Delaware's Hurley holds advantage over Panthers' QB

Delaware quarterback Trent Hurley will have a unique advantage Saturday over his Pitt counterpart Chad Voytik when the teams meet for the first time.

Unlike Voytik, Hurley already has started and won a game at Heinz Field.

Hurley led Greensburg Central Catholic to a victory against Aliquippa in the 2009 WPIAL Class AA championship. He threw for a touchdown and ran for another as the Centurions claimed the title.

"As a high school kid, you get to go in and play in an NFL stadium, play in front of a decent crowd," Hurley said. "It's exciting."

Since then, Hurley has developed into one of the best quarterbacks at the Division I-AA level.

Coming out of high school, he was lightly recruited by the Panthers -- then coached by Dave Wannstedt -- but never received a scholarship offer. He recognizes that it is a different coaching staff at Pitt now, but said the lack of a scholarship offer from his hometown team has driven him the past five years.

"I felt that I could've gone somewhere in the Big East, like Pitt, out of high school," Hurley said. "So, yeah, I guess you could say I carry a little bit of a chip on my shoulder from that, but it's just something that drives me every day to be the best player I can be."

Instead, Hurley received mostly MAC-level offers and accepted a scholarship to Bowling Green.

After two years, he had played in just four games in mop-up duty and decided he wanted to leave Bowling Green for a "better fit." He called up Greensburg Central Catholic coach Muzzy Colosimo, who put him in touch with Delaware.

Then-Delaware coach K.C. Keeler had recruited him out of high school, and Hurley knew about the Blue Hens' history of producing quarterbacks, notably former Pitt transfer Joe Flacco.

"That was probably a factor in the decision," Hurley said. "Not ultimately the deciding factor, but it definitely was a factor."

He has started 20 games for the Blue Hens over the past two years, completing 63.5 percent of his passes for 4,171 yards and 32 touchdowns. Last year, his 155.2 passing efficiency was eighth best in I-AA.

"Since I've gotten here, he's been an ideal guy," said Blue Hens coach Dave Brock, who replaced Keeler after the 2012 season.

"He's really played well, performed well. He kind of healed up and he's been healthy. He's an exemplary guy. He's a guy that stands for a lot of the things we want at Delaware football."

Heading into the game Saturday, Brock said he isn't downplaying the significance of this game for Delaware football. The Blue Hens historically are one of the best I-AA programs, but haven't made the playoffs since 2010. In their lone game against a I-A team last year, they lost, 51-7, against Navy.

"I think one of the obligations you have when you talk to the team is you tell them the truth," Brock said. "It's their opportunity to go out and play in an NFL stadium. I want them to be excited about doing it."

Hurley, too, knows the kind of exposure and attention he can bring to Delaware football with a strong performance, or maybe even a win, Saturday.

"You don't go in for a job opportunity and look at it as a burden," Hurley said. "We're looking at this the same way. We're looking at this as a job opportunity for us to put on a good display for the CAA and the FCS level."

Hurley said he's still trying to sort out ticket requests for the game and lost count of how many people he'll have in attendance.

"There's going to be a good bit of people there for me," he said.

Ultimately, the sights, sounds and atmosphere could feel similar to that WPIAL title game he won five years ago only on a much grander stage.

"I'm expecting the same thing [Saturday]," he said.

"Not only am I going to get to come home, but I get to come home and play in an NFL stadium and play in front of a big crowd. You can't ask for anything more than that."

Sam Werner: and Twitter @SWernerPG.

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