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Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen has come a long way since he was a freshman, and his hard work might just pay off this weekend at the NFL Draft.

Credit: Ilana Wurman

If an entire career can be boiled down to just one game, then for Alek Torgersen, look no further than November 7th, 2015.

On the first Saturday in November in front of a homecoming crowd against archrival Princeton, the then-junior showed the world who he was.

The odds were against the Quakers. They were down 20-10 at halftime, coming off two straight losing seasons, and needed to run the table for a chance at a conference title.

At that moment, Torgersen stepped up. In overtime, down three, Torgersen lofted a perfect touch pass into the corner of the endzone. Eric Fiore caught the game-winning score, Penn went on to win the Ivy League title and the rest is history.

That touchdown pass was more than a key play in a regular-season game. It was the moment Penn football was put back on the map. It was the moment Alek Torgersen burst onto the scene. And most of all, it was the first glimpse at a potential NFL quarterback.

Sure, Torgersen had already been the starter for a year and a half and had taken down nationally-ranked Villanova, but it was in that Princeton game, on that pass, that he proved he could consistently perform in the toughest situations.

Torgersen only lost one more league game during the rest of his Penn career. He became Penn’s all-time leading passer and has collected two first team All-Ivy selections.

He was invited to the East-West Shrine Game, and this weekend, he just might hear his name called at the NFL Draft.

Four years ago, the prospect of a Penn quarterback being drafted wouldn’t have been taken seriously. But just as the Quakers beat the odds to come back against Princeton and win two straight Ivy titles, Torgersen has miraculously put himself in the position to make his NFL dream a reality.

Torgersen was a two-star recruit, a 185 pound senior from Huntington, Calif., when he committed to the Red and Blue.

Four years later and 50 pounds heavier, Torgersen is ready to beat the odds.

He sat most of his freshman season and was one of the lone bright spots on a team that only won two games his sophomore year.

As a junior, he started to turn heads, developing as a runner and deep ball passer while teaming up with wideout Justin Watson under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator John Reagan.

Despite being named first-team All-Ivy and finishing fourth in the FCS in passing efficiency in 2015, it was Watson who grabbed headlines heading into the 2016 campaign. Still, Torgersen was quietly carving out a legacy for himself.

By the off-season, Torgersen’s name started popping up consistently in rankings of the 2017 draft class.

He turned heads at the East-West Shrine Game, where he proved he could compete against prospects from bigger schools. In early March, he had his pro day, and 20 teams sent scouts to watch the Penn gunslinger.

Now, he projects as a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Torgersen ranked as the 13th-best quarterback in the class.

He is labeled as having an NFL body, with a good head and an accurate arm. He has raw talent and strong hands. Of course, the competition he faced at Penn won’t turn heads, but in the right system, Torgersen could develop into an NFL starter.

Four weeks ago, another former FCS quarterback retired. He wasn’t a national champion, and he wasn’t high on anyone’s draft board. He went undrafted. But one team took a chance on him and it paid incredible dividends.

The Cowboys signed Tony Romo out of little Eastern Illinois in 2003. They stashed him on the bottom of their roster, taught him the system, and molded him into one of the top passers of his generation.

Who’s to say Alek Torgersen won’t be next?

Whoever calls him, whether it’s during the draft or immediately thereafter as a free agent, they won’t regret taking the quarterback who put Penn football back on the map.

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