ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine football team was involved in eight games that were decided by seven points or less last fall en route to a 6-5 campaign.
Despite kicking only one field goal all season, the Black Bears still managed to win six of those close games.
Head coach Joe Harasymiak has addressed the need for a place-kicker by signing Kenny Doak of Perkasie, Pennsylvania to a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.
Doak is one of 15 members of the incoming class of 2017 and the Black Bears also have three transfers who are already at the school and will be eligible next season.
UMaine went 1-for-7 on field goals (14.3 percent) which was, by far, the worst percentage among the 12 teams in the CAA. The next closest was Stony Brook at 50 percent (3-for-6).
UMaine converted 28 of its 31 extra-point attempts (90 percent).
“We’re excited about it,” said Harasymiak, who last year replaced former 23-year head coach Jack Cosgrove. “It was obviously a huge priority for our program. He’s a five-star kicker out of high school who came highly recommended from people we have trusted before.
“He has a very strong leg. Hopefully, he’ll help us on kickoffs, too,” added Harasymiak.
Doak will compete for the position with juniors Patrick Leonard and Brandon Briggs and sophomore Derek Deoul.
Two former Maine high school stars were also included in the class. Harasymiak said both Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Michael Laverriere of Arundel, who played at Thornton Academy of Saco, and Raffaele Salamone of Portland and Deering High School have bright futures.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Laverriere was the Trojans’ quarterback, but Harasymiak is moving him to fullback-tight end.
“He ran really good times at our camps this past summer and I think he’ll be able to do great things. He’s a big kid and a great kid to have in our program,” said Harasymiak.
Salamone (6-4, 230) is a defensive end-defensive tackle and was a finalist for the Frank Gaziano Award given to the state’s top linemen.
“We felt he was one of the best defensive prospects in the state. We recruited him hard,” said Harasymiak, who intends to continue to go after the top football players in the state.
“It has become a big deal for us,” said Harasymiak. “Each assistant coach is responsible for eight to nine schools in Maine. And having them come to our summer camps is very important because it gives them a chance to compete against kids from out of state.”
The other incoming freshmen include seven defensive players and five offensive players.
The defensive players include Maurice McCray (6-1, 231), a linebacker from Philadelphia; Jamehl Wiley (6-2, 256), a defensive end from New Castle, Delaware; Daniel Rymer (6-5, 210), defensive end from Cambridge, Massachusetts; Shaquille St. Lot (5-11, 186), a cornerback from Montreal and Erick Robertson (6-1, 190), a safety from Haddonfield, New Jersey.
The offensive players include quarterback Isaiah Robinson (6-1, 190) from Bowie, Maryland; tight end Grant McDonald (6-3, 220) from Vancouver, British Columbia; e interior linemen Archie Callahan (6-4, 280) from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Liam Dobson (6-4, 315) from Ottawa, Ontario; wide receivers Devin Young (5-10, 170) from Binghamton, New York, and Jayvaun Shears of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and running back Ramon Jefferson (5-9, 175) of the Bronx, New York.
The transfers are quarterback Max Staver (6-5, 240) of Brentwood, Tennessee, tight end Brendan O’Neil (6-4, 230) of Burlington, Massachusetts, and offensive lineman Quadrick Barnes (6-1, 320) of Petersburg, Virginia.
Staver spent time at the University of Florida, Houston Baptist College and Tyler Junior College in Texas. O’Neil transferred in after spending two years at Wake Forest University and Barnes spent a season at Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania where he was a second-team All-American.
Staver and Robinson will compete with senior Drew Belcher and sophomore Jack Walsh for the starting quarterback job. Dan Collins took all of the snaps last fall.
“We want to create as much competition as we can to find the right guy. The quarterback needs to be the one who leads you,” said Harasymiak.
UMaine had four true freshmen who received a lot of playing time last season and Harasymiak said if any of the newcomers can help the team right away, he won’t hesitate to use them rather than redshirt them like he did last fall with running back Josh Mack, cornerback Manny Patterson, wide receiver Earnest Edwards and defensive end Alejandro Oregon.
“If they’re ready to play, they’re going to play,” said Harasymiak. “We have to win games.”