Second Stringers: Former OVAC signal callers excelling at collegiate level


Zach Collaros led Steubenville to a 30-0 record as a starter and back-to-back Division III state titles

Traditionally, when you think Ohio Valley Athletic Conference,
you think of a competitive league without many blue chip recruits.
Most teams have been run-oriented and for this reason, not many OVAC stars have
entered college as a touted quarterback recruit. Times are changing.

Traditionally, when you think of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, you think of a very competitive league without many blue chip recruits. Most teams in the conference have been three yards and a cloud of dust since any of us can remember. For this reason, not many OVAC stars have entered the college ranks as a highly touted recruit at the quarterback position. Two recent athletes from the Ohio Valley haven’t let the small amount of Division I (FBS) interest hold them back.

Many of us are familiar with the things former Bellaire Big Reds star Nate Davis has been accomplishing in the MAC. Davis took over the starting quarterback job at Ball State just five games in to his freshman year. In his very first start, he threw for nearly 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. Combined with stats accumulated in the first four games, Davis led the nation in Passing Efficiency.

In his 2007 campaign, Nate Davis’ play got him on the radar with the best quarterbacks in the country. After finishing the regular season 7-5, and losing a January bowl game to Rutgers, more and more people realized that Nate Davis was something special. He accumulated over 3600 yards and threw 30 touchdowns, and ran five more to pay dirt. The most impressive stat of all is that while putting up nearly 500 pass attempts, Davis only threw 6 interceptions.

Davis got national recognition before the 2008 season even began. In an episode of College Football Live, Mel Kiper, ESPNs Draft Analyst listed Nate Davis as the number five quarterback on his big board. This not only put Davis among the most elite of college quarterbacks, but also has him projected as the fifth passer taken in next years NFL Draft. Even more impressive, Nate Davis is only a junior.

So Far in 2008, Davis has compiled stats that support his stardom, and has led the Cardinals of Ball State to an undefeated record: currently 5-0, and 2-0 in the MAC. The most impressive of these victories came over Big 10 opponent Indiana, where Ball State come out on top 42-20.

As this season continues, Davis will continue to prove what type of player he really is, and in my opinion, this will be his last as a college player. As a true pocket passer, and a powerful arm that can fling the ball 60 yards with just a flick of the wrist, he may very well be a first day pick in the NFL Draft.

Former Steubenville Big Red quarterback Zach Collaros has followed a much different path. After winning back-to-back OHSAA State Championships in Division III, not many thought Collaros would make it in college as a quarterback. At Big Red, Collaros led a very tradition style offense. Normally under center, Collaros handed the ball off more often than he threw it, as Steubenville overpowered many of their opponents on the ground. Collaros knew he could play quarterback, even when not many believed the same.

Collaros signed to play quarterback at the University of Cincinnati, and was redshirted his freshman year. Coming into 2008, Collaros found himself 4-deep on the depth chart.

Wake Forest transfer, and former Ohio high school star Ben Mauk came into the season thinking he would have one more year of eligibility. After being shut out by the NCAA, and after appeal, Mauk’s eligibility had run dry.

Next on the roster was senior Dustin Grutza. After playing significant amounts his first three seasons, Grutza started the first two games of the year, but broke his leg late in the Bearcats game against Oklahoma.

Third-stringer Tony Pike took over the reigns at quarterback to finish the game and started the next two games. Late in their game at the Rubber Bowl against Akron, Pike broke his non-throwing forearm.

Now checking in — Zach Collaros. Although he finished the game against the Zips 1-4 for two yards, he did rush four times for 18 yards. Collaros, through a long line of injuries, now takes over the starting role at quarterback for the 3-1 Big East squad. His first career start will be on national television; the Bearcats game against Marshall will be on ESPN this Friday night (10/03/08).

Although most of us will be attending high school games throughout the state, Collaros’ dream will begin in front of millions of people. He finally will get his chance to prove everyone wrong and after Friday night, we all may know what he has known all along — he can be a college quarterback.

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