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Albany QB Vincent Testaverde ready to take best shot at Pitt

September 23, 2018
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University at Albany quarterback Vincent Testaverde practices with the football team on Thursday April 26, 2018 in Albany, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

The lights in Lubbock were bright on that November night four years ago, and Texas Tech quarterback Vincent Testaverde enjoyed their glow.

“Big Saturday night game, soldout crowd, nothing like it,” he said. “Looking back, it was an awesome experience.”

But he was only a third-string, walk-on freshman quarterback for the Red Raiders, and the lights quickly dimmed.

After he replaced an injured Patrick Mahomes, Testaverde completed 15 of 26 passes for 116 yards and an interception in a 34-13 loss to Texas. It was a taste of college football, but then it was gone -- for four years.

And now it’s back.

Testaverde, the son of 21-year NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde, transferred from Texas Tech to Miami where he spent the 2015 and ’16 seasons without getting in a game. But he’s found a home -- and a starting job -- with the FCS Albany Great Danes, who visit Heinz Field on Saturday to help open Pitt’s season.

“I can’t even describe it,” he said. “I’m ready to go, though.”

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi watched that Texas Tech-Texas game with interest this week, and he came away impressed with Testaverde, now 6-foot-1, 211 pounds (shorter and not as broad as his dad).

“He looked composed throwing the football, a really accurate quarterback,” Narduzzi said. “I think (Albany) got a quarterback who can hurt you throwing the ball. And I’m sure his dad taught him well in his youth.”

That’s true. The elder Testaverde, who retired in 2007 after playing for seven teams, was the offensive coordinator at Tampa Jesuit High School where his son was a two-time team MVP.

The first game for Testaverde is also the first time Albany has played a Power 5 team.

“Heckuva tough opener for a kid who hasn’t played in a couple of years,” said Albany coach Greg Gattuso, a former Pitt assistant and Duquesne head coach.

Testaverde landed in Albany, thanks in large part to Robert Morris coach Bernard Clark.

“He and my dad go way back,” Vincent said.

Clark, who played with the elder Testaverde at Miami, was the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator during Vincent’s two-year stay. He made a few phone calls when Vincent said he wanted to transfer, including one to Gattuso, who was more than pleased to add a strong arm to his roster. Testaverde enrolled last year and sat out the season as a transfer.

“All I was looking for was an opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t care if it was FBS or FCS. He told me I would get it, and I did.”

Testaverde won the job this summer over incumbent Will Brunson in what Gattuso described as a close call.

“He can make all the throws,” Gattuso said. “I hate to compare him to someone who played 21 years in the NFL. I don’t think that’s fair. That’s been done to him most of his life.

“He’s earned (the starting job). Where he was when we got him and where he is now is dramatically different.”

All this happened before Clark became the coach at Robert Morris, or Testaverde could have landed in Pittsburgh much earlier.

Finally settled, Testaverde can fall back on what he learned from his dad.

“He taught me every aspect of football that there is,” he said. “Footwork, ball placement, how to throw a certain route, read coverages, read blitzes. Just how to understand the game as a whole.”

He said he expects three pieces of advice from him before facing Pitt.

“Trust in my ability. Trust what I see. And don’t hesitate.”

The third one will be easy. “I’m juiced,” he said.

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