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How top MIAA QBs Austin Tutas, Jordan Moore and Billy Atkins are preparing during the coronavirus pandemic

Mount Saint Joseph's Billy Atkins led the state in passing yards last season and won a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship. Now he, along with the other quarterbacks of his conference have continued to prepare for a season that might be in jeopardy due to the coronavirus.
Mount Saint Joseph's Billy Atkins led the state in passing yards last season and won a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship. Now he, along with the other quarterbacks of his conference have continued to prepare for a season that might be in jeopardy due to the coronavirus. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavrius continues to rise in Maryland and abroad, three of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference’s top junior quarterbacks have continued to train in a safe manner. Some of them also have seen their recruiting processes change during the outbreak.

Archbishop Spalding’s Austin Tutas, Loyola Blakefield’s Jordan Moore and Mount Saint Joseph’s Billy Atkins have continued to grind for the 2020 varsity football season. But quarterbacks have an odd dilemma on their hands.

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They are the primary ball carriers on the football field, but how can they find someone to throw to when everyone is asked to not gather in groups of five or more?

Archbishop Spalding quarterback Austin Tutas looks to throw.
Archbishop Spalding quarterback Austin Tutas looks to throw. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Austin Tutas, Archbishop Spalding

Tutas is listed as a three-star, dual-threat quarterback, and is the 38th-ranked player at his position in the country and 36th overall in the state, per 247Sports. The junior rose to stardom in 2019, passing for 2150 yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

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Drawing offers from 15 schools — including Columbia, Harvard, Liberty, UMass, Penn, Temple, Virginia Tech and Yale — Tutas is deep into his recruiting process. The NCAA has placed a ban on visiting colleges until May 31 and the virus has made colleges cancel spring football. As a result, Tutas thinks college coaches have been more laser-focused on the recruiting trail.

“I think that coaches have started to focus more on recruiting now just because they don’t have as much of that focus or getting their guys ready,” Tutas said. "I’m sure they’re still doing those Zoom calls — making sure their programs are in order and moving forward, but I think that they’ve put more of an emphasis on reaching out to recruits and players and using this time as best as they can.

“It’s been kind of ironic. It’s picked up a lot for me over this break that we’ve had. I’ve been in contact more with coaches now than I was before we were put into quarantine.”

He works out daily in his garage, using his home weights and goes on a daily run. The biggest key is finding ways to keep his arm in shape by adhering to the social distancing policies put in place and searching for an open park.

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“It’s been a little different with everything being closed and there’s not a lot of field access, but as a football player and a quarterback especially, it’s important to try to continue working as hard as you can,” said Tutas. “You can’t just wait around for the season to come back. The show has to go on."

The rising senior quarterback has a training partner who also attends Spalding with him. Ashley Tutas, Austin’s sister, has kept up with her soccer training, while Austin works on his football drills.

“We’ll go on runs together and a lot of times, my dad will set some stuff up for us and we’ll lift together in the garage,” said Tutas of training with his sister. "It’s definitely been cool to work with her and keep grinding and getting better with her. She’s highly competitive and definitely a better athlete than me.

“So, she pushes me and we get better together, but I’m definitely fortunate to have the weight set and the stuff in the garage because I know there’s a lot of athletes that don’t have a lot of access to all of that stuff. I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

Jordan Moore, Loyola Blakefield

Loyola quarterback Jordan Moore jumps over Calvert Hall's Connor Icard before throwing a completed pass in the third quarter in the 100th Turkey Bowl at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Loyola quarterback Jordan Moore jumps over Calvert Hall's Connor Icard before throwing a completed pass in the third quarter in the 100th Turkey Bowl at Johnny Unitas Stadium. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Moore is a three-star Duke commit, the 81st-ranked athlete in the country and the 31st-ranked player in the state, per 247Sports. He’s coming off of a season in which he threw for 2,184 yards, 27 touchdowns and five interceptions while rushing for 649 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Loyola signal-caller just committed to Duke on Saturday night, but the coronavirus didn’t speed up his decision. What it did do is buy him and his family more time to figure out which school was the best fit on the field and his academic endeavors. His father, Percy, went through Jordan’s list of offers with him and made their final decision.

