If there is one word that must sum up senior QB Michael Colvin, it must be "patience."
"My goal this year is to be the starting quarterback,"he said to Michael LoRe of the Express-Times two Augusts ago. "If I don’t and we decide to do Wildcat stuff, I’ll do my best to help the team. But my goal is to be the starter and it has been and will be this year, next year and the year after that."
After a terrible leg injury midway through his freshman season, and two years playing part-time Wildcat formation specialist behind Payton Award finalist QB Chris Lum, Mike finally reached his goal.
To be "the man" at QB for the Mountain Hawks.
When I talked to head coach Andy Coen at media day, he went to pains to point out to me that Mike wouldn't simply be handed the job, noting that he was looking forward to junior QB Brandon Bialkowski competing against the Morristown, NJ native in the preseason.
That was after a spring season where Colvin had done very well, and gotten some high praise from Coen for his preparation for the spring season.
"He has done a really good job," Lehigh coach Andy Coen said. "He has played a lot and been on the field, but we're seeing some things from him now that we didn't see last year. He has been a much better student of the game, a better decision-maker, and a more accurate thrower. The decision-making ability and the accuracy throwing the ball are the two things we really needed to see and so far I have been very pleased.
“He’s been in the fire; he’s been on the field in a lot of games. He’s thrown TD passes, he’s thrown interceptions and he’s scored touchdowns. Nothing should be real new for him when he gets out there.”
"Even in the weight room it was important for me to show that I was going to be the hardest worker and that this was very important to me," Colvin said. "I wanted to show them I could step into the role.
“I know in practice when I make a couple of good throws or good plays it starts building and the confidence is the most important thing for me,” Colvin said. “I have to go into every play confident knowing I can execute. It’s going to be great to have that rhythm build with every series and every down.”
But the spring game wasn't exactly a coming-out party for Mike, with three interceptions, including a 91 yard interception return for a touchdown from senior CB Courtney Jarvis that didn't exactly make it a foregone conclusion that he would be the starter, despite being named a team captain for the 2012 season.
Like everything thrown Mike's way in a brown and white uniform, it only appeared to make him redouble his efforts to become the starting quarterback.
After Colvin broke his leg against Bucknell his freshman year as a "Wildcat" run-first, pass-second situational QB, some folks might have called it a career. But not Mike. He went through "big-time" surgery and rehabilitation, and was ready to contribute as a sophomore.
After Colvin fell behind the most prolific passer to come out of Lehigh in recent memory, some folks might have said "that's it", and either quit or transferred. But not Mike. He kept up his "Wildcat" role in the offense while Lum set the passing records in front of him on the depth chart.
From the first day of camp, it was clear he was oozing confidence and was well-prepared, which was obvious from video of the first night.
“I was really impressed by Mike, I thought he had a great night,” Coen said. He threw the ball well and made good decisions. The other three guys got reps as well, we’re not in a hurry to anoint a starter. I want there to be some competition, but Mike had a good night.”A lot is made of the words "senior leadership" in football, but you can tell from the very first interview that he seemed to have it, and was comfortable talking for the team and leading the team.
"It feels good after a long summer of training," Colvin said, "all the throwing and preparation for tonight, going against the first team defense. It was important for us to come out here, maintain that focus, and compete out here for that amount of time. That's what it's like during a long game during the season."
As the preseason went along, it continued to be even more clear that Mike was continuing to have good days in practice, including scrimmage #1.
“Offensively the passing game looked pretty crisp today,” Coen said. “Mike Colvin had a really good day. I’ve known for a long time he throws a great deep ball and he showed that today. That’s real important to us. We want to have that explosive capability and Mike continued to do that.”
"The offense in particular needs to be very consistent in order to play at the level we're expecting to be at," Mike said. "As leaders and captains we need to make sure we put our team in position to win. If we can get consistent with the players we have out there now, and then once we get the guys who are injured back, we should be good."
It was clear from the footage that he was a far cry from the run-first QB he was expected to be the last three years, with the practice footage showing Mike showing off his arm strength with a strong-armed pass for a touchdown. His transformation to becoming succesful drop-back passer seemed like it was going well. Very well.
Things were going so good with Mike that after the second practice today, he was anointed the starter.
“Mike has played well throughout camp,” Coen said. “He played well in Friday’s scrimmage and did well again today. Over the last two years he’s had a role, but Chris (Lum) took most of the reps in practice. Mike made big strides in spring ball and has continued to do so here in camp. He’s a big, strong athlete with a great arm. He can make all the throws. I’m excited to see him play.”
And he talked with the Express-Times' Michael LoRe as well after practice today:
"As a senior it was something I really wanted to do and really wanted to accomplish and I tried to put myself in the best situation since spring ball to be named the starter and earn the trust of the head coach, offensive coordinator, all the other assistant coaches and most of all, all of our players," Colvin said after Lehigh's scrimmage this afternoon. "It’s absolutely rewarding but there’s a lot of work to be done. I've been preparing for it and I’m happy I've achieved it. It’s a small goal because the goal is to win football games and ultimately a championship."
By any measure, Mike has worked very, very hard to get this opportunity.
And Lehigh fans are very much looking forward to what Colvin will do with the chance given to him, ten days from now in the home opener against Monmouth, from all his hard work.