Last season as a freshman Geoff Wade didn’t take any snaps. He didn’t even travel for away games.
Then on Oct. 15, in his third start at the college level, the sophomore quarterback for Holy Cross led the Crusaders to a 27-17 win over Harvard, at the time ranked No. 20 in FCS.
Wade took over as the Holy Cross quarterback in the second quarter on Sept. 24 against Dartmouth when Peter Pujals, a Patriot League preseason all-league player, injured his ankle.
Wade then started against Lafayette, Bucknell and Harvard and is slated to be under center when the Crusaders (3-4, 1-1) host Lehigh (5-2, 2-0) on Saturday on ASN in a league contest.
“We have a really talented offense. When Peter went down and I took over coach (Tom Gilmore) said it was my job to be the point guard and get the ball into the hands of our playmakers,” Wade said. “It has been awesome to take some snaps this year and play.”
Wade has done more than that. He has played in four games, with three starts, and is 52 of 79 with two interceptions and five touchdowns. All-league wideout Brendan Flaherty caught eight of his passes against Harvard.
Pujals is 111-of-175 passing with five interceptions and 10 touchdowns this year. His return is uncertain, athletic media relations director Chares Bare said Wednesday.
“I was really impressed with Wade,” Lehigh coach Andy Coen said Thursday. “He has done a really nice job. I think their offense is where they want it to be. I have been really pleased with how our defense has improved week by week.”
Along the way Wade has gotten help from senior Pujals, who threw for 3,195 yards and 28 touchdowns last season.
“Peter has been unbelievably helpful. He is pretty much a coach on the sidelines,” said Wade, adding he will watch film with Pujals.
Wade also gives a lot of credit to Brian Rock, the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Rock is in his second year at Holy Cross and last year the Crusaders led the Patriot League in passing yards per game at 295.7.
“The best I have been around when it comes to offensive game plan,” Wade said. “Zero turnovers has really been our goal.”
Wade played at St. Sebastian’s School and he is from Needham, Mass., just southwest of Boston, and was all-Independent School League and All-New England honors as a senior.
Wade passed for 1,957 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 347 yards during his prep career. He helped his school win titles in 2012 and 2014 in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council.
The Holy Cross sophomore comes from an athletic family, as his father, Geoffrey, was on the football and track teams at Dartmouth while his mother, Meg, was on the basketball team. His father, who threw the javelin in college, coached him in youth football and his mother was a willing practice receiver for his throws.
“Coming out of high school I was pretty open minded,” said Wade, who also looked at Ivy League schools. “I never guessed I would have come to Holy Cross.”
But after taking part in a camp at the school he was impressed with the coaches and fellow student-athletes.
Holy Cross has played three ranked teams this year.
The Crusaders lost to then No. 24 New Hampshire on the road Sept. 10, then lost the following week on the road at then-No. 25 Albany.
Lehigh last season won in a shootout at home, beating the Crusaders, 51-38. This year Wade hopes to come out on top on family weekend in the last home game of the season.
“I am really going practice by practice,” said Wade, listed at 6-2, 207 pounds. “I am treating practice and every game like I am going to play. It is the next man up mentality.”
Photo courtesy Holy Cross Athletics