Mike Callahan waited five years to make that one phone call.
Once the fifth-year William and Mary senior stepped out of the locker room following Monday morning’s practice, he called his father in Pennsylvania and delivered the news. Callahan will be the starting quarterback for the season-opener Saturday afternoon at Massachusetts.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Callahan, whose last playing time came as a senior at Hempfield High School in 2005. ”I can’t tell you how much I’ve looked forward to this. I’ve gotten a little taste of it, but the real thing is going to be real sweet.”
Callahan’s experience with the offense and quick decision-making made him the top candidate, Tribe football coach Jimmye Laycock said.
“He really understands our offense, understands our thinking and our reasons for doing things,” Laycock said. “He’s done a good job this preseason running our offense.”
Callahan beat out junior Mike Paulus and redshirt freshman Brent Caprio for the job. The 6-foot-4 Paulus, a one-time high school all-American, was considered one of the favorites after he transferred from North Carolina this spring.
“It was a lot of competition and the guys worked real hard,” Callahan said. “I’m just excited to get this season started.”
After all, he’s been waiting since high school to play again. In two years as the starting quarterback at Hempfield, Callahan passed for a school-record 4,159 yards and 44 touchdowns.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior spent his first three years in Williamsburg as a reserve quarterback before climbing to second on the depth chart behind R.J. Archer last summer. One week before the season-opener at Virginia, Callahan tore the ACL in his right knee. Just like that, his season was over.
“That was probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to go through in my life,” Callahan said.
Rehabilitating the damaged knee was no picnic for Callahan. He’d show up to the trainer’s room an hour in the morning, come back after lunch and once more before practice.
“I was definitely annoying the hell out of these trainers,” Callahan said. “There’s really not much else you can do. You can’t go out there [and practice]. You just focus on getting your knee back to the proper health and play.”
One year has passed since the lowest moment of Callahan’s career. Monday’s announcement was one of the best.
“It’s been a long road,” Callahan said. “The opportunity finally arose and I am just glad I was able to capitalize on it.”