Versatility is an important skill to have, and it is even more valuable on the football field.
Penn sprint football is perhaps the team with the most versatility on campus, with multiple players succeeding at multiple positions. While this may lead to inconsistency in the lineup on a week-to-week — or even play-to-play — basis, the athletes' versatility plays an important role on the team. In theory, it sounds unconventional for a player to have several different positions, especially in a sport as physically demanding as football.
Much of the changes for the Quakers come out of necessity, where there is either not a spot for a player in his natural position or there is a need for more depth in another position. Before coming to Penn, senior Matteo Murgia had played linebacker throughout his career. However, during his freshman year at Penn, the team needed a tight end, so he moved over to the other side of the ball. However, he has still gotten playing time at his natural position.
“I just knew I had to block and open holes for the running back, and [I] did my job, and eventually an opportunity opened up for me at linebacker,” Murgia said. “I’m just wherever the team needs me the most and where I can contribute the most.”
Murgia was doing more than just filling a position; he was playing at a high level at both positions. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, he was an honorable mention for the All-Collegiate Sprint Football League at tight end and linebacker, respectively.
When juniors Barry Klein and Joshua Trybus joined the team as freshmen, they arrived as quarterbacks, with both expecting to get significant playing time. However now-senior quarterback Eddie Jenkins was already a mainstay at the position, and that was sure to be the case for the next few years.
“We always had Eddie as a quarterback, and Eddie was the MVP of the League in his sophomore year, so it really wasn’t a question on whether or not I was playing quarterback or not. So I tried to make myself effective in some other way,” Klein said.
Both Klein and Trybus have since made an impact at the wide receiver position. And recently, the team found a need for more depth at defensive back, so Trybus has also seen time there. Last season against Chestnut Hill, he started the game at wide receiver and had a 50-yard reception in the first half. In the second half, he switched to quarterback and threw for 126 yards with two touchdowns.
“It is definitely tough because you don’t get the breaks that some of the other people do, but it’s nice to keep me on the field and keep going at it with the rest of your team,” Trybus said.
While at times these changes happen in the middle of the game, the players are always prepared to adjust. Their preparation ahead of time makes the transition much easier.
“It all starts with our coaches and [the fact] that everyone sort of knows what you’re going to be doing, no matter what position you are,” Klein said. “ Everyone studies the film pretty hard, and they all know what everyone should be doing.”
Their versatility not only benefits the entire team, but it benefits them individually because playing one position gives them insight when they switch to another.
“When I used to play quarterback, it definitely helped me play on the defensive side a little bit, just knowing how to read some of the defenses and knowing where to be as a defensive guy,” Trybus said.
“If you play one position, it allows you to understand the field in another way, so if you’re looking at it from more than one perspective, it’s much easier,” Klein said.
These Quakers are not only accepting their roles, but they are thriving in them, which has been a vital part of the team’s construction and success.