Top MAC Football Players of 2013: #68, Austin Boucher, Miami QB

Out of Zac Dysert's shadow after three years, the offense finally belongs to Boucher. - Kirk Irwin

Our list begins with the only person on our list to have kissed Danica Patrick.

So we start our list of the MAC's 68 best players (hey check out that fancy logo!) with Austin Boucher, a quarterback who has some very big shoes to fill. Whether or it is fair to him or not, Boucher's career at Miami (so far) cannot be discussed without mentioning his predecessor, Zac Dysert.

In case you don't remember, Dysert was in his second season as a starter in 2010 when a lacerated spleen knocked him out in the 10th week. Boucher, then a redshirt freshman, stepped in and promptly won four straight games, including completing 4th and 20 in the MAC championship (threw for 333 yards, 1 TD) and a GoDaddy.com Bowl MVP award. (289 yards, 2 TD)

Unfortunately for Boucher, Dysert won that starting job back at the start of the following season, and Miami went with him for the next two seasons. And in retrospect, it's hard to blame them — Dysert leaves Miami as the only three-time captain, the third-most career passing yards all-time in the MAC at 12,016, and in either first or second in the school record book (Roethlisberger) in nearly all passing categories.

See? In a post about Austin Boucher, here I am rambling on about Zac Dysert.

Like Miami, we're moving on. Using nearly any metric and all available information, Austin Boucher is a good quarterback. He won a state championship in 2008 at Archbishop Alter in Kettering, Ohio, and has never had a losing season as a starter. He turned down a scholarship from Ohio State because he didn't feel like he would get a chance to play while Terrelle Pryor was there. His only starts at Miami are those four games, where he completed 62.4% of his 141 passes for 990 yards and five touchdowns. For his Miami career, Boucher has averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, and has a 132.8 passing efficiency rating while making 17 appearances. On top of all that, he's a smart guy — he was a four-year honor roll member in high school, and has a 3.4 GPA while majoring in finance at Miami.

The coaching staff is also very high on Boucher. While there will presumably be a competition for the starting spot, Boucher has the pole position coming out of spring ball. "You talk all the time about people investing in the program — Austin Boucher is invested in this program," said quarterbacks coach Mike Bath. "He deserves that opportunity to run out there with the ones right now. He’s a kid you want as a face of your program because he’s tough and he’s a leader."

With the remains of a defense that ranked 11th in the MAC last season, and with a tough non-conference schedule to open the season (at Marshall, at Kentucky, Cincinnati, at Illinois), Boucher has a tall task ahead of him if he wants to improve on Miami's record of 4-8 in each of the past two seasons.

But Boucher has the respect of his teammates, as someone who, as Bath said, has really invested in the program. It helps that he's been in just about every possible position in terms of playing time. "Oh man, I’ve had the highest of the highs going from the MAC championship to being a bowl MVP to sitting on the bench for two years, so I can relate to a lot of players on both ends," he said. If he can get his teammates to buy into the program as much as he has, the RedHawks could surprise some teams.

Personally, I think Boucher's position on this list is simply due to a lack of any real body of work. If we look back at this list after the season, I think Boucher will prove that his skill and value to the RedHawks should have him much higher than number 68. Miami might not be a favorite to compete for a MAC title this year (to put it lightly, especially after the dismissal of Nick Harwell) — but, as hard as it may be to believe, the quarterback position shouldn't really be considered much of a downgrade at all with Boucher taking the reigns. In a season that has some Miami fans fearing the worst, Boucher should be one of the bright spots.

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