Mike McCurdy is a Penn sprint football legend. He's the program’s all-time passing yardage leader, a two-time Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) MVP and a CSFL Champion.
McCurdy’s legacy is undeniable of course. But there is a difference between “undeniable” and “irreplaceable,” a distinction that Eddie Jenkins and the 2017 Penn sprint football team seek to emphasize.
A sophomore from Pittsburgh, Jenkins knows, as the cliche goes, that he has big shoes to fill as the team's new starting quarterback. But fortunately for the entire Penn sprint football program, Jenkins has no wishes to shy away from the challenge.
“I’m motivated, just trying to live up to what [McCurdy] accomplished, but I’m also trying to blaze my own trail,” Jenkins said.
And blaze a trail he has.
Through his first two contests, Jenkins has been absolutely electric for the Quakers, throwing for 383 yards, running for 162 more, and scoring six total touchdowns in the process. In total, his 545 yards of offense lead the next closest CSFL player by 138 yards.
The impressive stat line may surprise those who expected a steeper drop-off after the graduation of McCurdy, but coach Bill Wagner isn’t the least bit shocked.
“I think the team, as well as the coaching staff, knew about Eddie’s abilities and potential,” Wagner said. “He didn’t get too much time last year, coming in behind an all-league, MVP with McCurdy…. but when he did get called upon, he answered the bell.”
Unlike his predecessor, who preferred to stay in the pocket, Jenkins is a true dual threat, keeping opponents on their heels all game long.
“He not only has great speed and a knack for running the ball, but he can really throw the ball as well,” Wagner said.
Unsurprisingly, Jenkins’ advanced running abilities stem from his youth football days.
“My very first year playing football, I started out as a running back,” Jenkins said. “But our starting quarterback got hurt before the season started, so then I went in at quarterback, and it’s history from there.”
Speaking of history, Jenkins is not only placed in the unenviable position of succeeding a legendary player, but he also must now take the reigns of a team attempting to repeat as undefeated national champions.
Jenkins, though, is confident both in himself and his teammates, and is unwilling to back down from these challenges.
“I think, compared to last year’s historic team, we’re right on par this year,” Jenkins said. “Our offense looks fantastic in practice going up against one of the best defenses in the league every week, and the defense is looking great too. Hopefully both groups just continue to make each other better, and then we’ll be in really good shape.”
As much as football is a team game and Jenkins would like to share the praise with and attribute the successes to his teammates — whom he mentions often — all eyes are on the quarterback, especially when he is tasked with building a dynasty in the wake of a legend.
With the increased attention comes increased pressure, but if Wagner is correct in his evaluations of the sophomore's character and abilities, Jenkins will be just fine.
“Following in the footsteps of McCurdy is not what we’re trying to do. McCurdy’s records and passing accomplishments may never be reached, but Eddie is different kind of player,” Wagner said. “I think that Eddie is going to set his own little legend of what he’s going to be.”
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