Replacing Skelton: Who Fills the Ram Void at QB?


Published: May 5, 2010

Recently John Skelton, College of Business Administration (CBA) ’10, one of the most celebrated athletes in recent Fordham history moved on from the Atlantic 10, where he played for the Fordham Rams for four years, to the NFL where he will be with the Arizona Cardinals. The question of course back on campus is who steps into those oversized shoes he left on Jack Coffey Field. Who will start at quarterback for the Rams next year?

Blake Wayne, FCRH ’13 (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)

Among the options at this point, are a recent starter on the junior varsity team, a freshman who has never stepped foot in a college classroom and a sophomore who has little collegiate experience. Needless to say, none of these prospects have quite the resumé of Skelton, but as most of these players are sophomores or younger, no one knows yet what they’ll be able to build up over the course of their Fordham careers. One of these candidates for starting quarterback is James Avedesian, FCRH’13.

Joining a team with five sets of brothers, Avedesian came to Fordham in 2009 with his twin brother Daniel Avedesian, who also plays for the Rams as a linebacker. Coming from State College High School in State College, Pennsylvania,  Avedesian led his high school football team to a 12-8 record in 2008. Last year Avedesian played with the Junior Varsity team where he completed three of six attempts at the Junior Varsity level. Being a freshman he may be considered for the starting position this fall as four out of the five potential starting quarterbacks are currently freshmen. Aside from Avedesian Benjamin Heiser, FCRH’13, is also another candidate for the starting quarterback position.

Heiser is also a sophomore and,  at 6’5” and 231 pounds, is looking to state his case for starting next year for the Rams. Looking like a  seasoned colligate veteran, he is two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than his next closest competitor for the starting position. Also playing at the Junior Varsity level last year, Heiser completed three of five passes for a total of 53 yards, including one game where he went two for four for 36 yards and rushed for 25 yards on four attempts against Columbia. Yet Heiser is not alone in his hunt for the starting position Ryan Higgins, FCRH’13, hopes he can to make an impact for the Rams this coming fall.

Higgins in 2009 completed nine of 26 pass attempts for 111 yards at the Junior Varsity level, primarily accumulating those statistics in two appearances against Columbia and Wagner. Coming from Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York, he is also the only quarterback on the roster to come from within the boundaries of New York State. While at Chaminade High School he received the Oliver DeJesus Award as Chaminade’s MVP.

The oldest member in the bunch is Doug Papy FCRH ’12. Although playing entirely as a backup for Skelton, his college record includes three career passing attempts and one career completion for eight yards. Being the only quarterback with any college level experience, he may be a front runner for the Rams quarterback position simply because he’s participated in a college football game.

The newest quarterback thrown into the mix is Blake Wayne FCRH ’13. Transferring from Diablo Valley Community College to Fordham this spring semester, Wayne brings with him an impressive junior college level record which includes 209 of 354 passes for 2,527 yards and 18 touchdowns. However, since none of the rest of the other quarterbacks has more than a handful of varsity snaps under their belt, these statistics jump out and put him right in the middle of the quarterback race.

As many of these quarterbacks are so young, it is inevitable that some will question the team for having a young starting quarterback; however, it was not too long ago that John Skelton started his career here as a young freshman without any experience. Any of these players could, in three years, achieve the same accolades as Skelton, and it will only be a matter of time to see who takes over.

The Rams will begin their 111th season of Varsity football on Saturday, September 4th, when they travel to Rhode Island to take on Bryant University. Fordham is entering its 21st season as a member of the NCAA FCS Patriot League.