Football: Peter Pujals ready to run Loyola offenseWilmette, 11/19/11
Loyola's Peter Pujals (6) celebrates with teammate Sean Sanborn after scoring Loyola's first touchdown of their playoff game against Glenbard North at Loyola Nov. 19. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
In one series two seasons ago, Peter Pujals showed what kind of football player he can be for Loyola.
With starting quarterback Malcolm Weaver on the bench with an ankle injury, Pujals, then a sophomore, came in cold and directed the Ramblers down the field and nearly to the game-winning touchdown against Maine South.
Loyola coach John Holecek opened up the competition last summer, but Weaver won the job again. Pujals would have to wait his turn.
That time has come.
Save for an injury or unexpected circumstance, Pujals is the team’s starting quarterback going into this season.
“It’s still early, but I am excited to be a leader on this team,” the 6-foot-2 Pujals said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a while, but I need to work on getting myself better as a quarterback in general.”
Holecek has been impressed with Pujals’ progress this offseason. The coach remains baffled at how no college has offered Pujals, who features fast feet and a strong, accurate arm.
At Northern Illinois’ camp, Pujals ran a 4.68 40-yard dash. Last week at Northwestern’s camp, he backed it up with a 4.67 in the 40.
“He’s been exceptional,” Holecek said. “Hopefully, people will start to take notice. He has that Division I presence about him. Coaches always are looking for confident quarterbacks.”
Northern Illinois and Eastern Illinois are two schools who have expressed interest recently. Holecek said a college coach told him Pujals is the best player he’s seen without a scholarship offer.
Pujals, who also starts for Loyola’s basketball team, is flattered by the attention, but he’s not in any rush to choose a college. He’s concentrating on having a successful senior season.
“It makes me feel good that people are saying nice things about me, but I am focusing on Loyola right now,” said Pujals, who’s attending an NFL-sponsored leadership summit this week at Penn and then will compete at a couple of showcase camps in New England. “The scholarship stuff will come. I guess I am happy and frustrated by it, but I am not worried about it.”
Before that, Pujals wants to lead Loyola to that elusive state championship. But he has big shoes to fill.
Weaver was 24-2 in two years as a starter and helped the Ramblers to second place last season, the program’s best finish since winning the state title in 1993.
“Winning a title is a ton of motivation for me,” said Pujals, who played the final series in the state final in Champaign. “Everybody here wants to be a state champion. We should be good, but we have some people playing different positions. It’s about trusting the guys we have.
“We might be a different team than last year, but we definitely will be good.”