The first words out of West Roxbury (Mass.) Catholic Memorial coach Alex Campea's mouth when describing his quarterback, A.J. Doyle, are aggressive and tough. Those might not be the first words that come to mind when most fans think of the prototypical signal caller, but Doyle is anything but that as he will be starting under center, as well as playing linebacker - his projected position at the next level - during his senior campaign.
"He's a two-year captain at Catholic Memorial, he's been a varsity player for four years, which is unusual here," Campea said. "Next year will be his third as the starting quarterback and, defensively, he's play some outside linebacker, some strong safety. He's a big, strong, physical kid.
"When I get mad at him, it's usually because of the fact that it's the first quarter and, instead of picking up the first down and running out of bounds, he'll stay in bounds trying to steam roll the defensive back that's trying to put a licking on him. He's usually the one that puts a licking on the defensive player. My point is that he's a fearless young man who likes to compete, which is terrific to have."
The three-star player checks in at 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds. Since he is a prep quarterback, he will obviously been to elude comparisons to the Pack's current starting linebacker Audie Cole. Coming out of high school, Cole was regarded as a two-star quarterback by Rivals.com while checking in at 6-5 and 204 pounds.
The duo also have similar speed - Cole has been timed at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash while Doyle runs in the 4.8 range - and fans certainly wouldn't complain if coach Tom O'Brien and his staff unearthed another linebacker gem hidden at the quarterback position. Cole, who now checks in at 239 pounds, has at least tied for the team lead in tackles in each of the past two years and will be moving to middle linebacker, where position coach Jon Tenuta likes to stick his best player, for his redshirt senior season.
"I just continued to tell him to keep all of his options open [and not rule anyone out because they wanted to change his position]," Campea said. "He's actually gone down and visited NC State on a couple of occasions at different times and he was impressed by the facility obviously. We have some history with Coach O'Brien from his time in Boston, he's always run a first-class operation, along with Coach [Jerry] Petercuskie, who I know real well, and Coach [Dana] Bible, who I know real well. I know they do a great job coaching their kids so I have the utmost respect for the coaching staff. It's an opportunity that A.J. is really looking forward to."
Doyle is not only willing to play on defense, in addition to his duties as the starting quarterback, but he's even pressing his coach for the opportunity to contribute on special teams as a kick returner. Campea said he won't put his star in that position because the kid needs a chance to get water at some point during the game, but he doesn't doubt the kid, who has also played three years of varsity basketball and contributed to one of the best baseball programs in the state, could do it.
"He's got good football instincts overall, there's no questioning his toughness and his willingness to be out there competing," the coach said. "I use that word often, as do a lot of coaches. I tell my kid, 'just get out there and compete.' We encourage our athletes to compete in a lot of sports. I say, 'you're an athlete, be an athlete, compete in all sports.'
"He looks forward to that chance to compete and he's a good leader, being a two-year captain. It was an easy decision for A.J. He wants an opportunity to be on the field, to be a football player and to compete. He'll do a great job at that in North Carolina."
Although Doyle did give up baseball this past year in order to have the time in his schedule to compete at numerous recruiting showcases and combines, in addition to college camps, it was simply because he didn't want to be the one that let his baseball teammates down. However hard it may have been, the decision has paid off and Doyle will get the opportunity to play college football in a BCS conference.
"I think it was his burning desire," Campea said of playing in a top-tier conference like the ACC. "In my opinion, he's a quality quarterback - he had some division I scholarships as a quarterback but he really just wanted an opportunity to play at the highest level, be it on the offensive or the defensive side of the ball. NC State is giving him that opportunity, he's going to take that opportunity and run with it.
"He's been one of those guys that when we have our lifting days, A.J. is lifting and working out with the linemen. He's not afraid to go in there and compete in the weight room with those guys, keep in mind he's a legit 6-3, 225. He's already got the framework in place to be playing the position he's slated for in college."
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