MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Akron. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
It's tough to gauge football greatness when the team joined the league in 1992. Obviously before they went Division I-A in 1987, it's hard to find a cavalcade of great Zips players that match up with the current ones. But in a roughly-20-year cross-section I looked at, there are some gems in here. One of them, I'm told, is even a great dancer.
As always, include your own as well.
S Victor Green (?-1992) —The only pre-MAC person on the list! Green didn't get drafted, and really was overlooked in his career in Akron, despite a first-team All-MAC and an All-American Bowl invite. Nonetheless, he became a staple in the New York Jets backfield, collecting 25 career interceptions.
DE Jason Taylor (1994-97) — Seems like he right answer, if only for his glorious NFL career, and he's even parlayed that into a rounded entertainment career. But while Taylor didn't rack up the accolades with the Zips, he did have a nice career, especially in 1996 when he was an honorable mention All-American and was named the Defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl. I don't think any MAC player has done that. And then came all those years with the Dolphins, Redskins, and Jets. As a bonus point, Taylor also received a varsity letter for basketball.
S Dwight Smith (1997-2000) — There's been only one Division I Consensus All-American in school history. Smith's 10 interceptions in 2000 helped him to that, along with a third-round pick in the 2001 Draft. He'd be a staple of Tony Dungy's classic Cover 2 defense, and Smith returned two interceptions for scores in Super Bowl XXXVII.
QB Charlie Frye (2001-04) — He'll be remembered for his fizzled NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, et. al., but Frye was one of those quarterbacks that rounded out the "cradle" of the early 2000s. When Roethlisberger/Pennington/Leftwich/Harris/Jacobs/Cribbs/Gradkowski/ were making a name for the conference, Frye had no choice but to be fourth, fifth, or sixth fiddle even on good weeks. Even in a year when Omar Jacobs won MAC Offensive POY, Frye took home the Vern Smith. Only Leftwich and Dan LeFevour have more offensive yards than Frye in his four-year career.
WR Domenik Hixon (2002-05) — Sure, he made the NFL with the Giants. But Zips fans are going to remember this:
You could also include in here Chase Blackburn, another former linebacker who's also teammates with Hixon. That is, if you're so inclined.