“We’re fortunate and Jordan was fortunate in the fact that he had 21 schools in front of him and all of them were great institutions to choose from,” Percy Moore said. "As a junior, he was more fortunate than most and we did plan to drive to a couple of schools this spring.

“Obviously, with the coronavirus, that was not possible. So, it gave us a chance to sit down as a family, look at the criteria, look at all of the schools in front of him, look at which positions the school were offering to him and to narrow it down.”

As for the season at hand, Jordan has continued his preparation through workouts with his brother Jayden, who is also a quarterback. He hasn’t missed a beat with a reliable training partner.

“I would say that the coronavirus hasn’t really affected anything at all really,” Jordan Moore said. “I have a full weight set in my basement – I’ve been lifting. My brother, who is also coming into high school next year is a quarterback. So, we’ve been throwing – I’ve been throwing with my brother and my dad. I don’t really think that coronavirus has affected anything with my physical training at all.”

Billy Atkins, Mount Saint Joseph

Mount Saint Joseph lineman Pat Fitzmaurice (75) blocks Calvert Hall Cardinals linebacker Nick Lenon (17), allowing quarterback Billy Atkins (10) time in the pocket to pass in 2018.
Mount Saint Joseph lineman Pat Fitzmaurice (75) blocks Calvert Hall Cardinals linebacker Nick Lenon (17), allowing quarterback Billy Atkins (10) time in the pocket to pass in 2018.

Atkins is ranked as the 89th pro-style quarterback in the country and 49th player in the state, per 247Sports. After a monster junior campaign, in which he led the state with 3,089 passing yards, and added 36 touchdowns, seven interceptions, a passer rating of 121.6 and 120 rushing yards. He also led the team to a 9-2 record and an MIAA A Conference championship in 2019.

As the leader of his offense, it’s tough to not be able to practice with his team. He has made ways to continue to get better — practicing with his father and still learning about the various defenses that he will face. He has a specific schedule that he adheres to daily.

“Basically, I wake up around 9 in the morning, eat breakfast, we leave the house and go to the field for about two hours,” Atkins said. “I throw, I kick, I punt — some running stuff. Then, I’ll eat lunch and I do weight training after that and then I do a quick study and then my homework.”

The Gaels quarterback has gotten offers from Buffalo, Morgan State, Virginia Military Institute and William & Mary and has received interest from Holy Cross and James Madison. He’s looking to build his case for more FBS offers, even with the gaudy numbers that he put up last year and the coronavirus lockdown is making it tougher.

“It’s been weird because I had about four visits planned for spring break and all of them got canceled,” Atkins said. "I feel like if I would’ve boosted my recruiting a little more than it is right now — I’m not saying that I’m not thankful for what I’ve received because I definitely am — it probably would’ve opened up a little more.

“Also, if we would have spring practices, it would’ve helped not just me, but our entire team get to college for free. It definitely slowed it down a lot. Playing quarterback especially, coaches want to see you throw the ball in person. It could be that kind of thing holding them back from them offering me a scholarship. If I was able to visit campus, it would’ve made it a lot easier to get my recruiting up there. It is what it is.”

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Four of the receivers he will team with in the fall are rising seniors. Dont’e Thornton is a heavily recruited wide receiver prospect. Ausar Crawley has Arizona State knocking at his door with an offer. Tyler Wilkins got an offer from William & Mary. Slot man Semaj Henson has garnered interest from Lafayette after putting together a season in which he had 35 receptions for 536 yards and six touchdowns.

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“I feel like if they would’ve been able to be seen in-person, it would definitely help out a lot because a coach can see their speed firsthand,” Atkins said of his quartet of receivers. "Sometimes film will make you look a little slower and definitely as a quarterback, it makes your ball velocity look at little slower. Coaches want to see you throw in-person to see the ball velocity. If it was up to me, I would try to practice, but people have got to stay safe.

“Guys would’ve definitely exploded recruiting-wise. AC [Crawley], he got Arizona State, Tyler got William & Mary and stuff like that. If they’ve seen them in-person, it could’ve blown up. Guys like Semaj, he could’ve exploded in this Spring training time, but it’s tough — it’s definitely tough.”

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