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Midwest Quarterback Musing


First a quick note about blogging.  I saw the movie "State of Play" this weekend and the mainstream press character played by Russell Crowe makes great fun of bloggers as amateurs and lightweights.  It's a very good movie and you can certainly understand the sentiment from highly skilled, poorly paid (in general) professionals who are watching their industry implode as bloggers come out of the woodwork.  Imagine something similar happening in your line of work: I don't think you would appreciate it either. 

With that in mind I want to say for the record that I in no way consider myself a journalist, not even close.  I would never make that claim.   I'm a (dork) fan who likes Huskie sports, especially football, and enjoys sharing his uneducated opinions as a diversion from everyday life.  Hopefully the euphemistic banner atop my columns makes that clear.  I also want to reiterate how much I appreciate the great job the real press, i.e. the Chronicle and John Sahly, is doing in covering the Huskies.  To the ladies and gentlemen of the fourth estate: rock on, and may your newsprint long stain my fingers!   Now if you'll excuse me I have to go Twitter what I just had for dinner.....  

On to the topic at hand.  I always get a kick out of watching the comings and goings of college quarterbacks, probably because they come and go so much, certainly more than any other position.  I suppose it's the nature of the beast.  In order to play quarterback you need a keen sense of leadership, a burning need to be the leader, and it's tough to lead from the bench.  You can imagine the "this does not compute" messages rattling around their brains when they're stuck on the sideline, hence the desire to move on to better opportunities.  Plus they've got their family, friends and former teammates saying "Dude, how come you're not starting?".  That has to be  hard to take when you've always been the star.   

At NIU we've had several quarterbacks come and go in the recent past including Billy Lowe, former walkon Sean Ratay and Zach Ullrich to name but a few.  There have been several quarterback moves around the midwest recently, some you may have heard of, and I thought I would share what I've  heard.  Some of them are mildly connected to NIU and the MAC, others not.  Each one is a drama in its own right as these guys seek their destiny behind center.   

First let's cover the QBs I mentioned above since I brought them up.


Zach Ullrich was caught in a QB crunch at NIU a few years ago and left for D-III Wheaton College.  After acting as the primary backup his junior year he finally got the chance to start as a senior, whereupon he sustained a fairly serious injury in the third or fourth game of the season and was finished.  You have to feel sorry for the guy but that's the way it goes in football.


Billy Lowe left NIU after one season for FCS school Georgia Southern, where he too sustained a serious injury.  He was off their roster in 08 but is back on it for 09 (the last time I checked anyway) so here's hoping Billy can stay healthy and get on the field at some point. 


Shaun Ratay walked on at NIU and left after one season.  He then walked on at Illinois State, which was odd because there were three or four quarterbacks in his class there, then left ISU as well.  He turned up at D-III Elmhurst College where he played some tight end in 08, even catching a TD pass.  Last year's starter graduated so Ratay is now competing for the starting job in spring camp.


Of course we all know the saga of Demetrius Jones, who left Notre Dame and enrolled at NIU for about a week, then moved on to Cincinnati where he is now playing linebacker.  Probably not exactly what he had planned coming out of high school. 


The state of Michigan merits its own category, maybe even it's own column.  Here are a few QB moves of note. 

Keith Nichol, a highly rated prospect from the class of 07, committed to Oklahoma where he lost out to Sam Bradford.  No shame there.  Since Bradford has a stranglehold on the Oklahoma job Nichol transferred to Michigan State, which is very close to his home.  Upon Nichol's arrival two incumbent MSU quarterbacks left, but that's beside the point.  See how this works though?  They no doubt caused consternation when they arrived at their new schools.  It just goes on and on.  Anyway, MSU's 08 starter graduated so Nichol is competing for the MSU starting job with Kirk Cousins, who the Huskies offered in 07.  Moral of the story: Cousins should have signed with the Huskies.  Just kidding, he seems to be holding his own at MSU. 

Justin Siller, who played his high school ball in Michigan, was recently booted off the Purdue team for academic problems.  He's eligible to return in 10 so it will be interesting to see if he does that or goes somewhere in the state of Michigan like EMU.  The same with James Stallons, an 07 recruit at Wisconsin who recently left due to his position on the depth chart, i.e. the bottom.  His high school is less than an hour from EMU so that might be a destination for him.  Maybe Siller and Stallons will both go there and be caught in another QB crunch!

Steven Threet, ex of Michigan, is another QB from the state of Michigan looking for a new home.  EMU could have the most loaded roster in MAC history, I'm just saying.  Actually, D-II Grand Valley State could be a nice destination for one of these guys.  A nice program, close to home, and they don't have to burn a year of eligibility to go there. 


Let's slide down to Indiana.  Remember Calvin Schmidtke, the high profile recruit from the state of Washington who originally committed to Washington State but had to leave because of some kind of problem and ended up at Indiana State of all places?  He actually played against us in Huskie Stadium last fall.  Well, trouble continues to find him as he's been booted off the ISU team for some kind of off-field altercation.  Maybe Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man" is his theme song, or should be.  So where in the heck to you go when you've been kicked off an FCS team that's lost like 44 of its  last 45 games?  My guess is he'll try to get it together at a JC somewhere but wherever he goes he'll need to grow up a  lot.  He had trouble in high school and again in college and the track record does not look good. 

Here's an Indiana connection I just discovered yesterday.  Ball State recruited a QB for their class of 08 named Paul McIntosh, a great dual threat guy.  In fact he was the state of Indiana's Mr. Football for 2007.  At the last minute McIntosh decommitted from BSU to go to Army, I kid you not.  I have great respect for Army and West Point but their football team stinks and they throw the ball like zero to three times a game, not a logical destination for a QB of his stature.  He probably felt a patriotic tug but still.  Some of this must have clicked into place for McIntosh because he left West Point in September of 08 and ended up at, drum roll please, Southern Illinois University, where he tore it up in their spring game this weekend.

McIntosh was a great pickup for SIU, those lucky Saluki dogs.  They have a good starter who's a junior but McIntosh seems to have jumped ahead of sophomore Bobby Brenneisen.  Brenneisen was a record-setting QB in Springfield who won two state championships and was on NIU recruiting radar at one point.  Doesn't sound like a guy who'll be content holding a clipboard so we'll see where he ends up. 


I can go on and on as there are tons of these stories out there.  Let me end with a couple of cautionary tales. 

Sean Hakes was Akron's QB recruit in 06.  He came out of Texas where he led his high school team to two state championships.  He left Akron after one year because he didn't like their offense.  I think they got a new offensive coordinator.  Hakes spent a season at a JUCO and moved on to FCS powerhouse Delaware.  Good move, right, especially with Joe Flacco moving on to the NFL?  Except then Rob Schoenhoft of Ohio State transferred to Delaware due to the arrival at OSU of Terrelle Pryor (again with the ripple effect).  It gets better.  Now, Penn State's Pat Devlin, one of the top prospects in the country, has also transferred to Delaware because he got sick of waiting behind Darryl Clark!  Yikes.  Maybe that Akron offense isn't so bad after all...

The biggest cautionary tale of all is of course that of Mitch Mustain, considered the top recruit in the country in 06.  He started several games at Arkansas as a true freshman and left when all hell broke loose in the well-documented dustup with helicopter parents down there.  Mustain transferred to USC where he is now a junior and third on the depth chart behind a sophomore and a true freshman.  In a word, not good.  It goes to show you it's always good to make the best of it if you can.