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Shinskie BC’s old standby

Quarterback stays ready if needed

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / September 29, 2011

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He may go down as just a footnote in Boston College history. The oldest quarterback to ever play at The Heights.

Or he may get another chance as a prime-time player.

If it comes, Dave Shinskie says, he will be ready. More than ready. He will be eager to prove that, in the end, he made the right decision to resume his football career at the age of 25 after a six-year stint as a minor league baseball pitcher, most recently with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Currently, Shinskie’s role is a secondary one. He is the backup to Chase Rettig for Saturday’s game against Wake Forest.

On campus, he has a different role.

“I’m the 27-year-old junior,’’ said Shinskie with a laugh. “They know who I am.’’

When Shinskie arrived at BC three summers ago, he had a different role. First-year head coach Frank Spaziani looked at a roster that didn’t have one quarterback with college experience. Shinskie was 25 and a veteran, a football version of Crash Davis who had never made it to The Show after six seasons.

He wanted something different and he wanted an education. BC provided both - the hard way. He got battered and bruised during his on-the-job training, and by the third game of last season, Spaziani decided to look toward the future through a younger prism. He went to Rettig, a true freshman.

(In what would have been Shinskie’s freshman year, 2003, Rettig was in fifth grade.)

Shinskie adjusted, as he has with many things in his life.

“My mind-set is that I’m one play away [from being the starter again],’’ he said. “That’s how I handle it. But I’m a team player. I always have been. I love the thrill of the game, even if I’m not playing.’’

Shinskie didn’t sulk when he was demoted. He didn’t withdraw into a shell.

“I’m an enthusiastic guy,’’ said Shinskie. “Enthusiasm is contagious. I try and get guys pumped up, even if I’m not playing. I like to think of myself as one of the guys that people can turn to, be a role model on the team. I’m a BC guy.’’

In high school in Pennsylvania, Shinskie was a four-year starter, an all-state quarterback who had led his team to a 41-6 record and thrown for 6,334 yards. In his senior season, he threw for 2,524 yards and 26 touchdowns.

“I came out and it was the year of the quarterback,’’ said Shinskie. “It was Drew Tate, Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, it was Joe Flacco. I think Matt Ryan came out in that year.

“I was going to Delaware. I had a chance to go to Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, or Indiana. I chose Delaware because that was the best spot for me and they were going to let me play baseball.’’

Shinskie gave baseball six years, but it didn’t get him to the major leagues. So he switched to football. In a perfect world, he could have been another Chris Weinke, who played in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before going on to win the Heisman Trophy at Florida State. He could have been a Brandon Weeden, who may win the Heisman at Oklahoma State this season. He, too, had a stint in baseball before college.

“Sometimes I play the ‘what if’ game,’’ said Shinskie. “But my life has been great. Just to get a chance to play against Florida State and win. Just to get a chance to play at Notre Dame and take the team down to the final minute.

“Things like that you can never take away. That’s why I don’t play the ‘what if’ game very much.’’

Shinskie, who lives in an off-campus apartment, likes his role and likes his life.

“It’s funny,’’ he said. “You see some guys come to college and they are so full of themselves. They learn real quick that college football is not high school football.

“I’m an older guy. I could easily be someone who doesn’t talk to these guys. But I’m not. I’m a guy that wants the best in every player. I’m a guy who believes everyone should have a chance to show what they can do.

“I don’t have any problems getting high-fived by people around campus. It’s a great vibe, especially inside the locker room.’’

Asked what the goal is now, in terms of a career and football, Shinskie said, “I like to live life one step at a time. I hope I can make it to a combine and show what I can do.

“If it doesn’t work out, I’ll have a degree in human development and communications. I know a lot of people. Coaching and teaching is what I’d like to do in the future.’’

Shinskie, who came in for mopup duty in the final minutes against UMass last week, says he appreciates the opportunity BC gave him. BC appreciates it right back.

“It’s one of the better stories in terms of attitude,’’ said Spaziani. “He’s just a great kid. He had so many opportunities to turn sour, but he didn’t.’’

“The coaches tell me all the time how much they appreciate me,’’ said Shinskie. “I appreciate them. Me and the coaching staff are tight. We smile, we joke, we laugh.

“At the same time, I know what I have to do. It’s serious. I just have to work hard every day. Hopefully, one day I will get a chance to win the starting job again. If I get that chance, I will be ready.’’

Montel Harris is penciled in as the starting running back against Wake Forest. Spaziani said Harris’s surgically repaired left knee showed no ill effects after his season debut last week against UMass . . . Offensive guard Nathan Richman (back), as expected, was dropped off the depth chart this week . . . Also missing was defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey (foot).

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at