HERALD EXCLUSIVE: Albany State signs ex-Grambling State QB Rivers

Frank Rivers was Grambling State’s backup QB last season but still threw for a team-high seven touchdowns and 954 yards.

Frank Rivers was Grambling State’s backup QB last season but still threw for a team-high seven touchdowns and 954 yards.

ALBANY — Albany State’s cloudy quarterback picture is now a little bit clearer.

The Rams, who have been searching for a quarterback the entire offseason, have signed Grambling State transfer Frank Rivers, ASU coach Mike White confirmed to The Herald on Thursday.

Rivers, a rising junior, started eight games the last two years at Division I Grambling State and said he is excited to be the newest member of the ASU program.

“I am really happy to be here,” said Rivers, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound native of Fairfield, Ala. “I have been working out with the guys, and them and the coaches all accept me. This team gets a lot of support from the surrounding areas, so I am excited to see how this goes.”

It’s the announcement ASU fans have been waiting for after the Rams failed to make the playoffs last season for the first time since an NCAA postseason ban was lifted in 2004.

Quarterbacks David Kooi and Keenan Grissett combined for six touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, but both were seniors, leaving ASU with third-string Rodney Castlin as the lone QB on the roster with even the slightest playing experience.

Now they have Rivers, a proven talent who decided to transfer from Grambling after GSU head coach Doug Williams’ son, D.J. Williams, emerged as the starting QB.

Rivers started six games in 2011 and helped lead the Tigers to a SWAC championship. He threw for 967 yards and 10 TDs that season but also tossed 10 interceptions.

In 2012, Rivers started just two games but appeared in nine and finished the season as Grambling’s top passer with 954 yards, seven TDs and four interceptions.

After deciding to transfer, Rivers was pursued by Winston-Salem State, Edward Waters College, Fort Valley State and Benedict but ultimately decided on Albany.

And he believes he can take the Rams back to the playoffs and back to the top of the conference.

“After working out with the team, I know the defense will be pretty stout this year,” he said. “We have upperclassmen who are returning, so if we can just put some numbers up on offense I know our defense will put us in a position to win every time.”

Rivers is currently enrolled in summer school at Albany State and will also play baseball for the Rams. Last season at Grambling, Rivers, a relief pitcher, appeared in seven games and had an ERA of 9.00 with 1.2 strikeouts per inning.

It was on the gridiron, however, where Rivers shined and was one of the few bright spots on a 2012 Grambling team that finished 1-9 overall.

Now he arrives on an Albany State team that is still waiting to name its offensive coordinator after Uyl Joyner stepped down from the position in the spring to take a similar job at Dougherty High.

The Rams’ top two receivers from last year — Camilla native Jessie Atkins (553 yards, 2 TDs) and Orion Ponder (238 yards) — are back, and Rivers is already developing a chemistry with the duo.

“Those are two guys that we are leaning on going into the season,” said Franks, who was originally recruited out of high school by Murray State, Arkansas, Memphis, Samford and Arkansas State. “I like to throw the ball around and throw to a lot of different receivers. I like to keep all the receivers happy, but that keeps the defense off balance, too. You never know who might catch the ball.”

WFXL's Andrew Schnitker contributed to this report