ORONO — University of Maine football coach Jack Cosgrove delivered a harsh message to Dan Collins this week.

You can be a “knucklehead” or you can be a quarterback. But you can’t be both.

Now, it’s up to Collins to undo the breach of trust he created last weekend when he was one of four players cited for violating alcohol policy at Acadia National Park.

“It’s a poor reflection on him and his family, and we’re a part of his family,” Cosgrove said Friday. “Danny should know better. I don’t have a hard time being clear or black and white with our guys. That’s easy for me. So he got it.”

Collins is a redshirt sophomore vying to become the Black Bears’ starting quarterback when training camp opens Aug. 4. The 20-year-old was en route to his home in New Jersey on Friday afternoon, but before departing he made sure to clear the air with his teammates.

“The first thing I thought about was my team after the incident. I don’t want to ever see my guys have to answer to anybody or feel like I let them down,” Collins said in a phone interview. “So before I left I made sure that we were all on the same page. I talked to them and tried to get them to understand. They kind of gave me some feedback and patted me on the back. And we’re over it all and moving forward.”

Collins and about 70 Black Bear football players have spent the summer in Orono working out, watching film and preparing for the coming season. Wide receiver Damarr Aultman and cornerback Axel Ofori both praised Collins for his leadership.

Cosgrove, who has declared the quarterback competition an open race between Collins and redshirt freshmen Kellen Croce and Dan Hoffer, said Collins has compromised that leadership by being cited for underage drinking at Sand Beach. Redshirt freshman linebacker Benjamin Davis and sophomore tight end Sean Reuss, also 20, received the same citation. Senior nose tackle Matthew Wilson, 21, was cited for drinking in an area of the park where alcohol is not allowed. All violations are punishable by a fine, and Maine Athletic Director Karlton Creech said Thursday that the players will be required to perform community service projects under the university’s student-athlete code of conduct.

Cosgrove said all four players came forward to inform him of the infractions and have spoken to the team. But for Collins, attempting to secure the most important spot on the squad, the misbehavior and the timing of it was particularly objectionable.

“Respect and trust is the concrete of any organization. Actions like that shake it up a little bit,” Cosgrove said. “But I always think that it can be reacquired. As long as I’ve been working with 18- to 22-year-olds, sometimes knucklehead situations like this can be the best thing that ever happened to them.

“They know the first place they need to go is back into the soul of the team. Because they want more than anything to be respected and trusted. Danny knows that, and he did that.”

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH

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