Quarterback chose UAlbany football over Syracuse lacrosse

ALBANY – University at Albany backup quarterback Joey Carino will get to the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

He’ll be playing in a different sport and uniform than originally planned.

Carino, who initially committed as a high school junior to Syracuse lacrosse, will suit up for the Great Danes against the Orange at noon Saturday.

Carino backed out of his commitment to Syracuse and chose football, his first love, when UAlbany offered him a scholarship.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a cool experience,” Carino said of going to the Dome. “That’s what I wanted to do first, and obviously the football opportunity around came around for me and I took it, so it’s going be cool going back up there.”

Carino, a standout in both sports at Arcbishop Stepinac in White Plains, visited Syracuse and toured the Dome before he committed to then-Orange lacrosse coach John Desko in January 2019.

“It was a really cool experience for me and the Carrier Dome is a really cool atmosphere and I can’t wait for us and me to play in it,” Carino said.

He viewed the Syracuse opportunity as a fallback in case he didn’t get any Division I football offers. But UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso offered him and Carino switched his allegiance to the Great Danes on July 31, 2019.


“I’ve always been a football player, so when I committed to (Syracuse) it was a cool opportunity and once football came around for me, I wanted to take that,” Carino said. “I mean, just playing football, being around the atmosphere and being a family, the team camaraderie in football, nothing matches it in another sport.”

Gattuso said he was never really concerned about losing that recruiting battle.

“No, we don’t really recruit a lot of kids are primarily lacrosse players, but football wins out in most of those battes,” Gattuso said. “If a kid’s a football player and wants to play Division I football, we think we have a pretty good shot to get him, no matter who’s recruiting him in lacrosse.”

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Carino threw for 4,175 career yards and 49 touchdowns in high school while helping Stepinac to Catholic state titles in 2017 and 2018.

He has found a niche for the Great Danes this fall, getting a few snaps as a wildcat quarterback coming in for starter Jeff Undercuffler. The more mobile Carino has rushed four times for 22 yards this season, though he has yet to attempt a pass.

Carino might also become UAlbany’s holder against the Orange after regular holder Braeden Zenelovic dropped a pair of snaps that prevented 46-yard field goal attempts in a 16-14 loss to Rhode Island last Saturday.

Carino took snaps during and after Tuesday’s practice. Wednesday’s practice was moved indoors to SEFCU Arena because of lighning.

“He’s fun,” Gattuso said. “He’s fearless and he made a nice play in the (Rhode Island) game. We’re just slowly bringing him along and we feel really good about our young quarterbacks.”

As a true freshman, Carino got valuable playing experience during UAlbany’s four-game season last spring. With Undercuffler out injured, Carino appeared in the final game against Stony Brook and completed 6 of 11 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown in the 21-7 loss. He also rushed for 58 yards.

“I got my feet wet,” Carino said. “I was just a half, but it was good to get some experience and get a couple of drives going and kind of feel how everybody plays and it was a good experience for me.”

Undercuffler referred to Carino as “my guy.”

“I’m trying to teach him everything that coach teaches me,” Undercuffler said. “He certainly is a great football player right now, but he’s definitely progressing and I think just having his tools in any game plan we have creates a little bit of confusion to the opposing defense.”

Carino indicated he’s happy to call Casey Stadium his home field instead of the Carrier Dome.

“I love this place, I love the coaches, I love the players,” he said. “It’s an awesome place to be.”

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