Then the former ETSU quarterback’s phone rang.
Suddenly, Herink was a football player again.
The popular lefty who quarterbacked the Bucs to a share of the Southern Conference championship last fall is headed overseas to play and coach for the Vienna Vikings. He leaves on Sunday.
“When I got the call, I thought ‘Why not spend the next few months in Austria,’ ” Herink said Tuesday. “It’s a great opportunity to continue to play and, more importantly, hone my abilities as a coach while I get to see a different part of the world and experience a new culture.”
American football is played in more than 30 European countries. The Vikings are known as one of the top teams in Europe with five Eurobowl championships, the most recent one in 2013. Vienna has won the Austrian national championship 14 times since the team was founded in 1983.
Herink started every game for ETSU during the first three years of his college career. He lost the starting job to transfer Logan Marchi at the start of his senior year, but he famously came off the bench in a game against Furman and led the Bucs to a rousing come-from-behind victory. He was the starter the rest of the way and helped the team make the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“This is another chance to play football, which is cool,” Herink said. “When you’re playing football, most of the time you’re trying to achieve something. In high school you’re trying to get a college scholarship. In college you’re trying to make all-conference or make the NFL. Sometimes you lose sight of playing for the love of the game. This is the one time in my life I get to do that.”
The Vikings are already near the end of their training camp, so Herink will have some making up to do. The team’s previous quarterback, Kevin Burke, left Austria when he was signed by the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football last week. That created an opening and Herink got the call. The team opens the season March 16 against the Prague Black Panthers.
“I was training for the pro day at ETSU,” Herink said. “I only have one crack at it so I was staying in shape. The timing couldn’t have worked out better. The season will be over July 23 and I can come back and get a job coaching.”
Herink said his new gig will be like studying abroad for football.
“I need to take it seriously, learn the playbook,” he said. “The opportunity to help coach was really intriguing. I’ll be homesick, I’m sure. I’ve lived in Tennessee pretty much my whole life. I know no one over there. It’ll be a culture shock, but I’m looking forward to it.”