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Fifth-year senior and backup A.J. Augustine has gotten his first playing time for the Keydets.
CHUCK STEENBURGH | VMI
VMI backup quarterback A.J. Augustine has completed 34 of 51 passes for 496 yards and five touchdowns since stepping in.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
LEXINGTON — Better late than never. Just ask VMI’s current starting quarterback.
“Oh, you’ve got that right. This is much better than never!” A.J. Augustine confirmed.
In his fifth year in the VMI program, the seldom-used Augustine suddenly finds himself as the main man of the Keydets’ offense following the loss of longtime starter Eric Kordenbrock to a concussion Oct. 19 at Presbyterian.
“It’s what I’ve wanted to do,” said Augustine, his eyes sparkling with excitement. “I wanted to be a starting quarterback. … I think everybody wants a starting position. Now I have the opportunity to do that and showcase my abilities a little bit.”
Bring it, the guy says. He’s ready to wing it.
So far, so good. Since Kordenbrock was felled by a savage helmet-to-helmet hit by Presbyterian defensive end Mitchell Anderson, Augustine has completed 34 of 51 passes for 496 yards and five touchdowns, triggering the offense to 55 points in his six quarters at the helm.
“I can’t say it’s one player. … Our receivers are making big plays, our offensive line is blocking better than I’ve ever seen them block, our whole offense has been operating on all cylinders,” said Augustine, a 6-foot-3, 208-pound redshirt senior.
“It’s nice to see the production. It feels good to come in the game and know that you can compete at the level of everybody else and that there’s not a big dropoff. It feels good to know that you can produce and help your team out.”
Augustine will ride in the saddle of VMI’s offense until Kordenbrock is cleared by doctors to practice and play.
Augustine said Wednesday his close friend was still suffering some adverse effects such as headaches. Kordenbrock did make the trip to last week’s 66-27 loss at No. 3 Coastal Carolina. He didn’t dress, but he did helped mentor his backup on the sideline.
“We are pretty tight,” said Augustine. “You have to be — we are roommates on the away games.
“It’s really unfortunate what happened to Eric. As soon as I saw the hit, I knew that he was hurt bad. It was really a vicious hit. I had a concussion in high school so I know what he’s going through. It’s not fun.
“That said, I think Eric is going to be fine. He’s waiting and when he’s ready, he’ll play. We both want to win and it doesn’t really matter really who’s in the game.”
Still, it’s hard to ignore Augustine’s meteoric numbers the past two Saturdays. It’s been pretty strong stuff for a St. Petersburg, Fla., kid who joined the team as a walk-on in the fall of 2009. It took two years for Augustine to get his first snap in a game.
“This was my one and only offer,” said Augustine, breaking into laughter. “I did nothing in 2009 and 2010. I think I was seventh on the depth chart at quarterback my freshman year. But I’ve worked my way up throughout the four years, the past couple years I’ve been in the two-deep, three-deep, so. The thing is, though, Eric is a tough player, he doesn’t get hurt very often.”
Now look at Augustine. He’s the No. 1 man, at least for another week.
“Exciting is the word,” he said. “When you came to college, you came to be the starting quarterback.”
Certainly, it’s a high rank in battle that has to make his family proud.
“My grandfather [John Augustine III] was class of 1940 here, my uncle [John Augustine IV] was class of 1968 here, so I know they’re excited, too,” Augustine said.
“This was my first call, this was my one and only offer.”
No matter what happens today at Liberty or the rest of the season, Augustine’s career will end on a high note. He will graduate in December and begin his three-year commitment as a second lieutenant in the Army.
On that note, Augustine’s mind flip-flo pped for a second.
“You know, I would love to keep playing as long as I could,” he said. “But they only let us get five years.”
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