In 2011, the Eastern Michigan Eagles posted a 6-6 season, just one win short of being bowl-eligible. Junior quarterback Alex Gillett was a huge reason the Eagles did that well. Nobody, and I mean nobody, played with more heart than AG did when he stepped on the field. Many believed that, coming back as a senior team captain, he would help lead the 2012 team to the school's first bowl game since 1987.
AG was never the type to "wow" you with the stats that many college football fanatics sit and drool over, but you sure as heck admired how he went about his business and how much of a team player he truly was through his good days, his bad days, and the days when he plays against Purdue University.
Completing only 16 out of 59 passes heading into the third week of the season, Gillett threw a trio of interceptions against Purdue to bring his early-season total to six. Coach English had to make the switch by putting the redshirt junior into the game. Tyler Benz only went 5-for-14 for 78 yards that day, but he showed, well, you know, good quarterback qualities.
Benz, an Illinois native who never lost a game from 7th grade and all the way through high school, made his first collegiate start the very next week against the Michigan State Spartans in Spartan Stadium. He went 13-for-26 with a touchdown in the 23-7 loss, raising some eyebrows during the whole game while nearly pulling off the huge upset live on the Big Ten Network.
The best game Benz played in 2012 was at home against Army, when he threw 19-for-31 with 5 touchdowns to give EMU their first win of the season with a score of 48-38.
Over the course of Benz's 10-game season, he threw 114-for-212 for 1,511 yards, 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Sure, he took most of the snaps from the quarterback position when everybody believed that it'd be Gillett to be the full-time quarterback for the season, but Alex seemed to make the most out of it.
Benz is #47 on our list and while we may bite our tongues over it, he's the type of guy you can have big expectations from. Stan Parrish has been hired into the EMU system as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, which we can all imagine that Benz can only be a better quarterback based on what Parrish's resume says. If there happens to be another quarterback implosion early on, I'm sure English wouldn't hesitate to throw Mark Iannotti in a game or two. Not that I foresee that happening, but it's the MAC.