You may remember Zack Mahoney as “that backup quarterback who got thrown to the wolves.” Last season, the sophomore started against Syracuse’s two toughest opponents, then 8th ranked LSU and national title runner up Clemson. The junior college transfer didn’t shy away from the challenge. He threw for a combined 234 yards and had five total touchdowns in those two starts, and the Orange lost each of those contests by just 10.
Mahoney arrived at Syracuse as a preferred walk-on after a year at the College of DuPage. But he shedded that tag yesterday when Dino Babers rewarded the quarterback with a scholarship. Mahoney talked with Fizz about his achievement and the upcoming season.
Orange Fizz: What was your reaction when you were rewarded with the scholarship?
Zack Mahoney: I was shocked at first because it was something I’ve been working on to get for so long. After that I was excited and relieved that this semester will be much easier on myself and my family.
OF: Dino Babers put out a pretty heartfelt tweet about your scholarship. What did that mean to you?
ZM: It means a lot. He’s a great coach and for him to honor me with a scholarship is a huge deal for me.
OF: What characteristics about yourself do you believe helped you earn this scholarship?
ZM: I think my determination to end my days better than I started helped me get this scholarship. I just want to compete to the fullest everyday and help improve myself and the team.
OF: Before coming to Syracuse you played junior college with the College of DuPage. What did playing at that level teach you and what made you want to pursue playing Division I football?
ZM: That level taught me to be very appreciative of everything I have and that once I got to Syracuse to truly make the most out of every opportunity. Working hard can get you an opportunity, but making the most of it is what counts.
OF: You’ve played in some pretty big games against some of the elite programs in college football. How have those games helped towards your development?
ZM: Being able to play against some of the best teams in the country really allowed me to be able to compete at the highest level and I was able to gain confidence a lot quicker against some of the best players. It also helped me adjust to the speed of the game much faster.
OF: In both those games, you were replacing Eric Dungey. Does the spontaneity of your starts affect your mentality?
ZM: No, not really. We are always told to prepare that your number can be called at anytime so I need to be ready at a moment’s notice.
OF: Dino Babers is the new man in charge. How excited are you and the rest of the offense for what he brings to the table?
ZM: We are very excited. We are going to be fast and something that no one in the ACC has seen.
OF: Offensively, what is the biggest difference between Babers and Scott Shafer?
ZM: The biggest difference is the speed in which we operate. We went from time of possession and few plays to as many plays as we can.
OF: What should Orange fans expect for the upcoming season?
ZM: Orange fans should expect a lot of plays and a lot of excitement. It will be a fun season.