Quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Bruce Gradkowski, Chad Pennington, and Charlie Batch have all made solid careers in the National Football League with one thing in common, the Mid-American Conference. Over the past few decades, the MAC has become well recognized for producing solid NFL talent despite the applied "Mid-Major" title. In 2016, there appears to be yet another upward trend in conference quarterbacks. Three very capable MAC West programs: Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Toledo have all been led by their quarterback play this season.
As Western Michigan climbed to their first ever Associated Press Top-25 ranking, what went virtually unnoticed was the play of quarterback, Zach Terrell. Terrell, a former two-star quarterback out of Fort Wayne, Ind. who struggled to receive collegiate offers, now ranks amongst the nation's best in several statistical categories. In fact, Terrell ranks No. 23 in the country in passing yards and No. 8 nationally in passing touchdowns with 20. Aside from the national accolades, the senior has thrown only one interception this fall while also ranking top-three in completion percentage (72.2%). As his Bronco career comes to an end, Terrell is certainly making a name for himself in Kalamazoo. As the wins keep coming, more attention is garnished to the gunslinger.
In Mount Pleasant, the Central Michigan Chippewas may not be exceeding expectations at 5-3 overall but a great season nonetheless. Head coach John Bonamego and the Chips have been led by quarterback Cooper Rush who once upon a time was a three-star quarterback out of Lansing Catholic High School (Mich.) with little collegiate interest. Now, Rush is tied for No. 11 nationally with 19 touchdown passes and is also No. 11 in passing yardage with 2,289 yards in eight games this fall. Rush may not have the elite wide receiving core found in Toledo or Kalamazoo, but he has been able to lead the Chippewa offense to solid numbers thus far in 2016. Rush, a six-three senior fits the mold of a NFL quarterback due to the pro-style offense run by Central Michigan. The arm strength and decision making is there as his Chippewa career slowly comes to an end following this season.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the entire Mid-American Conference this fall has been redshirt-junior Logan Woodside and the Toledo Rockets. In the offseason, all of the talk was about the first-year head coach in Jason Candle, several offensive starters graduating, and other distracting questions regarding their 2016 expectations. That hasn't hindered the Rockets and Woodside, however. In seven games this season, the Kentucky native has thrown for 28 touchdowns, good for No. 1 nationally and putting him one away from the Toledo Football record set by former Pittsburgh Steeler, Bruce Gradkowski in 2003 and 2005. Woodside has also thrown for at least four touchdowns in the past six games, which is incredible but we haven't even mentioned the rest of the story. After redshirting in 2015, Woodside received training with former NFL quarterback, Jeff Garcia and former Rocket great, Bruce Gradkowski. While that story is coming in days to come, Woodside now finds himself top ten in nearly every statistical category so far this season despite only playing seven games. Woodside ranks No. 9 in passing yards per game with 327 plus No. 7 in the country in yards per completion (14.98 YPC) and lastly, No. 1 in the nation in passing efficiency with a 200.8 pass efficiency rating. Now that we have the stats, you can see why the Rockets are 6-1 overall. Sure, there are other reasons, stellar defensive play and a great running game. However, Logan Woodside has exceeded expectations and then some in 2016. Beyond the statistics, Woodside has become a true leader this fall as just a junior, with another season yet to come in the Glass City.
So there you have it, three MAC programs having fantastic seasons through unbelievable quarterback play. Only time will tell if Cooper Rush, Zach Terrell and Logan Woodside are the next Mid-American Conference greats to play on Sunday but one thing is for certain, they're on the right path. Isn't MACtion fun?
Toledo Scout is your premiere source for Toledo Rocket Football and Basketball team & recruiting news, analysis, and forums. To become a premium subscriber - click HERE. Your membership includes premium forums, premium interviews/content, and in-depth analysis regarding recruiting and programs.