Record-Setting Quarterback Ready For Big Leap

Nobody in the history of college football has thrown for more touchdown passes than Alex Tanney. The Monmouth College star tore up Division III, but can he compete in the NFL? The signs are encouraging.

In the last five NFL drafts, six players have been plucked from the Division III ranks.

That recent list figures to grow by one name in a month, when Monmouth quarterback Alex Tanney hears his name called.

Nobody in the history of college football has thrown more touchdown passes than Tanney's 157. Not the top quarterbacks in this draft, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Not Houston's Case Keenum or Boise State's Kellen Moore. Not two prolific passers with Packers ties, Graham Harrell or Ty Detmer.

"When you put it that way, it sounds pretty good," Tanney said. "I don't think that's really hit me yet. Maybe when I'm older it'll be something I can look back at and really appreciate, but we had great success at Monmouth and those records came with all the wins we had."

Tanney (¬6-foot-3) was a two-time finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy – Division III's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. His 14,249 passing yards and 32 games with at least 300 passing yards are Division III records. He completed more than 70 percent of his passes in each of his final two full seasons in college. His passer rating, using the NFL's system as a measuring stick, was 115.8.

Of course, the off-the-cuff response is Tanney piled up all of those amazing numbers against a bunch of guys who won't get a sniff of professional football.

"I've always used that as motivation," Tanney said. "I heard the same thing coming out of high school (Lexington High in Normal, Ill.). I played at a small school and had good success and put up good numbers but didn't receive much Division I attention — Illinois State was really the only school that recruited me. So, I heard the same thing then, that I was playing against low-level competition and the numbers didn't really mean too much. I came to Monmouth and I put up good numbers and had success but still heard the same thing."

Tanney put up tremendous numbers from the get-go. After throwing for 2,678 yards with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions as a freshman in 2007, Tanney piled up an astounding 50 touchdown passes as a sophomore. NFL scouts caught wind of Tanney as a junior, when he threw for at least 300 yards in 10 of 11 games and finished with 3,856 yards and 44 touchdowns.

Poised for a banner senior season, Tanney suffered a season-ending shoulder injury on the third play of the second game of the season. A torn AC joint – the same injury sustained at Oklahoma by Rams quarterback Sam Bradford – sidelined him for the first time since he started playing football in third grade.

"That was definitely the hardest thing I've ever been through," Tanney said. "I was starting to get interest (from scouts) and I was out for the whole year. It was pretty depressing but I learned a lot from the injury."

The NCAA awarded Tanney a fifth year of eligibility, and the five-year captain responded with 3,867 yards, 38 touchdowns and 71.5 percent accuracy. For his career, he threw 157 touchdowns against just 30 interceptions. In 47 career games, he hit the 300-yard mark 32 times. He led the Fighting Scots to three Midwest Conference titles and a 2-3 record in playoff games.

After the season, Tanney was selected for the Players Classic all-star game, where he impressed scouts with his arm, accuracy and intelligence, as well as his ability to compete with and against NFL-caliber players.

"I think that all-star game helped clear some things up," he said.

To get ready for the draft, Tanney has been working with former NFL quarterback Chad Pennington at TEST Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.

"Mechanically, my release was good, it was just my feet," Tanney said. "I was in a lot of shotgun stuff, a lot of catch-and-throw, quick-game stuff. I hadn't really been under center too much, so we did a lot of five-step, seven-step, play-action-type stuff, he really helped me out. Then we went on the board a couple times a week and that helped a lot, too."

His work has paid off. Tanney impressed scouts again after throwing about 45 passes at Northwestern's pro day earlier this month.

"It's been kind of crazy," Tanney said. "Being a little kid, it's something I always wanted to do, but when I went to Monmouth, I played basketball and football and it was never something I really thought of. I started to gain some interest my junior year and I thought maybe it was something I might be able to pursue."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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