Born to play
For Vailas, it was football from the start
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 01:09
When starting quarterback Andy Vailas steps onto the field, he is the ultimate offensive threat. Not only can he throw the ball with accuracy, but when needed he can run downfield. In addition to his physical skills, his instincts are sound and were ingrained in him long before he knew it.
Vailas was born in Concord, N.H., into a family of football players. Having four uncles who have played the game, two at UNH, and a father who played and coached, one could almost say it was written in the stars that Vailas would pursue a similar path. Vailas’ first experiences came young when he went with his father to Gill Stadium in Manchester to watch older friends compete on the gridiron. Truthfully, though, it began before that.
“I’m pretty sure my first experience was playing on the living room floor against my dad,” Vailas said.
Vailas did not play football until he was in fifth grade because his town didn’t have a league. When he did play, it was clear from the beginning that he could run.
“I was always fast,” Vailas said, “The question became what to do when I got the ball.”
Throughout both middle and high school, Vailas thrived in football but not as a quarterback. Throughout his career at Bishop Gurtin High School in Nashua, Vailas played split end (All-State as a junior) and defensive back until his senior year when he was forced into the job of QB.
Vailas described himself not as a quarterback, but rather “more of a running back.” When asked what he meant, a smile came across his face as he said, “I only threw one touchdown pass.”
From Bishop Gurtin, Vailas elected to take a post-grad year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. where he developed as a quarterback. Although he had a less than fifty percent completion rate at Phillips, the strides he made were evident.
“We ran the ball a lot that year and we didn’t have a wealth of receivers,” Phillips Academy head coach Leon Modeste said in an interview on Sept. 15 with EagleTribune.com. “Andy was a good passer and a great leader for us, and he got better as a passer.
“He was probably our best receiver, and he couldn’t throw to himself. I saw the potential, and if we had better receivers, others would have seen it.”
Nevertheless a quarterback was born.
The recruiting process for Vailas was an interesting one, and he admits he did not take the initiative of putting himself out there for recruitment.
“I think I went about recruiting in the worst way,” Vailas said. “I didn’t put my highlight tape on YouTube like some guys do today, and I honestly didn’t look at many schools or contact many coaches to inform them about my post-grad year.”
But as he always had, Vailas’s father steadied the course.
“My dad would always say, if you’re good enough, they’ll come to you,” Vailas said.
With his older brother Jimmy already on the UNH roster, there was a push for Andy to follow in big brother’s footsteps. He made his decision and decided to follow the family tradition of being a UNH Wildcat.
“I knew that UNH would be a good choice,” Vailas said.
When he first came to campus as a freshman, he did not expect to be a quarterback but head coach Sean McDonnell saw the piece he needed to his offensive puzzle, a dual threat quarterback.
Vailas came into UNH having only played two years of quarterback before college but felt comfortable within the system.
“I fall into that role [of mobile quarterback] and having the speed to run around and throw,” Vailas said. “We do a lot of reads and options so you have to be quick.”
As a starting quarterback, Vailas has posted a record of 9-5 with 2,200 total yards and 27 touchdowns in his college career.
Although football is very much a part of life for Vailas, the world beyond college is approaching quickly.