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In Transfer Morgan Mahalak, Towson Hopes To Find Quarterback Stability

August 15, 2016
Head coach: Rob Ambrose (eighth season)
2015 Record: 5-3 (CAA); 7-4 (overall)
Key Returners: RB Darius Victor, RB Shane Simpson, OL Antonio Harris, LB Eric Handy
Key games: Sept. 3 at South Florida; Oct. 1 at Richmond; Oct. 22 vs. New Hampshire; Oct. 29 at Delaware

Towson head football coach Rob Ambrose has been closely attached to the quarterback position through most of his football career -- as a player, quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and head coach. In his eight seasons as the head coach at Towson, Ambrose has had mixed results in recruiting an elite quarterback to take the helm of the Tigers' offense. 

Towson made a big splash this offseason when it signed transfer quarterback Morgan Mahalak, a redshirt sophomore from the University of Oregon. The former consensus four-star recruit out of Kentfield, Calif., was once believed, by some on the West Coast, to be the man who would take over at Oregon for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. 

Ambrose said his recruiting process centers on personal relationships he's made across the country. According to the Towson coach, the program sifted through several Football Bowl Subdivision transfer prospects before landing on Mahalak.

"In the land of the elite quarterbacks, it's a small, small world," Ambrose said. "We had let people know a while ago that we were looking for a [FBS] transfer. And we turned down a lot of them. ... Guys that either talent-wise or whose skill sets or personalities made them just not the right fit for the program."

This will be a significant year for Mahalak and the Tigers, as their last quarterback transfer attempt failed before it even got started. Last season, Towson attempted to add FBS transfer and former University of Miami prospect Kevin Olsen. After being dismissed by the Hurricanes for multiple disciplinary incidents, Olsen was later dismissed by Towson -- before ever stepping on the field.

Mahalak comes to Towson without that type of baggage. Ambrose believes, this time, the Tigers have found the right fit.

"It's almost like dating," Ambrose said. "When you go to start dating your wife, it's interesting how those first couple conversations are ‘home run' conversations without even trying to be. And it's more that natural feel between two individuals. That's kind of how it went."

Lining up behind Mahalak will be senior running back Darius Victor. The Tigers' bell cow had to shake off several injuries from his junior year, including an ankle injury which lingered through the majority of the 2015 season. Victor will have an opportunity to play behind an offensive line that has recovered from several of its own injury issues. The silver lining, according to Ambrose, is that the multitude of injuries in 2015 has allowed the Towson backups to gain in-game experience. So they should be ready to go this fall.

"I'm not worried at all; I'm more excited," Ambrose said. "To have a healthy Victor at running back, behind an offensive line with eight or nine guys who have started in games -- 13 to 15 guys who have played in games. They're all older; they're not 17 or 18 anymore. They're 20 or 21, and there's a big difference from 17 to 21. We grow up. As a running back, you would like to play behind an experienced offensive line, and [Victor's] going to have the opportunity to do that."

The Tigers open the season at the University of South Florida Sept. 3.

Issue 224: August 2016