Inside the CFL: A Wolverine becomes a Tiger-Cat
By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Jeff Garcia did the teaching. Now, it's up Tate Forcier to pass the test.
The 21-year-old Forcier has agreed to terms with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
NCAA followers will recall that Forcier was the starting quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines in 2009, ahead of Denard Robinson, whom he backed up in 2010.
He is one of only two players in Michigan history to start every game at quarterback as a true freshman. In his two seasons, he threw for 2,647 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 549 yards and four touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of San Diego began his career 4-0 before the season ended 5-7 in part because he suffered shoulder and other injuries.
However, some people equate Forcier with an attitude problem, which seemed to begin at the annual Michigan spring game in 2010, when he was a member of the second-string offence.
When the 2010 season started, he moved to No. 3 on the depth chart, and during the opening game television cameras showed Forcier sitting on the bench, away from his teammates. One commentator reported that Forcier was sulking on the bench.
But, Forcier delivered when he got the chance.
He set a Michigan record for pass completion percentage (with a minimum of 10 attempts) by throwing a perfect 12-for-12 in a game against Bowling Green. And in Michigan's 67-65 win in triple overtime against Illinois, Forcier led the team to a game-tying fourth-quarter touchdown drive and three overtime touchdown-scoring drives, including a pass for the game-winning two-point conversion.
After the 2010 season ended, he announced plans to transfer, and then agreed to attend San Jose State University for the 2012 season.
However, those plans have now changed, thanks to Garcia.
The former San Jose State University pivot's name wasn't called at the 1994 NFL draft. Instead, he headed to the CFL. In four seasons, he led the Calgary Stampeders offense, culminating with a Grey Cup championship in 1998, before he started his NFL career.
In other words, Garcia knows of what he speaks. And, apparently, Garcia said a lot.
"Jeff had been working out a teammate of mine from high school, who plays at Dartmouth," Forcier told AM900CHML in Hamilton. "He contacted me and told me that Jeff would like to work with me. I started to work with Jeff for the last few months. He had a lot of CFL contacts and he told some of those teams they should take a look at me."
One of those teams was Edmonton, which almost signed Forcier.
"I had been working out for Edmonton, and I had been talking to their GM (Eric Tillman) and they showed some interest in me," Forcier said. "I went to their workout and they said they were ready to offer me a contract. But, they had just signed (former Mississippi QB) Jeremiah Masoli. Hamilton also was interested, so I worked out for them, and they offered me a contract right after the workout."
Under Garcia's tutelage, Forcier feels the learning curve that many NCAA quarterbacks find steep when venturing north of the 49th parallel has been reduced somewhat.
"I feel my arm is a lot stronger since I've started working out with Jeff," he said. "My mechanics are a lot more smoother. He feels the CFL game suits my game very well. I'm a lot like Jeff in the way I play. He said he had a lot of success up there and he thinks I can do the same with the wide open field."
When asked about his problems at Michigan, Forcier claimed what's done is done.
"I still bleed blue. I love Michigan. All my memories are there," he said. "That's all in the past. It's time to move forward. I'm in the next chapter of my life."
That chapter could mean a CFL career, because in another move the Tiger-Cats released third-year quarterback Jason Boltus, who last year was No. 3 on the depth chart.
The Tiger-Cats also signed another quarterback, Sedrick Harris, a 6-foot, 185- pound native of Forth Worth, Texas, who spent two seasons at East Texas Baptist.
He threw for 3,015 yards and 18 touchdowns while also carrying the ball 324 times for 2,679 rushing yards (8.3 yards per carry) and 21 touchdowns. After becoming the first player in ASC history to record over 1,000 passing and rushing yards in a single season as a junior, he averaged 101.8 rushing yards per game during his senior year.
So, right now, it appears Forcier and Harris will battle for the No. 3 QB spot, with the other possibly heading to the practice roster.
Heading into the season, Henry Burris is the starter with Quinton Porter holding down No. 2.
It will all start to shake down on May 30, when Tiger-Cats rookie camp begins.
Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.
Comments? Criticism? Applause?� email@example.com.
05/23 13:09:21 ET