Chuck Martin did not just bring his coaching knowledge and impressive recruiting skills with him when he made the trip from South Bend to Oxford; he also brought a handful of players who chose to leave the Fighting Irish and become RedHawks.
In 2013's winless campaign, a contingent of three Miami quarterbacks combined for 1,491 yards and 8 touchdowns the entire season. Three RedHawk receivers tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with two each. Overall, the passing offense ranked 119th out of 123 Division I-FBS programs. The team was outscored by 25.9 points per game, leading to a dreadful 0-12 finish. In an interview with Yahoo! Sports upon taking the coaching job, Martin relayed his thoughts when he found out the Miami offense did not even get the ball over midfield against rival Cincinnati until the fourth quarter: "I've played a lot of football games and even a bad offense gets over midfield." That about sums up how badly the RedHawks needed a jump start to the offense.
Enter: Andrew Hendrix, a 6-foot-2, 221 pound product of football powerhouse Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati. After battling for playing time at Notre Dame, he decided to use his fifth season of eligibility at Miami. In his first test as a RedHawk, he passed for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns against a very good Marshall team. While Miami did not win, they gave the Thundering Herd a scare and showed a certain energy and excitement that fans missed the previous year.
It did not take Hendrix long to break every mark held by last year's Miami quarterbacks: it took him six games to pass for more yards and five to pass for more touchdowns. While the previous year's numbers were certainly not difficult to beat, he nonetheless got off to a great start and consistently put his team in positions to win.
With Hendrix at the helm, Miami's passing offense went from 119th in 2013 to 30th in 2014. His passing offense finished second in the MAC. Hendrix's 3,280 passing yards were good for 24th among Division I quarterbacks and second among his MAC counterparts.
For obvious reasons, Massachusetts was the highlight game of the year for Hendrix. He threw for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns and rushed for 91 yards and one touchdown en route to bringing a football victory to the RedHawks for the first time in 21 games, the then-longest drought in the nation. The incredible performance earned him the Capital One Impact Performance of the Week Award.
The only teams to hold Hendrix under 215 yards passing were Michigan, Kent State, and Western Michigan. In the game against the Golden Flashes, however, Hendrix used his legs much more than his arm; he rushed for 104 yards, scoring the game's only touchdown on the ground.
Hendrix is a playmaker who is not only a threat from the pocket, but also posses the speed, size, and awareness to scramble. Another thing you would pick up from watching him is his confidence to control the offense at the line. It is very important, and sometimes taken for granted, that a quarterback has this talent, one in which the commentators stressed while he was on the field at the recent NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Hendrix is always reading the defense and constantly calling audibles at the line of scrimmage. The commentators compared Hendrix to Tony Romo due to the way in which he has a quick, smooth release that shows accuracy and strength.
Highlights of Hendrix in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl can be seen here.
So, what does this mean? Will Andrew Hendrix make an NFL squad? It's hard to say, but one thing is sure: his decision to leave Notre Dame set the stage for us to even be having this discussion. In an interview with NFL Draft War Room, Hendrix said, "My entire career at Notre Dame I felt I dealt with adversity. I never felt I received my fair chance to become the starter." Hendrix needed to leave Notre Dame to ever get a fair look by NFL scouts, and his performance with Miami landed him in the conversation.
Hendrix will need to work hard and build off of his success this past season with the RedHawks, but his build and arm strength tell me not to be surprised if he lands on an NFL roster someday.