Boomer Esiason Version 2.0?

Growing up in Islip Terrace, N.Y., it was only natural for Rob Calabrese to idolize hometown hero Boomer Esiason. But early in his career he learned he'd no longer be allowed to sport Esiason's No. 7 jersey; it had been retired by the local pee-wee league.


Now, a decade later, Calabrese is looking at the possibility of wearing another jersey Esiason, a 1979 East Islip graduate, once wore – that of the University of Maryland.

Calabrese, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback who is receiving serious interest from Maryland, Rutgers, UConn, Syracuse and Central Florida, visited Maryland this winter and had a chance to sit down and chat with Terps coach Ralph Friedgen for a good 15 minutes.

"We talked a lot about Boomer, actually," said Calabrese, who as a junior won the Boomer Esiason Award, given annually to Suffolk County's best quarterback. "We talked about school and other things, we really didn't talk much about football … It's a great program and the ACC is a great conference."

Calabrese last season passed for 1,500-plus yards and 14 touchdowns while also rushing for 450 yards and eight scores and leading his team to a 7-3 record. He also picked off six passes at free safety and passed for a school-record 392 yards in the county semifinals.

He doesn't have any firm offers yet but is expecting them to beginning coming in as he makes the rounds to summer camps, including Maryland's. He's also hoping to make it down for the spring game.

"I think I have a very strong arm, but when I get in trouble I can run a little bit, too," he said.

"He's our best all-around player," East Islip coach Sal Ciampi told Newsday. "He's the first kid in the weight room and the last one out. He runs really well and he was our fastest player. We expect big things again from him next year."

He's been hearing steadily from Maryland since the beginning of his junior season and relates well to Terps recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo, a fellow New Yorker.

"Coach Sollazzo and me talk a lot, he's a cool guy," Calabrese said. "He's funny."

Growing up in a region that doesn't have great college football tradition, he found himself following Notre Dame and whoever else was on TV most often. So he's wide open when it comes to picking a school, in terms of both the specifics of the program and the location.

"Anywhere, it doesn't matter. My parents will fly to come see me anywhere. If I like the school a lot, that's where I'll go," he said. "College Park was great. The campus is really big. There was a blizzard when we were there so we didn't get to see a lot, but I saw some of the facilities. The football stadium was nice and big and they said they were planning to expand it."

Rutgers and Central Florida seem like the primary competition for Calabrese at this point, though his stock could easily shoot up the charts with a strong summer. Maryland already needed to add a quarterback, but now with the likely transfer of redshirt freshman Jeremy Ricker, the Terps' hunt for top-notch signal caller will likely intensify and could expand to grabbing two quarterbacks instead of one.

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