Edward Little’s Grant Hartley takes off from Lewiston’s Garrett Poussard during Friday night’s Battle of the Bridge football game at Garcelon Field at Bates College.
Grant Hartley had several other options, but the opportunity to play football at the University of Maine was too good to pass up.
On social media Sunday night during the Super Bowl, Hartley, a senior at Edward Little, announced he has committed to the state’s school and only Football Championship Subdivision program as a preferred walk-on for the coming fall.
While he’s committed to Maine, and will make it official when he signs his National Letter of Intent in the high school’s library at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Hartley’s options won’t disappear once in Orono.
The 2017 Class A North first-team all-star at quarterback and punter, Hartley hopes to earn a spot on the roster, and ultimately a full scholarship, as a quarterback. But Black Bears head coach Joe Harasymiak and his staff told him punter or possibly even tight end could be in the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Hartley’s future.
“Basically, my job is to earn the scholarship,” said Hartley, who has played QB since seventh grade and was the Red Eddies’ starting QB the last two years.
Hartley made the decision after making his official visit the last weekend of January. He had also visited Merrimack University, which is currently weighing elevating from Division II to Division I status for all of its sports.
Norwich University also recruited Hartley, who also drew interest to play baseball from University of Southern Maine, St. Joseph’s College and several other schools.
“It was stressful, but at the same time, I was grateful to have all of those options,” he said.
He ultimately decided a football career at Maine while enrolled in the mechanical engineering program there was the best path to his ultimate career goal.
“I know they have a really good mechanical engineering school, and I thought the program and the conference are great. It was the best option to grow as a person, a student and a player,” he said.
Hartley, who also plays baseball and basketball, said he ultimately plans to follow the family path into coaching and hopes coaching college football is in his future.
Hartley made channels with Maine through the states high school and college football coaching fraternity. His father, Darren, who enrolled at Maine for five semesters out of prep school, coached at Edward Little and Lewiston, and Grant credited coaches such as Skip Capone and Chris Kempton with helping him get the attention of Harasymiak and his staff.
Maine coaches invited him to attend their overnight football camp for recruits last summer and invited him back for another skills camp. They watched him lead the Red Eddies to a 36-0 win over Massabesic, and Hartley attended three Maine games, including their appearances at Fitzpatrick Stadium and Fenway Park.
NCAA rules prohibit Maine coaches from commenting on recruits before they have signed their letter of intent, but Hartley believes a year in the Black Bears’ system and the weight room could have him ready to compete for a spot on the roster as a QB. Maine currently has four quarterbacks under scholarship.
Hartley led Class A North in all passing categories, completing 53.6 percent of his passes (74-for-138) with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed 63 times for 256 yards and six touchdowns.
The stats were impressive enough, but Hartley and EL coach Dave Sterling agreed it was his ability to control and manage a game this season that not only was the key to leading the Eddies to a 7-2 record and a spot in the regional semifinals, but demonstrated that he was capable of handling a college-style option.
“Maine is a great fit because he showed he could handle zone reads and RPOs (run-pass options),” Sterling said. “His ability to control the game, which was something that came through in seven-on-seven last summer. We worked on situations and Grant really showed some development … in making assured throws.”
“Going to those summer camps at Orono and also playing in those seven-on-sevens really helped me learn how to control the game,” Hartley said. “I really knew everything about the offense this season. Coach Sterling and I were always on the same page.”