Sophomores dominate quarterback position

The Mid-American Conference is known as the conference of quarterbacks: Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Ben Roethlisburger, Julian Edelman, Josh Cribbs, and Dan LeFevour.

With 10 sophomores starting under center, this year’s crop is young and hungry to prove itself.



Patrick Nicely (508 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)

The sophomore threw six touchdown passes while starting the final seven games of 2009, but is failing to repeat his success in a new offense.


Jerry Davis (882 yards, 8 TD, 7 INT)

Zach Maynard, last year’s starter, transferred to California, leaving Davis as the starter. The sophomore has so far been a good fit for the Bulls’ no-huddle offense.

Bowling Green

Matt Schilz (664 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT)

The redshirt freshman beat out a pack of contenders during camp, but so far his stats haven’t impressed. Look for sophomore Aaron Pankratz to potentially replace Schilz later in the season.

Kent State

Spencer Keith (646 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT)

Many wonder if Keith’s struggles at Boston College and Penn State are a product of the opponent not Keith. With MAC play beginning, that question will be answered. With a revamped receiving corps and a formidable run game, the sophomore has the tools to succeed.


Zac Dysert (764 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT)

Dysert took over as the team’s starter four games into the 2009 season and threw for 2,611 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dysert runs the spread offense well but struggled against tough non-conference opponents.


Boo Jackson (458 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT)

After breaking the school record with 2,688 total yards in 2008, the senior’s 2009 season came to an end in week two with a shoulder injury. He’s split time with Iowa State transfer Phil Bates so far.


Chester Stewart (556 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT)

Stewart’s responsibilities are to hand the ball off to sophomore running back Bernard Pierce and minimize turnovers. Stewart did that until he threw three interceptions at Penn State. But if Pierce struggles, can Stewart win football games?


Ball State

Keith Wenning, Kelly Page (440 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT combined)

Page was the winner out of camp, but the sophomore has split time under center with freshman Wenning so far. Neither is established as a dominant starter yet.

Central Michigan

Ryan Radcliffe (1,142 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT)

The sophomore learned well from Dan LeFevour last year. Radcliffe leads the MAC in passing yards and has found 12 different receivers in four games.

Eastern Michigan

Alex Gillett (550 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT)

Gillett played surprisingly well against No. 2 Ohio State last week, throwing for 200 yards and two touchdowns. But can this sophomore lead the Eagles to their first win since the 2008 season?

Northern Illinois

Chandler Harnish (435 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)

The elder statesman of MAC West signal callers, Harnish has ripped apart defenses with his legs this season. The junior’s ran for 302 yards and two scores in three games.


Austin Dantin (587 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT)

Dantin’s got Toledo in the division’s driver’s seat with four rushing touchdowns to complement his passing game. In the Rockets’ 31-20 win over Purdue, the sophomore scampered 58 yards for a score.

Western Michigan

Alex Carder (921 yards, 8 TD, 6 INT)

The sophomore has thrown for a ton of yards in the Broncos’ three games so far. But with no run game to speak of to back Carder up, he might have trouble keeping his team in the hunt.

Contact Lance Lysowski and Josh Johnston at [email protected] and [email protected]