Well-traveled Archbishop Murphy alum Victor Gabalis has found a home at Tarleton State University. (Tarleton State athletics)

Well-traveled Archbishop Murphy alum Victor Gabalis has found a home at Tarleton State University. (Tarleton State athletics)

Despite twists and turns, Victor Gabalis has finally found a home

After stops at Washington State and Utah Tech, the Archbishop Murphy alum has settled in at Tarleton State in Texas.

Victor Gabalis was fed up with his college football experience.

Fed up with the coaching changes. Fed up with the position battles. Fed up with transferring to different schools.

”With all the moving around the past couple years, I honestly hated college,” Gabalis admitted.

But the former Archbishop Murphy High School quarterback stuck it out through the trials and tribulations, and after a long and bumpy journey he’s finally found a home in Stephenville, Texas.

Gabalis, in his third attempt, is striving as an NCAA Division I quarterback as the full-time starter at Tarleton State University. And after a series of false starts through his first three years in college, Gabalis at long last is feeling settled.

“It feels similar to high school when I was at Archbishop Murphy,” Gabalis said. “Archbishop Murphy was probably the most impactful place of my life, and this place is pretty close to it. It’s similar to how I felt there, which allows me to be free and joyful in life.

“For the first time in college I have that feeling where I don’t want to leave.”

Gabalis, a 2020 graduate of Archbishop Murphy, is having a solid season as Tarleton State’s starter. In seven games the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder, who in his fourth year in college still has sophomore eligibility, is 109-for-211 passing for 1,467 yards and 12 touchdowns as he’s led the Texans to a 4-3 record (1-2 United Athletic Conference).

“We think he’s going to continue to get better and better with each week,” Tarleton State coach Todd Whitten said. “He hasn’t been anywhere for more than a year, and I think that stunted his growth a little bit. But he has a great work ethic, he’s extremely talented with a strong arm and quick release, and he’s a smart kid who came in with strong leadership qualities.”

Archbishop Murphy alum Victor Gabalis (11) took over starting quarterback duties at Tarleton State after previous stops at Washington State and Utah Tech. (Tarleton State athletics)

Archbishop Murphy alum Victor Gabalis (11) took over starting quarterback duties at Tarleton State after previous stops at Washington State and Utah Tech. (Tarleton State athletics)

However, Gabalis’ path took lots of twists and turns to arrive at this point.

Gabalis wasn’t a big-name recruit out of high school. Yes, his teams at Archbishop Murphy enjoyed success during his three seasons as the starter, reaching the Class 2A state semifinals in 2017 and the state quarters in 2019. However, those teams made their way offensively on the ground as much as they did through the air. So, when it came time to move to the next level, he accepted a preferred walk-on opportunity at Washington State.

At Washington State Gabalis made surprising progress for a walk-on quarterback. In 2021 he appeared in three games, including starting the second half of the Sun Bowl in place of the injured Jayden de Laura. However, after head coach Nick Rolovich and offensive coordinator Craig Stutzmann were fired for failing to comply with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, Gabalis decided to transfer. He ended up following Stutzmann to Utah Tech, where Stutzmann was hired as offensive coordinator.

At Utah Tech Gabalis found himself in a three-way time share at quarterback. He eventually moved to the front of the line, starting the final four games of the season and finishing 134-for-258 passing for 1,948 yards and 17 TDs. But once again he lost his offensive coordinator as Stutzmann left to become the wide receivers coach at Texas State. Since Stutzmann was no longer an offensive coordinator, Gabalis decided not to follow him this time.

“In the moment it was a struggle,” Gabalis, who didn’t need a waiver to transfer a second time because he declined a scholarship at Utah Tech, said about his travails during his first three years in college. “But it was so important for me and I’m actually very thankful for it. I had to learn how to understand failure, and that when it happens you have to fix it and not let it happen again. It created a thick skin for myself.”

During Gabalis’ four-game stint as the starter at Utah Tech, one of the games was against Tarleton State, a game the Trailblazers won 34-28 behind 272 yards passing and two touchdowns from Gabalis. That caught the attention of Whitten, who pounced once Gabalis entered the transfer portal.

”I liked him when he played against us,” Whitten said. “When he went into the portal we knew he was someone we wanted to check into. He’s an outstanding young man who works really hard, is a great student and is a talented quarterback. He just needed more reps under his belt.”

Victor Gabalis led Archbishop Murphy to two state playoff appearances as a starter before embarking on a long and bumpy journey as an NCAA Division I quarterback. (Tarleton State athletics)

Victor Gabalis led Archbishop Murphy to two state playoff appearances as a starter before embarking on a long and bumpy journey as an NCAA Division I quarterback. (Tarleton State athletics)

Gabalis wasn’t handed the starting position. He wasn’t even the only transfer the Texans brought in, as they also added Daniel Greek from Mississippi State. But Gabalis won the job during training camp as he adjusted well to Tarleton State’s vertical offense.

”It’s very different from the run and shoot (which Gabalis played under Stutzmann),” Gabalis said. “The run and shoot is really system-based, where you make it work based on what the defense gives you. This offense is more about guys running to green grass and making plays. There’s a lot of stuff that’s off-script, and that’s fun. It allows me to play free and fast, to not think as much and just react.”

Gabalis has had his highs and lows this season. He opened the season with back-to-back quality performances in victories over McNeese and North Alabama. But he also struggled in games against Texas Tech and Southeastern Louisiana. However, he bounced back with another solid performance last week in a heartbreaking double-overtime loss against Eastern Kentucky.

And if there’s anything Gabalis has learned during his collegiate journey, it’s how to deal with adversity.

“My relationship with Christ has allowed me to trust in the plan and understand the hard times and rough roads,” Gabalis said. “He put those blocks in the journey to help me become a stronger man, and that all stemmed from going to Archbishop Murphy.”

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