MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Bowling Green. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
We'll mix it up a little this week, starting with the football/basketball players first and then working our way toward some of the non-revenue sports. We also have our first hockey school in this series, so that'll crowd the square.
And football's going to be up there with several candidates. While they have the second-best historical winning record in MAC history to Miami, they've had great teams but not a lot of well-known names, especially those who played in the NFL. But even if the Falcons' ceiling was limited to collegiate dominance, that doesn't discount the achievement.
WR Freddie Barnes (2006-09) — His national splash came when he caught 155 passes in 2009, breaking a 20-year NCAA record. He's also third in MAC history in career receptions (297), and he did all of this while playing quarterback his freshman year. He set a rushing QB mark in his debut game against Wisconsin, but the versatile athlete did a bit of everything, leaving Bowling Green as their best-ever pass catcher. He would end up signing as a free agent with the Chicago Bears but could not make the team.
HB Bernie Casey (1958-60) — The only first-round NFL draft pick in school history; played a few seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and later made the Pro Bowl as a member of the L.A. Rams and accumulated 40 total receiving touchdowns. He was also a champion high-hurdler in track and field and went onto a long film career. He's been in many others, but I'll identify his film career as playing U.N. Jefferson in Revenge of the Nerds.
QB Josh Harris (2000-03) — He was the face, along with Urban Meyer, of the resurgence of the BGSU football program after some lean years in the late 90s. He still holds the school record for rushing touchdowns in a career (43) and was drafted in the sixth round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, but he never played in a single game. There were many memorable games he orchestrated as a two-way threat; most notably, the 2003 Motor City Bowl and the ESPN GameDay game where they upset nationally-ranked Northern Illinois 34-18. After retiring from organized football three years ago, he made a comeback in the Continental Indoor Football League with the Marion Blue Racers.
QB Omar Jacobs (2003-05) — And after Harris, people wondered if Jacobs could keep the head of steam bellowed by Harris after his years. Sure enough, he took it and maybe surpassed it, all with a different style. Mostly a pocket passer, Jacobs set the NCAA record for TD/INT ratio in a season (41/4). He's also thrown a school-best 71 career touchdowns in just three seasons, and would skip his senior season for the NFL Draft. While taken by the Steelers in the 2006 Draft, he was cut from the team and never played in the big leagues. Currently he's playing for the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL.
QB Brian McClure (1982-85) — Four people in MAC history have been named First Team All-MAC four times. Only one of them played on the offensive side, and he was a quarterback. Three times McClure received MAC Offensive Player of the Year, and twice he was the top player. But after being taken in the 1986 Draft by the Buffalo Bills in the 12th round, a strike curbed any hopes at longevity when he played one game as a replacement player, finishing with a career passer rating of 32.9. Hey, I can't blame him. You get one chance to play an NFL game, you do it.
LB Vince Palko (1991-94) — Since 1970, the linebacker leads the school in career tackles (478) and was twice named MAC Defensive Player of the Year. No NFL Draft for him, either, but he did start a fitness website, for what that's worth. There actually haven't been many great defenders in BGSU history: I can think of maybe Janssen Patton, Khary Campbell, Phil Villapiano, and , but Palko had the most accolades during his time at BGSU.
K Shaun Suisham (2001-04) — He held the NCAA Division I-A record for extra points at the time of his graduation; (226), 361 career points. He never had a booming leg, and his accuracy was pretty good but I never thought of him as a next-level guy; of course, then he goes and plays on a variety of teams from the Cowboys to the Redskins and currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Who are your nominees for Bowling Green's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.