From high school quarterback to fullback. Not the ordinary transition, but when you hear Mark Giubilato talk about what he loves about football—and even more specifically how he likes to play offense, it sounds like a no-brainer.
Giubilato started off as a linebacker when he came to Pitt as a mid-year enrollee in January 2010.
Two years, three months and three coaches later, Giubilato has moved from linebacker to hybrid and now straight-up fullback, and is finding himself in a battle to become Pitt's starting fullback this year.
He was a pleasant surprise when he came to Pitt as a preferred walk-on. He did have some offers coming out of St. Joseph's Prep. He threw for 1,200 yards and accounted for 15 total touchdowns, leading his team to an 8-4 record and an appearance in the Philadelphia Catholic League semifinals. It was his only year starting at quarterback, and he took a different path to get to Pitt from there.
"I got offered by Temple out of high school at the end of my junior year," Giubilato said. "I committed after a week. My high school coach really wanted me to commit. I talked about it with my dad, and I decided to commit. I kind of kept my options open. I was looking at other schools. At the end of the (senior) year, I had a pretty good year. I was talking to lot of schools like Rutgers and the Naval Academy, Pitt obviously, Connecticut."
He took his talents to Milford Academy, where he started at quarterback there as well. He led Milford to an 8-5 record, throwing for over 1,000 yards and accounting for 17 touchdowns.
"I decided since I was only a one-year starter in high school to take another semester at prep school," Giubilato said. "Out of there, I wanted to go somewhere in January. I got offered by the Naval Academy to play quarterback, but I was going to have to wait until the following fall. I wasn't going to do anything for six months."
Even though he was throwing, he actually considers himself a running quarterback. The offer from Navy was intriguing, because he knew he would have that opportunity to run the ball out of their wishbone offense.
"The Naval Academy has that wishbone offense, which for me as a quarterback was perfect," Giubilato said. "It was as a downhill runner. I can throw the ball too, but my main asset was running the ball."
Then, Pitt came along, with the possibility of him joining the team as a preferred walk-on. Pitt was a school he had his sights set on, and despite other scholarship offers, he decided that's where he wanted to take his talents to.
"My prep school coach called me one morning and asked if I was interested in going to Pitt for a walk-on, being able to earn a scholarship in the future," Giubilato said. "I talked about it with my dad and everything, and I always really wanted to go to Pitt. I loved Pitt from the first day when I visited. I kind of took it as an opportunity. My dad said he'd pay for a few semesters if that's where I really wanted to go. My heart was so set on Pitt. At the end of the day, it was a no-brainer. I knew I could play here. I just had to keep working hard."
Little did he know then that he would end up at fullback, with a good opportunity to start in a position that suits his talents. The more he has worked in at the fullback spot this spring, the more he likes it and feels natural at it. He talks about how being a quarterback translates into being a fullback in this new offense.
"Honestly, in high school, I was a quarterback, but I was a little bit too aggressive to be a quarterback," Giubilato said. "When I was running the ball, I was always looking for someone to run over instead of dodging people. Even playing defensive back, I'd fly up way too fast. Our coaches would always say, 'chill out, you're going to hurt yourself.' I always really liked contact.
"I kind of always loved offense. I can really read defenses and everything, which has really helped since I moved to full back with run reads and everything. I ran the ball a lot in high school. This last year, experience-wise even though I didn't play a lot when I moved to offense, just getting in some games and seeing the speed of the game and practicing against guys a the top level really helped me adjust. I kind of eased my way into it. This spring, I just took it full force. I've gotten a lot of reps, and I feel like I've really progressed from the beginning to now with everything. Fullback is awesome."
Just like with moving around to a few positions before settling in on what looks to be his permanent home, going through three different coaching changes has also been a bit natural as well.
"The thing is with the new coaches, you just have to be in here watching as much film as possible," Giubilato said. "Me and Hubie Graham are really close. As soon as Coach Chryst was hired, we were in here every day seven days a week, watching film constantly. Even guys like Tino, Trey Anderson, Mark Myers, we were in here all the time learning the new offense. It was pretty much the same thing we did with Coach Graham--as soon as he came in here, we had to learn a new offense. It was nothing new for us having to learn a new offense. I've been here two years and three months and in three different systems. It is what it is."