Ochs knows a decision has to be made

With Doug Flutie out of the picture in San Diego, a door has seemingly opened for a quarterback. Cleo Lemon is on the rise up the depth chart while a new addition, Craig Ochs, is a willing participant in the battle for the third spot on the depth chart. As Ochs explains, the Drew Brees – Philip Rivers situation has to play itself out at some point and Ochs is ready to fill the gap it creates.

Realistically, Craig Ochs understands that Philip Rivers and Drew Brees will remain on the roster through 2005. If the cookie crumbles after the year and only one remains, Ochs sees an enviable position for himself.

While most quarterbacks would shy away from the mess in San Diego, where two quarterbacks of starting caliber reign, Ochs dove right in.

A man of many words, Ochs knows that the NFL is a business and money will inevitably enter the equation.

"With Brees coming off the kind of year he had, he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league," Ochs began. "You've got Philip Rivers, who has all the potential to be a great quarterback, obviously. Finances are eventually going to force one of the guys out. They're both high-priced guys to keep around. And of course there's Cleo Lemon, who's a very good athlete and who was on the roster.

"But all that being said, the fact that there's so much money tied up in Brees and Rivers, I didn't feel like they were in a great position to get a free agent quarterback or another quarterback in there, so I feel that numbers-wise it works out well for me, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to compete."

The Montana quarterback completed 68.6 percent of his passes as a senior, 308-for-449, for 3,804 yards while compiling 33 touchdowns to eight interceptions.

In six games, Ochs completion percentage was at 70 percent or better en route to leading his team to the Division I-AA Championship game.

The former Colorado signal caller made it into the record books with the Buffaloes, despite playing there just parts of two seasons. He is ranked eighth on Colorado's all-time charts in passing yards (2,998), seventh in completions (244), ninth in attempts (411), eighth in touchdown passes (14) and 10th in total offense (3,188). He became the fastest passer to 2,000 yards in CU history, doing so in just nine games.

A devout Christian, Ochs left Colorado after personal differences with his head coach. The 6-foot-2 quarterback felt there was a miscommunication between them and while leading a prayer after a practice, head coach Gary Barnett interrupted the congregation, the last straw that prompted Ochs to leave the school.

Now, his new chapter in life is filled with excitement.

The decision to come out west was easy, according to Ochs.

"It was really a very easy decision," he said. "Coach Brian Schottenheimer had called me several times leading up to the draft as well as the Sunday morning before the second day of the draft. He expressed to me that the Chargers were interested in me and that they'd try to take me as a late-round pick, but that if they didn't and that if I wasn't picked up by someone else that I would consider coming there.

"He called me several times throughout the day and I got to feel very comfortable with him. By the time the seventh round came around, it was obvious to me, mainly because the draft was going so slowly for quarterbacks that I was going to be a free agent. That was great because I was excited about going to San Diego. A couple of other teams called, but it was really a no-brainer for me, first of all because of Coach Schottenheimer's interest in me, and also because it's a good situation for a young quarterback. Not to mention that it's a wonderful place to live. It really worked out to be a wonderful thing for me."

The Schottenheimer family is also one of faith and the byproduct of that was how Brian Schottenheimer dealt with the quarterback leading up to his signing.

He laid it straight and it was up to Ochs to decide.

"I still feel that he was very forthright with me, very honest with me, and that's the number one thing, with a player and coach, that you have to expect," Ochs said, weeks after the call transpired. "He never tried to talk me up or blow smoke into my mind, but at the same time he said that he liked me and looked forward to the opportunity to coach me. I appreciated that. He was honest that I'd have to come down there and work hard to make the team. I'm excited to do that, God willing make the team, and hopefully be a Charger for a long time to come."

The Chargers wouldn't have taken him if he thought any other way.


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