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With his team trailing New Hampshire 10-7 at halftime this past Saturday, Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore decided to make a quarterback change. Freshman Charlie McKee would start the second half replacing redshirt freshman Daron Bryden.
The former star at Oceanside High School would be getting his first taste of college football.
“(Priore) pulled us over and said he made a decision to give me a chance to get in there and do my thing,” said McKee. “He told me not to worry about much and play my ball like I’ve done in the past. It was kind of a quick decision.”
McKee enjoyed a solid debut completing 18 of 26 passes for 190 yards including his first collegiate touchdown pass in Stony Brook’s 24-14 loss dropping the Seawolves to 0-5. [Keep scrolling to see his first college touchdown pass.]
And his performance has earned McKee his first collegiate start this Saturday night when the Seawolves travel to the Bronx for a meeting with Fordham. Although it’s not a home game, it’s a chance for his family and friends to see him in action.
“It means a lot to me to play in front of my parents,” said McKee. “My family, my extended family and my friends are all going to come out. A lot of emotions going around for me because I’ve always played in front of a bunch of people in high school and my hometown who obviously knew who I was. Definitely super excited to be playing close to home and for people I love come out and watch me play.”
Starting as a freshman is nothing new to McKee.
Four years ago, Oceanside High School head coach Rob Blount had a decision to make on a starting quarterback for the 2018 season. What he ultimately decided to do was to give the job to McKee who was a freshman. It turned out to be a great decision as McKee delivered a spectacular four-year career with the Sailors throwing for 8,930 yards and 91 touchdown passes.
And when his high school career was over, McKee accepted an offer to stay at home on Long Island taking his talents east to Stony Brook.
After putting in a lot of work during the off-season, at training camp and in practice, McKee received the opportunity he was looking for.
“I was personally ready to go but definitely I was a little bit nervous,” said McKee.
“When I got the news that I was going in at halftime, there was a lot of emotion, a little bit of nerves and a lot of excitement obviously with all the work I put in over these last four years in high school and then coming in throughout the summer.”
As for the decision to make the quarterback change, there wasn’t any one particular reason why it happened.
“It was a gut feeling,” said Priore during an interview with stonybrookathletics.com. “(McKee’s) got some moxie. He was a four-year high school starter and a Gatorade Player of the Year. He’s practiced some…not a lot. It was a hunch and he made me look good.”
As McKee trotted onto the field for his collegiate debut to start the second half, he admittedly was nervous. But he really didn’t have time to worry about the butterflies because he had a job to do, the same job that caught the eye of Stony Brook when he was playing at Oceanside.
Once he got his feet wet, he was fine.
“It’s definitely a little faster than high school but I was definitely comfortable,” said McKee. “I was confident with my game once I got in there. As things started rolling, I was definitely comfortable and kind of felt like I’ve been there before.”
McKee’s first career collegiate touchdown would come in the fourth quarter with Stony Brook training 17-7. On a second and eight from the New Hampshire ten-yard line, McKee rolled right and then looked left where he found sophomore running back Ross Tallarico for the ten-yard touchdown pass. Watch it below.
“The play was meant for Ross,” said McKee. “It was a fake boot out to the boundary and then Ross kind of sneaked out to the left in kind of a wheel type route. I had to fake like I was booting right and looking there but as everything kind of flooded towards the boundary, Ross came open in the wheel. Ross was wide open so I just had to put it on him and he did the rest for me.”
After a brilliant high school career, McKee had thrown the first of what is expected to be many touchdowns for Stony Brook and that excitement was felt throughout the Seawolves sideline.
“A lot of my teammates came up to me and they told they were proud of me and told me they were excited for me,” said McKee. “A lot of emotions going around, not only for me but for all of my teammates which I definitely appreciated.”
The congratulatory messages continued after the game including the man who gave him that opportunity to start as a freshman in high school four years ago.
From day one in high school to now as he navigates his way through his freshman college season, McKee has a special relationship with his high school coach.
“I talk to Coach Blount probably every single day if not every other day,” said McKee. “He texted me after the game. We talked a little bit. He said he was proud of me and just kind of keep rolling and do my thing as I used to do with him.”
And McKee has rolled himself into a starting job with Stony Brook.
While this will be McKee’s first week at the Seawolves starter, he brought a starting quarterback mentality with him from Oceanside from day one.
“I go in each day to win the day and prepare as if I’m the starter no matter what which I did the past five weeks even though I wasn’t playing,” said McKee. “I just go in and do my thing and lead the guys as I’ve always done even when I was in high school. Just go in each day and believe in myself and believe in the guys around me and win each day and go from there.”
Charlie McKee did a lot of winning and threw a lot of touchdown passes at Oceanside High School. He has his first touchdown pass with Stony Brook and now, as the starter, looks to get that first win in a Seawolves uniform.
Top: Stony Brook’s Charlie McKee (4), a freshman from Oceanside, getting his first first college game action against New Hampshire on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. (Credit: Stony Brook Athletics)