This was supposed to be his year.
The 6-3, 208-pound senior was regarded in the spring by ESPN Magazine “as one of three Heisman hopefuls in the State of Florida.”
Tony Moss of The Sports Network selected the Desoto, Texas product as the “Top Division 1-A Transfer Quarterback in 1-AA,” and Street and Smith labeled him as the “Top Newcomer In Division 1-AA.”
Quarterback Casey Printers, a three-year starter at Texas Christian University and veteran of three Bowl games, who transferred to Florida A&M last spring, looked that good in his new Rattlers uniform.
Printers escaped the enthrallment of the run-oriented offense that kept his throwing arm in shackles.
“TCU was a place that I couldn’t really expand my horizons as far as throwing the football,” Printers said.
In his first game against Miami, with the word Heisman dripping from the mouths of the Orange Bowl crowd, Printers disappointed the Rattler following.
He connected on only eight of his 22 attempts, totaling a mere 42 yards in his first half of action. Printers felt those numbers were inevitable.
“Somebody that actually knows football would understand exactly what went on and say ‘the guy (Printers) didn’t have a chance,'” Printers said.
Back-up quarterback Reggie Hayes replaced Printers in the second half, put the offense on his back and scored 17 unanswered points, which left 17 unanswered questions in the minds of the Rattler faithful. One was why couldn’t he, while the back-up could?
“When Reggie came into the game they had their reserves in there and their practice football players,” Joe said.
Printers added, “Reggie did an excellent job when his opportunity came. But he did not face the number one defense. He did not do it.”
Printers had to then prove that he was as good as he was hyped up to be.
And he did just that on Sept. 7, in the first home game against Morris Brown. He conducted the Rattler orchestra to the tune of a 64-6 win.
In a little more than two quarters, Printers completed 21 of 32 passes, thus passing for 229 yards, and accounted for a surreal six Rattler touchdowns.
“There wasn’t any surprise about the Morris Brown game because everybody on the team knows that Casey can get it done,” said junior defensive back Shedrick Copeland.
The next Saturday (Sept. 14) in the win against Morgan State, Printers again in the first half was living up to all his preseason acclamations, having passed for 195 yards when it happened late in the second quarter.
“I dropped back to pass and somebody came from my backside and landed on my ankle wrong,” said Printers, who then limped off the field with a serious high left ankle sprain.
That left ankle has been ailing him ever since.
He didn’t play again until the Oct. 5 loss. Against a belligerent South Carolina State pass rush, Printers re-aggravated that ankle before being taken out late in the second quarter.
The Bragg Stadium crowd erupted with cheers of joy as Printers limped to the locker room, while Reggie Hayes, the quarterback they saw win two straight games, strode onto the field. That didn’t bother Printers.
“I know that if I am doing well they are going to be behind me and if I’m doing bad than they are going to want somebody else,” said Printers, who hasn’t played since.
Printers is about 85 to 90 percent right now and won’t become 100 percent before the season’s end.
Coach Billy Joe has made it very clear that if Printers is healthy then he is the starter.
He hopes to come back strong enough this Saturday against North Carolina A&T, to showcase to his coaches, teammates, fans, NFL scouts, and most of all himself, that he can once again lead this offense to a lopsided victory.
This could still be his year, but with limited mobility, his run for success is going to be that much harder.