published Friday, February 11th, 2011

Greeson: McEntee a passing fad, truly

Johnny McEntee has never thrown a pass for Connecticut, but the redshirt sophomore is college football's hottest quarterback.

That's the power of the Internet.

McEntee, a former walk-on who is the Huskies' third-string quarterback, is an overnight sensation after starring in the YouTube video "Johnny Mac Trick Shot Quarterback" that was posted earlier this week and is speeding toward 2 million views. Here's betting he'll be on Letterman or Conan by the end of the month.

Johnny Mac: UCONN's Trick Shot Quarterback

"It's been crazy," McEntee said Thursday during a phone conversation that was slotted between interviews with media outlets in Japan and London. "Truthfully, it started because our women's basketball team has a trick-shot video and some of us thought we should do one to represent Huskies football."

The worldwide interest in the video, which includes some wildly entertaining and difficult-to-believe passes, has generated two primary questions. First, how in the world can the guy making these out-of-this-world throws be third-string? And second, is the video real and how much editing went into it?

McEntee was hesitant to discuss the depth chart. He'll battle this spring for new UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni, who by now knows he has at least one super-accurate quarterback on the roster.

McEntee was emphatic about the video's authenticity, however. He admitted to needing several takes on a lot of throws -- he said the final one on the video, from the middle-deck seats across Gampel Pavillion into a basketball goal, needed 20-30 takes -- but that a lot of the shots were one-and-done.

"We shot it in a day," McEntee said. "The stuff in Gampel [UConn's basketball arena] was the toughest. Some shots need multiple takes, but it's all real."

If you have not seen the video, know it's a compilation of almost any crazy throw imaginable.

The throw from the second story, over the net into the bucket of tennis balls -- check.

The throw off one foot and nailing each upright and the crossbar -- check.

The throw that knocks a water bottle off a teammate's head, deflects a football out of midair, breaks a flying glass plate and knocks the Domino's sign off a moving Nissan Pathfinder -- check, check, check and check.

"It's been crazy, no doubt," UConn sports information director Mike Enright said of the interest before saying most of the trick throws were completed in fewer than three or four takes. "But as I was telling Coach Pasqualoni, these things generally have a shelf life of like 48 hours and then the next one comes along."

Like most crazy notions that become pop culture, there is a little history and some necessity that found its way into the hatching of the idea for McEntee and Co.

McEntee said he's always practiced throwing footballs in garbage cans and buckets, so those shots were relatively easy. In another scene, he throws a football roughly 30 yards and bounces it into the bar that opens the door to the Huskies' indoor practice facility. Then he does it again.

"We kind of got tired of going over there and opening the door every time someone wanted in," he said, "so opening the door with a football is something I've been doing for a while."

There are some UConn player cameos in the video, but McEntee said the real assistance from his teammates came by the grassroots marketing campaign that turned the video from a Facebook find to an Internet instant classic.

"My teammates have been really supportive of this, and really they're the ones that started sending it out and posting it," McEntee said, "and from there it's kind of exploded."

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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