The University of Toledo Football program has a strong tradition and is once again a preseason MAC favorite. However, the Rockets have not claimed a MAC championship since 2004, and have not had a player hear their name called in the NFL draft since 2008. UT senior and Cincinnati native Greg Mancz will look to put an end to both of those streaks as he enters the 2014 season in what has already been a very noteworthy career both on and off the gridiron.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 300-pound Mancz has started every college football game he has ever participated in, a streak of 38 and counting. He has started games at right guard, right tackle and this year will likely move to center—where he was named to the RImington Award Watch list, given to the nation's top center—despite limited reps during his career at that position.
Mancz was a Third Team All-Conference selection in 2012 and a Second Team All-Conference selection in 2013 as well as an Academic All-MAC honoree. Multiple publications, including Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, have tabbed Mancz as a preseason First Team All-MAC selection for 2014. The honors and recognition for Mancz continue to pour in; he was named to the watch list for the 2014 Rotary Lombardi Award, which honors the top lineman or linebacker in the nation, as well as nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes players whose charitable involvement and community service contributions stand out among all other student-athletes participating in the sport.
Mancz anchors an offensive line that should prove to be one of the conferences strongest in 2014. In 2013 Toledo's line was dominant, paving the way for an offensive effort that ranked 14th in FBS in rushing yards, averaging over 240 rushing yards per game, and allowed just six sacks all season, tops in the nation.
Mancz spoke at MAC Media Dat in Detroit of the closeness and bond the experienced Rocket offensive line shares recalling, "I came in with Jeff Myers and Josh Hendershot; we've been basically housemates since day one, summer 2010.
"You build the bond, and o-line is a position where you need to have a tight bond anyway. It has meant the world to me to have those guys, and in previous years Zac Kerin, to play with. It makes everything easier, communication is more effective, it helps out a lot."
Head coach Matt Campbell recently praised Mancz, comparing him to two Rocket legends and both third round NFL draft picks Nick Kaczur and John Greco, "Greg is the best offensive lineman we've had since I've been here." It appears scouts agree, Mancz has been projected as a fourth or fifth round pick by NFL Draft Insider, but with a whole season to go could rapidly climb up draft boards.
Mancz will leave Toledo with plenty of awards and recognition, and will most likely hear his name called in the NFL Draft next spring, but a MAC championship would put a nice bow around what has been a very successful career already.