ORONO — John McCabe is starting his third season with the University of Maine football team. Spencer Carey is one of the newest Black Bears, a member of the freshmen Class of 2017. Both central Maine natives are eager to begin contributing on the field for Maine, whether it’s this season or later.

Winslow’s McCabe, a 6-foot, 210 pound redshirt sophomore, is a linebacker. A Lawrence High School graduate, the 6-2, 207-pound Carey is working with Maine’s safeties.
The Black Bears open the season on Aug. 31 at Norfolk (Va.) State. Maine’s first home game of the season is Sept. 14, against Bryant.

“Johnny had a really good summer. He was up here all summer long. He’s playing our rover linebacker position,” Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove said of McCabe. “This will be a critical preseason for him, obviously, to be a playmaker and to get an opportunity on special teams and move up the depth chart.”

McCabe had surgery to repair a torn meniscus at the end of the preseason last year. The injury kept him out for half the season. The injury lingered throughout the season, and McCabe was never 100 percent.

“I’m 100 percent now. The knee’s back together,” McCabe said. “Hopefully, I can play some special teams.”

Added Cosgrove: “It was a bothersome injury. It was all fall long. Having that behind him certainly helps… His numbers in all the things we measure in the weight room have gone up. That’s a good sign.”

McCabe has three years of eligibility remaining.

“I’m still young,” McCabe said. “We have some older leadership. I think linebacker (playing time) will come in the next few years.”

Carey is barely a week into his college football career, and is adjusting to the game’s speed. A safety playing at this level has to make a his breaks earlier, or will be burned for a touchdown.

“The quarterbacks know exactly where to put the ball. You have to be there ready, or it’s going to go for six,” Carey said.

Cosgrove said he’d like to redshirt Carey this season, giving the young player a year to adjust to the college game while maintaining four years of eligibility.

“We tell all of our first year guys, this is not an overnight deal. We prefer to redshirt them. We prefer to have them as fifth-year seniors. A true freshman, if we’ve got to play him now, we’re probably not very good at the top end,” Cosgrove said.

Last month, Cosgrove attended the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl (his son, Matt, a freshman wide receiver for the Black Bears, played in the game) and was impressed with Carey’s performance in the game.

“I told a lot of people, I thought he was the best player on the field during the Shriner’s game,” Cosgrove said. “He was all over the field on defense, making tackles and running to the football. He really stood out.”

Carey knows his playing time is not imminent.

“I just need to get bigger, stronger, faster. I have great senior leaders in front of me with (Jamal) Clay and Khari (Al-Mateen). I just learn from them, watch what they’re doing. They do a great job helping me out when I have questions,” Carey said.

Added Cosgrove: “He has all the characteristics of a guy who’s going to be successful. He loves the game of football. He’s a hard-working kid with a very refreshing attitude. We’re going to learn a lot about him over the next year, and we’re going to find a place for him to play for us.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
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