can’t teach. He’s a special player, and a special kid.
“Regardless of who it is, I’d prefer to not go back and forth. I’d like to select a guy, and then stick with that guy.”
#11 Luke Bakanowsky, Sr., 6-1, 215
Bakanowsky has bided his time behind Clancy, and before that, James Suozzo. He has good size and is 6 for 8 passing in his limited time throughout his Merrimack career. At Oakmont Regional he was a star quarterback, leading his team to a Super Bowl as a sophomore and was also named the game’s MVP. He doesn’t have Clancy’s arm, but he makes up with it in his mobility, rushing for more than 1,000 and passing for more than 1,000 yards as a senior in high school.
#5 Nick LaSpada, So., 6-1, 190
LaSpada is perhaps the most intriguing player at the position, and one of the most intriguing stories in the entire team. LaSpada is a transfer from Bates, where he completed 23 of 39 passes last season for 266 yards and a touchdown.
He had one of the most prolific high school careers in Massachusetts history, throwing for 7,098 yards and 71 touchdowns over his career. Several Division 1 schools were recruiting LaSpada, who was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Massachusetts as a sophomore, before he ultimately committed to Harvard.
But Harvard backed off after a major health scare his senior season, when blood clots were discovered in his lung.
#7 Joe Capobianco, Fr., 5-11, 210
Capobianco comes to Merrimack after starring at Lawrence High School in New York. He has a big arm, and was name the New York State Player of the Year both his junior and senior season. He finished his high school career with exactly 100 touchdown passes and more than 8,000 yards passing. His size isn’t ideal at 5-foot-11, but that shouldn’t stop him from producing — it hasn’t yet. How tall is Russell Wilson? … Capobianco was also recruited heavily by Stonehill and AIC.
#14 Chris Mullins, Fr., 6-2, 220
A Virginia native, Mullins led his high school team to a 24-2 record as a junior and senior. In his senior season, he led his district in passing yards, touchdown passes and competition percentage. He has really good size and was also recruited by Norwich and Western New England.
Mike McMahon covers Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report as well as on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN