Star quarterback Robert McGee has left St. Anthony's High School and transferred to his hometown school in Shoreham-Wading River.
McGee, a senior who has committed to play lacrosse at Penn State, said he has thought about going back to Shoreham-Wading River for the past two years.
“I have been seriously considering going back home because I wasn’t happy in football or lacrosse,” McGee said. “It was really a combination of a lot of things. My parents were fully supportive in my decision. I just felt like I was letting them down by leaving the school because they invested so much money and time in St. Anthony’s. For the first three years they had to drive me back and forth to school because we had no busing from Wading River.”
McGee, 6-1 and 195 pounds, said he will be in uniform for the Wildcats (3-0) Friday night against Glenn at 6 p.m. and expects to play special teams.
"It's been a very emotional situation," said his father, Robert McGee. Jr. "We support our son 100%. He had just gotten an offer from Brown football, and he was struggling with whether he should be sticking it out with his teammates at St. Anthony's or making the change. We discussed the move quite a bit. We want him to have zero regrets. This was not easy at all -- it was an awful experience. The Shoreham administration has been great and the players have welcomed him in."
Shoreham-Wading River already has a star at quarterback in senior Xavier Arline. The Wildcats have a bye after Friday's game and will use that time to determine where McGee will play.
"I met with Coach [Aden] Smith and I'm going to work out at some different positions and see where I fit best for the team," McGee said. "Whatever works best for the Shoreham football team is good for me. I'll play wherever they want me."
Arline led the Wildcats to the Suffolk County title as a junior last season and has scored 13 touchdowns during the team's 3-0 start this year.
“I knew he was unhappy at St. Anthony’s,” Arline said. "We’re so excited to have him back in Shoreham. We’re best friends, played together when we were little through middle school. Robert’s my guy. He’s a game changer, a real likable guy and everyone out here knows him. I know he’s going through a lot of emotions right now because he built bonds with guys at St. Anthony’s over the years and that is difficult. I’ll try to smooth the transition as best I can and make him feel welcome.”
McGee started the first three games for the Friars this season and was named the CHSFL offensive player of the week after a 16-14 comeback win over Delbarton (N.J.) at MetLife Stadium two weeks ago. The Friars are off to a 1-2 start, losing to Franklin, the Maryland AAA state champion, 33-15, in the season’s home opener and last week to Cardinal Hayes, 46-17, on the road. McGee passed for 403 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions while rushing for 301 yards and two scores. He was sacked 17 times.
St. Anthony's coach Joe Minucci said it's difficult to lose a player as good as McGee.
“We’ve had a tough start with a young team and knew he wasn’t happy," Minucci said. "I nominated him for player of the week after our big win over Delbarton. We had a good conversation at our Monday night practice on what we needed to improve on with Robert, myself and one of our assistant coaches. We talked about what we needed to do to get better and to get the offense rolling and get a spark. I thought we left the meeting on a positive note.
“I got the unfortunate news the next morning that he was going to transfer,” Minucci said. “I had a short conversation with him and wished him the best of luck at Shoreham-Wading River. I’m sure the kids will miss Bobby McGee as a teammate and a friend in the building, but they understand we have more than half a football season together. They have got to bond together and make something of the season. McGee made a decision and we have to overcome it.”
Minucci said Greg Randall will take over as the team's starting quarterback for Friday night's game against Christ the King.
Tom Combs, the executive director of Suffolk County's governing body of interscholastic athletics, said a return-to-school-of-residence form was submitted for McGee by Mark Passamonte, the director of athletics for the Shoreham-Wading River School District.
“We received all the appropriate paperwork from the Shoreham district and it was approved by the school principal, athletic director and superintendent,” Combs said. “He was coming back to his school of residence from a private school. By New York State rules an athlete can return to his school of residence and be eligible to play – but can only do it one time during their high school career. And they need to meet the eligibility requirements to play sports.”
According to NYPHSAA rules, a football player is eligible to play in a game when he has 10 official practices. Participants are only allowed to play in 10 regular-season contests. McGee must play in three regular season games at Shoreham to be eligible for the postseason.
Passamonte confirmed that McGee started classes at Shoreham-Wading River Thursday morning and will join the Wildcats at practice in the afternoon.