This Sunday, Tom Brady will start his seventh Super Bowl, and it makes me so hopeful about Penn football.
Yes, you read that sentence right. Penn football and the Super Bowl? How are those even remotely related beyond that fact that they’re part of the same sport? The answer lies in our quarterback, and NFL Draft hopeful, Alek Torgersen.
Brady is widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, but it wasn’t always going to turn out like this. Brady’s collegiate career was, in a word, mundane. He attended the University of Michigan, where he sat as one of the backup quarterbacks for his first two years. He served as the starter in his final two years, but split time with other QBs. He currently sits sixth in Michigan’s record books for completions with 443, eighth in passing yards with 5,351 and ninth in passing touchdowns with 35.
Entering the draft, Brady was not a highly touted prospect. He performed extremely poorly at the NFL Combine, posting one of the slowest 40-yard dash times for a quarterback and struggling in several other areas. This all culminated in Brady sliding all the way down to pick 199 in the sixth round, where the Patriots took him. Brady was the seventh QB taken in the 2000 NFL Draft, and five more were drafted after him.
We all know the rest of Brady’s story. He got his chance in 2001 when then-Patriots starter Drew Bledsoe got hurt, led his team to a Super Bowl victory, and never looked back. So how does this have any relevancy to Penn’s quarterback?
Currently ranked the eighth-best QB in this year’s NFL Draft by Sports Illustrated, Torgersen is in a very similar position to what Brady was on his draft day — a lower end prospect with the potential to get drafted in the later rounds. Despite not playing at a Power Five conference school, the senior from Huntington Beach, Calif., has gotten on some draft experts’ radars with his stellar play during the past two seasons and more recently at the East-West Shrine Game.
Torgersen has several other factors going for him that can lead to him being drafted and getting his shot. First, the current crop of quarterbacks in the draft is particularly weak, which means that he will certainly get his fair share of looks. Second, there are several teams, Brady’s Patriots included, with aging stars at the helm, and several more with no clear starting quarterback, which means that many teams will be looking to draft signal callers this year. Last, Torgersen benefits from holding several school records at the NCAA’s oldest college football program, meaning he truly had a fantastic career. All of these factors point to a growing possibility that Penn will have its first drafted player since Jeff Hatch in 2002.
My point isn’t that Torg is destined to become the next star quarterback in the NFL. It’s that anything can happen if he’s given the opportunity. In the coming weeks, Torgersen will have the chance to prove himself, to work hard enough to impress scouts and get drafted — and if that happens, the possibilities are endless from there.
Walter Pipp famously lost his job to Lou Gehrig after resting for only a single game. All Brady needed was one chance, and in sports, that’s often all it takes. Who’s to say that the same thing won’t happen to our very own quarterback?