The Mid-American Conference has produced a number of successful NFL quarterbacks. The likes of which include Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington, Bruce Gradkowski, and Ben Roethlisberger. Between these five quarterbacks, they have amassed 246 NFL starts and 1 Super Bowl Championship.
The next great MAC NFL quarterback could very well be Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan. In just two years as the starting quarterback (redshirted in the 2005 season), LeFevour has back-to-back MAC Championships and back-to-back Motor City Bowl appearances. More impressively, LeFevour has assembled stats that compare to some of the best quarterbacks in the country, and in this history of the NCAA.
This season, LeFevour joined Heisman trophy winner and current Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young as the only players in NCAA history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000. Additionally, LeFevour was one rushing touchdown shy of joining another Heisman trophy winner, Tim Tebow, as the only players in NCAA history to rush for 20 touchdowns and throw for 20 touchdowns. LeFevour also added a receiving touchdown to his credit, coming on a reverse pass throwback against Northern Illinois.
LeFevour's stats also compare very favorably to the gold standard of MAC NFL quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger. While at the University of Miami (OH), Roethlisberger compiled 10,013 passing yards, 76 passing touchdowns, with a passer efficiency rating of 148.1 in three seasons as the starting quarterback.
Roethlisberger also led the Red Hawks to the MAC Championship in 2003 with an 8-0-conference record. Roethlisberger's collegiate accomplishments impressed NFL scouts enough to allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft him 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft.
In LeFevour's two seasons as CMU starting quarterback, LeFevour has 6,683 passing yards, 53 passing touchdowns. In Roethlisberger's first two seasons as a starter, he compiled 6,343 passing yards, and 47 touchdowns.
LeFevour brings a skill to the table that Big Ben never had; his running ability. In 320 career attempts, Dan has 1643 rushing yards for a 5.1 yards per carry average with 26 touchdowns. These totals put LeFevour's two-year touchdown total to 79, compared to Roethlisberger's 51.
NFL scouts are unpredictable in their value of a quarterback's mobility. If a prospect is considered too mobile, one of two things are usually assumed; either the prospect is drafted to play a different position or they do not have NFL passing skills.
However, LeFevour's passing abilities are unquestioned. LeFevour's arm is his first weapon, and his legs are the secondary option. Even worse, if a prospect is considered too immobile, his draft stock consequently suffers due to the lack of an ability to evade the pass rush. Neither of these problems exist in Dan LeFevour's skill set.
Perhaps LeFevour's greatest accomplishment is his sparkling conference record. In 18 MAC games, LeFevour has led his team to victory in 16 of those games. LeFevour's conference record surpasses Roethlisberger's already impressive 11-5-conference record in 2001 and 2002.
Statistical similarities aside, LeFevour and Roethlisberger have had very similar college careers. Neither was considered major collegiate prospect. Both players played skill positions in high school (LeFevour at running back and Roethlisberger at receiver). Both players were redshirted, and both were named MAC Freshman of the Year, and both have received MAC Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Furthermore, LeFevour possesses the size NFL Scouts covet. CMU's football program has him listed at 6'3" and 226 pounds. LeFevour has the height to easily see over his offensive line, and the bulk to withstand the pounding of an NFL season. LeFevour's background as a high school running back has allowed him to develop the durability needed to stay virtually injury free in college. Since taking over for an injured Brian Brunner in the 2005 season opener against Boston College, Lefevour has started every single game for Chippewas.
Despite all of these accolades, LeFevour's best football is still ahead of him. We should not lose sight of the fact that Lefevour just finished his sophomore season of college. As a junior, LeFevour should benefit from the complete continuity of the coaching staff (a luxury he did not have at the beginning of the 2007 season).
CMU is also loaded at the skill positions, with several players returning on the offensive line as well. The Chippewas return All-MAC receiver Bryan Anderson (Jr.) and MAC Freshman of the Year Antonio Brown, who set a new school single-season receptions record with 102. Furthermore, the offensive line remains nearly intact, with Eric Tunney the only loss (graduation).
Roethlisberger, the recent recipient of a nice contract, began to see the majority of his national media attention in his third season as the starter. In 2003, Big Ben was a Davey O'Brien semi-finalist, in addition to being a Heisman trophy candidate.
If LeFevour continues to lead his team to MAC Championships and bowl appearances, while continuing to post all-world stats, he will be on the inside track of becoming an elite NFL prospect.
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