The University of Maine was on Jack Webb’s short list of schools to attend when he graduated from Thornton Academy in 2018. He chose to attend Sacred Heart University instead because he was interested in that school’s sports media program.

Jack Webb

On Wednesday, however, Webb became a member of the UMaine football program, transferring from Sacred Heart. He was one of eight players to sign with Maine on the first day of the early signing period for NCAA Division I football.

“I’m just really excited about the opportunity to represent my home state and play for a great program,” said Webb, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive lineman. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play football.”

Webb, 20, is joining a program that lost perhaps its two best returning offensive linemen in the offseason. According to Maine Coach Nick Charlton, he’ll have the opportunity to compete for a position right away.

“Offensive line, naturally, is probably one of the tougher positions to jump into a new system and play, along with quarterback,” said Charlton. “But he will have an opportunity to do that. He’s a very smart individual, so he’ll pick it up. I know that.”

Of Maine’s eight recruits, three were transfers – Webb, safety/linebacker Vincent Thomas (Naval Academy) and kicker Richie Pekmezian (Indiana State). They will be immediately eligible to play in the Black Bears’ six-game spring season that begins in March.

Four of the eight recruits are defensive backs. Maine has about 10 scholarships available this year, and Charlton expects more signings in the upcoming weeks.

“We’re really excited about this class,” said Charlton. ” I keep telling these guys, and their families, that we were able to sign today, the class of 2021 has probably been through more than any class, really, in college football recruiting history. To go through a pandemic and everything that is going on this year and to get to this point, with limited roster sizes and scholarship limits, it’s really a testament to them and their families.”

Webb’s decision to transfer to Maine was fueled, partly, by the coronavirus pandemic. He has been taking all of his classes remotely and was unable to use the facilities for his academic program.

“It was not the same experience, and it wasn’t sitting right,” said Webb. “I missed home, and when I came home, I realized this is somewhere I wanted to be.”

So he applied to UMaine, and once he was accepted, he got in touch with Charlton and offensive line coach Pat Denecke. “I have played at the (Football Championship Subdivision) level, so I know what that’s like,” said Webb. “I know what to expect, what the level of play is. And I love football. So I contacted them, and luckily enough, I’m blessed that it worked out.”

Webb played one game on the offensive line for Sacred Heart in 2018. He also was on the field goal unit and was in Orono for the 2019 season opener, a game won by Maine, 42-14. With NCAA rules modified during the pandemic, Webb will not need to sit out a year despite being a Division I transfer.

In coming to Maine, he will be reunited with two of his best friends: former Thornton quarterback Mike Laverriere, now a tight end, and former Edward Little quarterback Grant Hartley, who he met while playing in the Lobster Bowl.

Charlton said the coaches spoke to both of them after Webb contacted the staff.

“The feedback was great,” said Charlton. “Everything points to really good things, and we’re excited to get him up here and get him back home.”

Now he’ll get a chance to compete for a spot on the offensive line. Another Maine native, Gunnar Docos, a senior from Harrison and Oxford Hills, “will definitely be a big part of everything,” said Charlton. “He’ll be back in a big way.”

Here’s a look at the other players who signed with Maine on Wednesday:

n Kahzir “Buggs” Brown, defensive back, Trenton (New Jersey) Central High. The 6-3, 190-pound Brown has great versatility and is able to play any secondary position. Last year, he had 23 tackles, three forced fumbles and two interceptions.

n Antonio Corsi, tight end, Ottawa, Ontario. The 6-3, 250-pound Corsi played for St. Francis High in Hamburg, New York, and was ranked as the 16th overall player in the state in the class of 2021. He led the state in receiving yards in 2019.

n Jabari Echols, defensive back, Mount St. Joseph High, Baltimore. The 6-foot, 180-pound Echols had seven interceptions in 2019, when he was a first-team all-conference player. He’s from the same high school as former UMaine cornerback Manny Patterson.

n Darius McKenzie, linebacker, Ottawa, Ontario. The 6-2, 230-pound McKenzie attended Clearwater Academy International in Florida. Before that, he was a first-team all-Canadian selection and a three-time defensive MVP at St. Patrick Catholic. Charlton compared him to current UMaine defensive standout Deshawn Stevens.

n Richie Pekmezian, kicker, Oceanport, New Jersey, Indiana State transfer. He was one of New Jersey’s top high school kickers in 2019, and has a field-goal range of 50-plus yards.

n Abdul Stewart, defensive back, Coatesville (Pennsylvania) High. The 6-1, 190-pound Stewart was a two-way all-state selection in 2019 and was elected team captain in 2020.

n Vince Thomas, safety/linebacker, Raleigh, North Carolina, Naval Academy transfer: The 5-10, 170-pound Thomas spent two seasons at the Naval Academy and is capable of playing a variety of positions.

Mike Lowe — 207-791-6422

[email protected]

Twitter: @MikeLowePPH

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