Centeio brings his ‘swagger’ to quarterback competition

The freshman early enrollee de-committed from the University of Miami in 2015 and is battling for the starting quarterback spot.

Freshman quarterback Todd Centeio drops back to pass during Sunday's practice at Chodoff Field. SYDNEY SCHAEFER | THE TEMPLE NEWS

When Todd Centeio’s dad caught him playing basketball down the street with his friends as a kid, he would yell at him. The freshman quarterback wasn’t allowed to play other sports.

Centeio was committed to football 24/7. Because Centeio grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, his dad, also named Todd, wanted him to take advantage of being able to play during the whole year at quarterback camps and at the local rec center.

“If it wasn’t camp season, we were in the backyard running the ladder, we were working on three-step drops, five-step drops, seven-step drops,” the elder Centeio said. “We were always working.”

The younger Centeio, now more than 1,000 miles north of his hometown, is one of four candidates competing for Temple’s starting quarterback position. The three other candidates are redshirt junior Frank Nutile, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi and redshirt freshman Anthony Russo.

Centeio came to Temple in Spring 2017 as an early enrollee to participate in spring practices, allowing him to be seen in action by the coaches sooner.

“That’s critical for those guys to be able to get here as an early enrollee,” offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. “That was a huge opportunity for him. When you start evaluating quarterbacks and you start talking about personalities you either say, ‘Is he a kid that gets it? Does he have it?’ And he does. He has a little bit of swagger to him.”

Patenaude added Centeio has the ability to make plays with his feet when the pocket collapses, a skill he said the three other candidates don’t offer.

In his senior year at William T. Dwyer High School, Centeio rushed for 243 yards on 34 carries for three touchdowns. He also threw for 2,344 yards and 31 touchdowns.

The three-star recruit had offers from Power 5 programs like the University of Miami, University of Nebraska and North Carolina State University. He chose Temple after de-committing from Miami in May 2015. Miami made offers to other quarterbacks in Centeio’s class, and the family wanted a school fully committed to them, the elder Centeio said.

Centeio received his first offer from Temple, and three coaches, including offensive quality control and recruiting coach Adam DiMichele, kept in contact with him.

Dwyer coach Jack Daniels witnessed the traits Patenaude spoke of when he coached Centeio as a junior and senior in high school.

While playing against Palm Beach Gardens High School during his junior year, Centeio pulled a zone read and dashed for 15 yards. VanDarius Cowan, a University of Alabama linebacker ranked as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, caught Centeio and brought him down from behind. After the play, Centeio came over to the sideline and had a badly swollen knee, Daniels said.

Daniels was comfortable with taking Centeio out to not risk further injury.

But Centeio offered the two-time state champion coach a different plan.

“‘I’m not coming out,’” Daniels recalls Centeio told him. “He goes, ‘I’m hurt, my knee is a little bit stiff but when that happens you play through the pain.’”

Dwyer beat  Palm Beach Gardens 32-6, but Centeio missed several games in the aftermath due to a knee sprain.

Centeio transferred to Dwyer after a two-year stint at Royal Palm Beach High.

Royal Palm’s offense was a run-oriented system, but Centeio wanted to showcase his ability to make plays with his arm down the field and Dwyer became the perfect fit because of its spread offense, his father said.

Since 2002, Daniels has sent five quarterbacks to Football Bowl Subdivision programs, including former University of Florida and North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett. He led the New England Patriots to a win during Week 3 last season while Tom Brady served a four-game suspension.

Centeio is the most recent to go from Dwyer to Division I.

“We didn’t change anything mechanic-wise because he was accurate, he got the ball out quick, he had a really quick release,” Daniels said. “What we did is teach him more concepts and when to pull it on zone reads and run on [run-pass options]. He’s really good at that stuff.”

Centeio has displayed some scrambling ability in preseason practice. Sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley, who has faced off with Centeio and the three other candidates for starting quarterback in preseason camp, said they have all displayed different skill sets on the practice field. 

Marchi is quick and has a nice sling, Nutile is calm and composed and Russo is big but looks quicker since last fall, he said.

And Centeio has shown Bradley something new every day of practice.

“I’ll be sitting on the sideline, he’ll throw a pass and I’m like ‘Damn, I didn’t know he had that in him,’” Bradley said. “Or he’ll make a move or run… I like his game a lot, he reminds me of P.J. [Walker].”

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