116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty never has seen the pink locker room, but he's spent hours of his life cleaning up Kinnick Stadium.
Like all athletes in the Iowa City Community School District, McNulty cleared sections of cups, peanuts and garbage on Sunday mornings after Iowa football games. That was part of the responsibility for playing football at Iowa City High.
'I just remember pulling up and hearing the noises of the leaf blowers and being really early in the morning,” he said.
McNulty, a senior, will dress in Iowa's famous visiting locker room this Saturday as he leads the Mean Green (0-2) against the Hawkeyes (3-0). It's a challenge he never expected when he left Iowa City to play for Coach Dan McCarney, but it's one for which he's prepared.
'I'm excited for the opportunity,” McNulty said. 'We know that we have a tough opponent, and they're off to a really great start this year. We have a lot of work in front of us.”
It's an unusual journey from Iowa City High to North Texas, but McNulty has made it work. In high school, McNulty backed up A.J. Derby on the Little Hawks' 2009 Class 4A title team and then led City High to the 4A title game the following year. As a senior, McNulty was a first-team all-state utility player, passing for 1,438 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushing for 1,137 yards and 14 scores.
But there was more to McNulty than just statistics. He had qualities that enabled players to follow him.
Iowa junior offensive lineman Steve Ferentz competed alongside McNulty at Iowa City High. In a game against Cedar Rapids Xavier, Ferentz recalled how McNulty completed five of six passes on a 70-yard drive lasting 63 seconds in a last-second victory.
'Just the way he orchestrated everything, it was incredible,” Steve Ferentz said. 'For a high school quarterback, we didn't throw the ball very often but at a time we really needed it, he was right on target the whole way down the field. He managed the clock, he managed everything and got everyone in the right places. It was really impressive.
'I'd say even to this day, he's one of the best guys I played with, just as a leader. It really is a privilege to play with a guy like Andrew McNulty. It was awesome.”
McNulty's characteristics in high school also caught the attention of Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz.
'When Andrew was playing in high school, he was a really good player,” Coach Ferentz said. 'Just an all-around, versatile ... a guy that had great judgment, was really poised and very dangerous.”
Neither Iowa nor Iowa State offered McNulty a scholarship, so in swooped McCarney, who became North Texas' head coach after the 2010 season. McCarney played football at Iowa with McNulty's father, Jim, and the two remain friends. As a youth, McNulty attended some of McCarney's Iowa State football camps.
McNulty's versatility led some schools to consider shifting his position. McNulty's relationship with McCarney helped kick-start their communication, but the commitment was sealed after McCarney allowed McNulty to stay at quarterback.
'I always thought he had good talent and he had off-the-charts character and off-the-charts intangibles,” McCarney said.
McNulty played sparingly in three games as a true freshman at North Texas but scored on a 10-yard run on his first career carry. He red-shirted in 2012 and saw action in eight games his sophomore season. Last year he started North Texas' final six games. He played in 10 overall, completing 110 of 202 passes for 1,295 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 45 yards - 164 before sacks - and two scores.
This year McNulty has thrown for 431 yards, two scores and three interceptions. Last week against Rice, he passed for a career-high 303 yards and both touchdowns. He and receiver Carlos Harris hooked up for a 93-yard TD pass, the sixth-longest play in school history.
McCarney praised McNulty's toughness and said 'Andrew did a lot of good things” against Rice. McCarney, also an Iowa City native, recognizes this game is special for McNulty.
'He's going to have to play real well this week,” McCarney said. 'But I don't want him bearing any more weight than a normal starting quarterback needs to on any football team, regardless of where you grew up at or where you came from.”
Opportunities to see friends and family are limited for McNulty, but he considers this week a business trip despite the hometown feel.
'In an ideal world you'd spend a little bit more time with (my family), but at the same time we're there to play a football game and try to win the football game,” he said. 'That's my main goal, my main concern. I love that I get to have some friends and family in the stadium to watch us play, but we're worried about the game.”
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