Cincinnati Bearcats Player Spotlight: QB Zach Collaros

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IJuly 12, 2010

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 07:  Zach Collaros #12 of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs with the ball against the Connecticut Huskies during the Big East Conference game at Nippert Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

On July 29 former Cincinnati QB Tony Pike will officially begin his tenure with the Carolina Panthers as NFL training camps begin. Now that Pike has moved on, it is time for someone new to take the reigns as the leader of the Bearcat offense.

Welcome to the show, Zach Collaros.

Collaros will step under center in 2010-2011 as the No. 1 quarterback for the first time in his college career. Collaros played as Pike's backup the last two seasons. Appearing in nine games in 2009-2010 while Pike dealt with injuries.

Before Collaros signed his letter of intent to come to the University of Cincinnati, he was a quarterback at Steubenville High School in Ohio. Over his high school career, he compiled an overall record of 41-1 as a three seasons starter

In his final two high school years, Collaros was close to flawless. A perfect record of 30-0 was the antecedent for two Ohio Division III state championships.

Fast-forward to Collaros’s second year with the Bearcats and glimpses of his perfection were still quite evident. Collaros enjoyed his two best games of last season in wins over Syracuse and Connecticut in back-to-back weeks.

When the Bearcats came up against Syracuse on Halloween, Collaros had only been the starter for one week and not much was expected of him. Collaros made a name for himself against the Orange. He connected on 22 of 28 pass attempts for 295 yards and a career high four touchdown passes.

As if that wasn’t enough to get Cincinnati fans talking, the following week the Bearcats returned to Nippert Stadium against the Connecticut Huskies. Collaros would have career highs in completions, attempts, and passing yards on this day. He ended the game completing 29 of 37 passes for 480 yards.

Collaros also put up strong performances against Louisville and West Virginia.

The Bearcats will be looking to ride Collaros’ arm to another Big East title in 2010-2011. What will it take to keep them at the top?

One of the biggest keys to Collaros’s success in 2010 will be his teammates on the other side of the ball. The Cincinnati defense was not a very strong unit last season and it showed in the second half of the year against teams like Pittsburgh and Florida.

If the defense can find a way to be more effective in 2010-2011 it will take a significant amount of pressure off Collaros and will help him ease into the starting role.

Zach Collaros has the potential to surpass everyone’s expectations in 2010-2011. Bearcat fans from all over will be watching him closely this season to see if that potential will mold itself into success on the field.

Collaros and the Bearcats will open the season on September 4 in a late night showdown with Fresno State. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with kickoff set for 10 pm EST.