When he was a freshman, Eric Theiss set a goal to go to the University of Maine to play football.
After four years of hard work and a lot of success at Leavitt, Theiss is going to realize that goal.
Theiss, the quarterback who led Leavitt to the Class B state football title last fall, will enroll at Maine and join the Black Bears as a preferred walk on, meaning he is on the team and has been invited to fall practice, but has not been offered a scholarship.
Theiss considered Sacred Heart in Connecticut and Plymouth State in New Hampshire, but after having talked to head coach Jack Cosgrove, he is anxious to become the latest Hornet to contribute to the Black Bears at some point as a quarterback.
“He said he’s excited to have me and he’s looking forward to the future and looking forward to me representing the school. I’m looking forward to that, too,” he said. “It’s a good position for me.”
A Sun Journal all-region quarterback the last two years, Theiss was one of the top double threats in the state at the quarterback position. He accounted for more than 2,100 yards total offense and 26 touchdowns (12 passing, 14 rushing) while running the Hornets’ spread option offense.
“I think playing in the spread helps him a little,” said Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway, who has seen two of his players, Jon Pirruccello and Doug Nash, from his eight-year tenure at Leavitt suit up for the Black Bears. “He’s making decisions at the snap of the football. He’s not just turning around and handing the football off or just dropping back and throwing it up to one guy. He’s got to drop back and make his reads (in the passing game) or make his reads in the option. I think it will help him a little bit going up there and making that transition because you’ve got a lot going on when you play quarterback at that level.”
Pirruccello went from walk-on to two-year starting nose tackle. Nash is a freshman defensive lineman expected to see some playing time next fall. Theiss has picked their brains and those of other Black Bears to get an idea of what to expect.
“Doug said it’s hard, and I told him that’s what I’m expecting, and he said ‘You get used to it and it’s just a way of life out there,’ which is what I’m looking for,” Theiss said. “I guess I don’t know what I’m getting myself into, but I’ve heard fromt he players up there that all you can do is school and football, so that’s what I’m looking for.”
Theiss has already begun preparing himself for training camp.
“I’ve got to lift and run, mostly lift. I’m looking to get up to about 195, 200 pounds,” said Theiss, who added 15 pounds to his frame between his junior and senior year at Leavitt to get up to his current 185. “It’s going to be hard, but I can do it.”
“I think he’ll do well,” Hathaway said. “Number one, he’s serious about it. He wants to put the time in and work at it. When you talk about Divison I football, that’s a full-time job and you’ve certainly got to want to do it and have a lot of passion for football. Over the years, as Jack has recruited some of our guys, I think what they’re looking for is guys who have a passion for the game. I think Eric fits that bill.”
Maine is currently loaded at quarterback, with Warren Smith and Portland’s Chris Treister expected to battle for the starting spot as juniors. The roster also includes current freshmen John Ebeling and Marcus Wasilewski. Two other quarterbacks, Arron Achey and Jackson Taylor of Windham, have signed national letters of intent to play at Maine.
Cosgrove could not be reached for comment. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on players until they have paid a deposit to the school.
Theiss is one of six members of the unbeaten Hornets squad who is expected to play college football next fall. Matt Pellerin, Mitch Cobb and Luke Wiley are headed to Maine Maritime and Mat Porter to Plymouth State, while Josh Strickland is currently considering Dean Junior College in Massachusetts, according to Hathaway.