ORONO, Maine — Former John Bapst High School of Bangor standout Max Andrews is adapting to a new position on the University of Maine football team.
In addition to his duties as a tight end, the senior is battling sophomore Cody Levy for the starting right tackle spot.
“It has been a good transition,” the 6-foot-3, 268-pound Andrews said during a preseason practice Monday. “I was a heavier tight end. There hasn’t been much of a change — some calls here and there and some different techniques.
“It’s a good change. I like it,” said Andrews, who has appeared in 24 career games at tight end and on special teams.
He was limited to four games a year ago because of injury and said one of the biggest adjustments has been to wearing a particular type of knee brace used by interior lineman as opposed to tight ends, who run pass patterns from time to time.
“They’re hard to get used to,” said Andrews, who wore one during spring football.
The other noteworthy change is that a tackle is “always in the trenches.
“When you’re a tight end, you get to run some pass routes so you can take a little break from the trenches. But I’ll get used to it,” the Holden native said.
Maine head coach Joe Harasymiak and offensive coordinator Liam Coen said Andrews will be used as a tight end and as a tackle.
“He’s battling it out for the right tackle spot, and we’ll see how that goes. If he’s not out there at tackle, he’ll been on the field as a tight end. He’s going to play for us. He’s a good physical player who provides some senior leadership,” Harasymiak said.
Improved special teams emphasized
Special teams were problematic for the 3-8 Black Bears a year ago, and Harasymiak said that will be a “big, big emphasis” during their training camp.
Maine was last in the 12-team Colonial Athletic Association in extra-point efficiency (14-for-18, 77.8 percent) and 11th in average kickoff return yardage (17.2) and punt return yardage (3.5).
The Black Bears were eighth in field goal efficiency (12-21, 57.1 percent).
“In my first year here, Trevor Coston returned a punt for a touchdown in our first game and that really changed the game for us,” Harasymiak recalled. “Damarr Aultman returned kickoffs for touchdowns against New Hampshire (2013) and Rhode Island (2012).
“When you can change field position with a return, it can be a huge momentum swing,” said Harasymiak, who is devoting a lot of time to special teams this season along with new special teams coordinator Nick Charlton.
Harasymiak said players can sometimes view special teams “as that other thing we have to do.”
But he has pointed out to them that “if you want a chance to play in the NFL, you had better be on special teams, and the guys have done a good job buying into it.”
Placekicker Sean Decloux had a sub-par senior season (11-for-18 in field goals, 13-for-15 in extra points) and Sam Lenson went 1-for-2 in field goals.
Returning punter James DeMartini averaged 40.9 yards per punt and challenging him for the job will be junior Lenson and redshirt freshman Derek Deoul. Lenson, Daoul and sophomore Patrick Leonard from John Bapst are the place-kicking candidates.
Maine opens Thursday, Sept. 1, at the University of Connecticut.