• 59°

SALISBURY — We’ve all learned that destiny, much like a good fastball, rarely travels in a straight line.
Danny O’Brien is living proof.

What a long, strange trip its been for Catawba’s starting quarterback. Technically a fifth-year senior, O’Brien’s journey has meshed success with failure, elation with disappointment and pain with pleasure. It’s taken him from East Forsyth High School to the University of Maryland — where he earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors in 2010 — then on to Big 10 power Wisconsin and finally to Salisbury.
“It’s quite a story,” offensive co-ordinator Kevin Brown said Saturday night at Alumni Stadium, where O’Brien passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns in a lopsided win against Livingstone. “He’s had five different offensive coaches the past five years. But he never got down with all those changes. He just kept plugging away.”
There O’Brien was again last night — this chisled, 6-foot-3, 220-pound windfall that’s help fuel Catawba’s 2-0 start. Already a college graduate, Division II may not have been his preferred destination. But his breakout performance against the Blue Bears was like the difference between declaring “I’m Here” and broadcasting to the world “Here I Am!”
“I live an hour away, but I’ve been all over,” O’Brien said after completing 20 of 24 passes. “You could call it full circle. I came back to be close to my family and the community where I grew up. After I left Wisconsin I knew I had to go D-2 because you can’t transfer twice between Division I schools. It came down to Catawba and Wingate and I am so happy I landed here.”
So are his teammates and family members. Catawba has faced instability at the QB position in recent years, first with ex-North Carolina starter Cam Sexton and last year with former Illinois triggerman Jacob Charest. O’Brien may be a one-year rental enjoying his final year of eligibility, but he’s clearly enjoying it.
“I’ve never seen him this relaxed,” said Matt O’Brien, Danny’s father who drove down from Kernersville to watch the game. “But I see what’s going on. The Division I coaching egos are out of the picture and he’s just kicking back and firing strikes.”
O’Brien has done that for the past three seasons. As a redshirt freshman for Ralph Friedgen’s 2010 bowl-winning Maryland squad he spiraled touchdown passes on three of his first four collegiate attempts. A year later he tossed seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions before breaking an arm against Notre Dame. That prompted a transfer to Wisconsin — he also entertained offers from Penn State, Old Miss and Florida — where he appeared in seven games as a high-profile backup and completed 60.5 percent of his passes last autumn.
“I started the first three games at Wisconsin,” O’Brien noted. “But the offense stalled out and we just started rotating quarterbacks. I was gonna stay there, honestly, but a new staff came in and brought in a juco guy they really liked. They told me I wasn’t going to get a legitimate chance to compete.”
That opened the door for Catawba and Brown, who years ago recruited O’Brien for Coastal Carolina. “I’ve had my eyes on him since he was a (high school) sophomore,” Brown indicated.
O’Brien visited Catawba one afternoon this summer and threw a few passes to future teammates. “It became an easy choice,” he said. “I felt like I’d be a good fit here.”
He certainly has. In a Week 1 triumph over West Liberty O’Brien ran for 51 yards, passed for 189 and hit wideout Nate Charest for a second-period TD. Yesterday he connected with Charest, Carlos Tarrats and David Burgess on touchdown plays.
“He knows when to put touch on the ball and when to zip it in fast,” Charest said. “That’s what Division I quarterbacks do. They’ll never leave you out to dry.”
Catawba is betting on that.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Salisbury man charged with exploitation of minor

Crime

Road rage incident results in assault charges

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed

Education

Faith Academy interviewing staff, preparing site for fall opening

News

Volunteers work around obstacles, alter procedures to offer free tax services to those in need

Education

Education shoutouts

Local

Retired Marine gets recognition for toy collection efforts

Local

March issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Education

Five get Dunbar School Heritage Scholarships

Education

Education briefs: Salisbury Academy fourth-graders think big as inventors

Education

Bakari Sellers keynote speaker at Livingstone College Founder’s Day program

Nation/World

Biden aims to distribute masks to millions in ‘equity’ push

Nation/World

Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Nation/World

GOP rallies solidly against Democrats’ virus relief package

Nation/World

FDA says single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson prevents severe COVID

High School

Coaches, lawmakers react to governor’s order expanding sporting event capacity

Coronavirus

Three new COVID-19 deaths, positives remain below triple digits

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces end to curfew, changes to restrictions affecting bars, high school sports

Crime

Blotter: Two charged after call about package

Crime

Salisbury Police investigating two shootings

Crime

Chase involving Kernersville man ends in woods behind Carson High School

News Main

North Rowan girls end season with playoff loss to Murphy

Education

Rowan-Salisbury EC department plunges in place after raising $1,300 for Special Olympics

Nation/World

Tiger Woods injured in car crash, has surgery on legs