MORGANTOWN — If you had asked Maverick Wolfley this time last year where he’d be, there was no chance he would have thought he’d be playing tight end at Akron under head coach Terry Bowden.
The Morgantown native was offered by WVU as a freshman at MHS and, he said, “It took me about 30 seconds to accept it.”
Committed to play for the Mountaineers throughout his entire high school career, Wolfley finished early to enroll at WVU in the spring. After going through all of spring camp, taking summer classes and with fall camp quickly approaching, a decision needed to be made.
“I never would have thought I would have to ask coach (Dana) Holgorsen for my release,” Wolfley said. “It’s where I grew up, but I feel like it was the best move for me.”
In late July, it was announced Wolfley was no long with the Mountaineers football program.
“Hands down, it was the toughest decision I ever had to make,” he said. “I had to make it within a two-day span or else I couldn’t enroll at whatever school I wanted to transfer to until the spring semester, so that’s when I decided I wanted to go to Akron.”
With moments to spare, Wolfley transferred to join the Zips and was able to enroll at the school for the fall semester, as well as join the football team. Due to NCAA transfer requirements, he could not play, but Bowden gave Wolfley a blue shirt.
Blue-shirt rules allow for unrecruited players to be awarded a scholarship at the start of freshman practice. They can practice with the team but won’t be allowed to play for a year. It allows a team to essentially borrow against next year’s scholarship total. There can be no official visit taken by the athlete, the coach didn’t visit the athlete at home, there was no National Letter of Intent signed and no form of athletic aid prior to arriving on campus.
In Wolfley’s case, this is exactly what happened. He was used on the defensive scout team most of the season, which didn’t come that easily.
“It was definitely tough,” he said. “I got moved around a good bit, and since I couldn’t play anyway, they needed guys to play different positions. Most of the time, I played nose tackle on the defensive line. I got double-teamed and I was pretty much a living tackle dummy.”
While at MHS, Wolfley became a top recruit because of his defensive abilities, specifically middle linebacker. While at WVU, he moved from linebacker to fullback. Once he went to Akron, he was originally a linebacker but has since moved to offense again, in a hybrid fullback/H-back/ tight end mold.
Wolfley played there most of the spring and he believes he caught the eyes of the coaching staff.
“I really think I showed them what I can do and hope I get to play a lot this season,” he said. “It sticks in my head that I wasn’t able to travel last year because I wasn’t eligible.”
The Zips won the Mid-American Conference East division and played for the MAC championship, but fell to Toledo. In the Boca Raton Bowl, Akron lost to Florida Atlantic.
However, it was a step in the right direction for the program, and Wolfley expects more steps forward this year.
“We’re going to be a lot better with a lot of returning guys that are always working hard,” he said.
Wolfley was awarded the “Unsung Hero” following Akron’s spring camp, given to a player who does his job well without getting the notoriety he deserves. While no official statistics were kept in Akron’s spring game, on April 21, Wolfley caught at least four passes and showed an ability to get tough yards.
“Maverick Wolfley is just a gamer,” Bowden said. “He catches the ball. He makes the extra yardage. He does the things he needs to do. He gives us a whole new element at the tight end position.”
Wolfley could have a chance to show off what he can do at the college level on Sept. 1, when the Zips travel to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers in a nationally televised game. It will kick off at 8 p.m., on FOX.
“I look forward to opening up against them, and now they have Scott Frost (at quarterback), so they’ll be excited, but so will we,” Wolfley said.
Wolfley is majoring in criminology and criminal justice.