Through the first four games last year, Tate Forcier was on top of the college football world. He had just led a remarkable comeback victory against Indiana and was praised as one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and perhaps the country—as a freshman.
Less than a year later, Forcier is in danger of losing his starting job.
Michigan senior Troy Woolfolk recently told the media that Denard Robinson has an edge in the Wolverines' quarterback competition, citing Tate's lack of work ethic, as he hasn't shown up to as many voluntary workouts as Robinson. And that, Woolfolk said, hurts his perception in the eyes of the team.
"I personally have a lack of respect for [players who don't show up to voluntary workouts]. The outlook on them is kind of diseased," said Woolfolk. "The only reason he's not really labeled as diseased is because of the way he was able to carry the team last year before we started losing. People still trust him a little bit, but he's starting to lose that trust."
And so the beginning of the end has arrived for Tate Forcier.
To be clear, Forcier could still begin the season as Michigan's starting quarterback. Head coach Rich Rodriguez said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago that the race is still very tight.
But regardless, Forcier's magic seems to have run out.
The downfall began ten months ago in Iowa City, as Forcier was coming off his first loss, a heart-breaker to Michigan State in East Lansing.
Despite subfreezing temperatures (a bit of a change from his hometown of San Diego), Forcier was his cocky self, even texting ESPN's Lisa Salters "Don't worry, I'll be fine" when it started snowing.
Either he underestimated the weather, the Iowa defense, or both. For three-and-a-half quarters, Tate was a tackling dummy for Iowa's defensive front, especially defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who basically tossed him around for the entire game.
Forcier threw for a dismal 94 yards with no touchdowns and an interception; by far his worst performance up to that point in the season. Eventually he was pulled in favor of Robinson, who was far more effective overall.
Tate was visibly angry with the decision and even argued with Rodriguez on the sideline. But in the end, all he could do was watch as Iowa safety Brett Greenwood intercepted Denard Robinson's pass, sending the Wolverines to a 30-28 defeat.
After that game, he was never the same. The Wolverines won only one more game in 2009, finishing the season out of bowl eligibility at 5-7.
So what exactly caused this big of a downfall? After all, most quarterbacks are able to come back even after a devastating loss.
Blame it on injuries if you want—Forcier suffered mild concussions and played with a minor shoulder injury during the Iowa game—but there was a bigger problem.
From the beginning, Forcier's cockiness was very evident. With every win, his ego grew, and with every player of the week award, he thought more and more that he was the best in the country.
Confidence is a good thing. But there's a fine line between confidence and cockiness.
Tate Forcier truly believed that he was one of the best quarterbacks in college football, if not the best. He posted a "resume" on his website, qbforce.com, attempting to give young recruits tips on selling themselves to coaches.
The media was just as responsible.
For the first month of the season, the media praised him. They gave him praise, awards, and the spotlight. Heck, even I named him first team quarterback on my mid-season All-Big Ten team.
The media led Forcier to believe he was destined for greatness, and he let that praise go to his head.
But what we learned that night in Iowa City is that he can lose that confidence as quickly as he can gain it.
Because he believed so much that he was the best, Forcier could never take the heat of losing. The fans that once embraced him, booed him as he underperformed during prime time on national television.
Instead of leaning on his teammates, he relied on himself to win the game. And when he couldn't, he threw a temper tantrum, yelling at his coaches on the sideline.
And as soon as the media realized that Tate Forcier wasn't invincible, he believed it too.
Will Forcier ever be a good college quarterback again? Only time will tell. He has the physical tools to be a solid player. As he says on his website, he will usually make plays under pressure and has a strong arm. But he needs to work things out mentally before he can lead the Wolverines back to their typical form.
Hopefully for Michigan, Tate Forcier has been humbled by the events of this past year. Hopefully he has learned not to let let the media and his stats— good or bad— get to his head.
If he hasn't yet, he had better hurry up, because not only Robinson is catching up, but his teammates are starting losing faith in him.
Inconceivable as it may have sounded eleven months ago, there is a chance that Forcier has played his last down as Michigan's starting quarterback.
But maybe that's a good thing for the Wolverines. Because with starts inevitably come losses, and maybe Tate Forcier just can't handle that concept.
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