When his career started, Alex George appeared to be headed for a long, successful run as Wilkes’ quarterback.
In his first game as a freshman, he came on in relief, leading the Colonels to a come-from-behind victory with 29 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and overtime in 2010. That victory was also the one that gave head coach Frank Sheptock the honor of being the winningest coach in school history.
After that, George saw playing time off and on as starting QB, including helping Sheptock get win No. 100 last season in similar fashion to the previous historic win.
He took sporadic playing time in stride until moving to tight end this season and earning a starting role that he gladly accepted to help the team improve. He’s the third-leading receiver on the squad with 10 receptions this season, but he’s had a big impact blocking as the Colonels have piled up 1,521 rushing yards, the fifth-most in the MAC.
“It’s definitely different,” George said about the transition. “I played quarterback my whole life and didn’t have any experience playing anywhere else. But I’ve always been physical, so the blocking wasn’t a problem. As a quarterback, you have to know the blocking schemes. I think the hardest part was learning to run routes.”
In the past, George was splitting time at quarterback with Tyler Berntsen. To get more consistency from the position, Sheptock approached George about moving to tight end because George was a playmaker on special teams before becoming a weapon at quarterback. He returned punts and kicks, and even made game-changing tackles.
“I think that defines who Alex George is, where he’s always willing to do whatever it took for him to help the football team win or for him to get on the field,” Sheptock said. “When he came in, he very quickly gave us personality that our team would be because there was a toughness and a willingness to do whatever the team needed him to do. That very much has sustained him through his career here.”
Even when Berntsen went down with a season-ending injury in Week 3, George was committed to play at tight end and didn’t approach Sheptock about returning to QB.
Instead, freshman Taylor Young took over. Young has had some growing pains this season, but has also had some signature moments, with more likely to come throughout his career.
“We had the conversation of that if we make the conversion to tight end, that’s it,” George added. “I had confidence in Taylor and that he could get the job done — and he has. I’ve never had any doubt that he can do that.”
George and the rest of the Wilkes seniors might feel like they have some unfinished business this afternoon when they face King’s at McCarthy Stadium in the Mayor’s Cup.
When they were freshmen, they ended with a 6-5 record, a spot in an ECAC bowl game and plenty of optimism. But the Colonels haven’t been back since. With a win today and a four-year sweep of their Wilkes-Barre city rival, that could make up for the past three seasons.
“It was definitely a goal of ours for the last three years, ever since freshman year,” George said about reaching the postseason. “We definitely had potential to do it and it just never quite came together like we wanted to, but we have Coach Shep’s records we get to look back on it.”