Spider quarterback Joe Mancuso ready to pass


The Spiders' sixth-year man

This fall, a dozen Spider football players are taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility. One of them is starting QB Joe Mancuso.

Joe Mancuso, ’21, gets the quirkiness of starting his sixth season of college football at age 24. He points out that some of his teammates were in seventh grade when he was a high school senior.

“That’s a little strange,” he said, “but it’s been a lot of fun.”

It’s also another example of how the COVID-19 pandemic upended normal life, but the NCAA offered consolation for athletes whose seasons were disrupted. Players like Mancuso received an extra year of eligibility. After redshirting in 2016, he played fall seasons in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and then an abbreviated spring season in 2021, making him a sixth-year player this fall.

“It’s funny — looking back, the fifth-years were always the old heads,” he said. “I’m at that point plus another year, so now I’m an extra-old head. It’s a funny dynamic, but I’m definitely appreciative they gave us another year and that we’re able to keep it rolling.”

Rolling is a good description of what Mancuso has been doing under center since he began making starts at quarterback in 2018. Before the current season started, he already ranked in the program’s top 10 in total offense and in three career passing categories (yards, completions, and touchdowns).

The biggest jump he had to make from high school to college was learning the more sophisticated defenses, he said. He spent a lot of time with his coaches and at the side of Kyle Lauletta, ’18, who was drafted out of college in the fourth round by the New York Giants and is now with the Cleveland Browns. Opposing defenses also proved to be formidable teachers.

“Getting on the field slowed everything down,” Mancuso said. “Once I figured out, ‘OK, this is cover two. This is cover three,’ it helped me know where to go with the ball. That’s also something I learned behind Kyle and the other quarterbacks ahead of me: composure and accuracy.”

His favorite moments from his career include ones you might not expect. Yes, he makes big throws for touchdowns, but ask him about his personal highlight reel, and he’ll tell you about times he ran the ball, got hit, and stayed on his feet. “Anything that’s a little bit of an unorthodox QB play” is memorable, he said.

He hopes to continue making good memories this fall and then after, hopefully in professional football, a goal he’ll pursue “as long as I can,” he said, hopeful of following in Lauletta’s footsteps into the NFL. “It’s hard to get in there, and once you get in there, it’s even harder to stay. There’s a lot of work you have to put in.”

But there’s no reason to get ahead of himself. He’s still got a graduate certificate in human resources to finish in December through the School of Professional and Continuing Studies and one more season with his team to savor.

“I love playing football,” he said. “I love playing for the University of Richmond, and I love the guys that come here. I love being able to stay an extra year.”