Ex-UCLA QB Forcier leading Furman turnover

Furman quarterback Chris Forcier has rediscovered his game in a

most unlikely place.

The UCLA transfer has persevered through a shoulder injury, a

coaching change and the kind of anxiety that comes from not knowing

where you stand in a program. But the former highly rated high

school quarterback has fought through it all in a turnaround season

for himself and the Paladins.

Forcier, the older brother of ex-Michigan quarterback Tate

Forcier, leads the Football Championship Subdivision in pass

efficiency. He’s also helped Furman upset last year’s Southern

Conference co-champions Wofford and Appalachian State in the past

three weeks.

”I wasn’t going to quit,” Chris said.

Although few would blame him if he did.

Chris threw for 5,241 yards and 60 touchdowns during his high

school career, which he finished up at St. Augustine’s near his San

Diego home and led to a pair of state championships. Chris chose

UCLA over Miami, Nebraska and Oregon, and figured it wouldn’t be

long before he’d be under center.

But the Bruins brought in Rick Neuheisel as coach in 2008 and

Chris struggled to mesh with his system. When UCLA coaches asked

him to move to wide receiver, Chris knew he needed to go


Chris looked to FCS schools so he could play without having to

sit out a year and found Furman, which only a few years earlier had

former Florida quarterback Ingle Martin leading the team to the

NCAA playoffs. He transferred more than 2,300 miles East, feeling

the Paladins and then coach Bobby Lamb were a perfect fit.

Chris appeared on track in 2010 until he suffered a fracture of

the scapula, classified as a glenoid neck fracture, in Furman’s

loss at South Carolina just three games into the season. The good

news was it was Forcier’s left, non-throwing shoulder. The bad

news: It cost him another season of action.

As Furman’s year fell apart, Lamb resigned and Chris was left

with more questions and anxiety about his future under new coach

Bruce Fowler.

His father, Mike, said his son was depressed and barely wanted

to leave his dorm room for rehab or workouts.

”That was a very difficult time for him,” Mike Forcier said.

He credited Chris’ teammates, particularly, roommate receiver Tyler

Maples, and Furman’s football staff with helping his son cope.

Gradually, Chris felt better – physically and mentally.

Fowler retained Furman’s quarterbacks coach Tim Sorrells, who

had supported Chris while he was sidelined last fall. Chris also

found a backer in Fowler, a former Furman player and longtime


”Maybe it’s something about the South, but Chris couldn’t have

found a better place for him to go through this,” said Mike

Forcier, who traveled cross-country so his son would see another

friendly face during spring practice.

Fowler and the Paladins began to see a healthy Chris’

competitiveness during summer workouts. There was a confidence and

assuredness, along with a joy of playing that Fowler knew could

help Furman this fall.

”The thing with Chris is we all had to patient with each

other,” Fowler said.

That patience has paid off. Chris won the job from Dakota

Derrick in the summer and went 9 of 9 passing in a 16-6 victory

over Citadel in the second game of the season, then accounted for

eight touchdowns (seven passing, one running) to beat Presbyterian

62-21 a week later.

Chris and the Paladins have continued their success and should

Furman (6-3) beat Elon Saturday, the Paladins could return to the

NCAA playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

It has been an amazing turnaround for the Forcier family.

Besides dealing with Chris’ worries, Mike Forcier said he was

also counseling Tate about his role at Michigan. Tate started as a

freshman for then coach Rich Rodriguez, but fell behind Denard

Robinson on the depth chart. Tate was declared academically

ineligible for Michigan’s bowl game last winter and in January

decided to transfer. At first it was to Miami, but then he decided

on San Jose State, where he’s sitting out this season because of

transfer rules.

Chris said Tate’s brief fling with Miami was a case of ”moving

too fast and feeling like you didn’t make the right decision.”

Said Mike Forcier: ”Last fall was hard on the family.”

Now the brothers feel they’ve found schools that fit them well

and Chris said they talk each week.

Mike Forcier said his all three of his sons have rebounded well

from their football trials. Jason, the oldest, played for Lloyd

Carr at Michigan in 2005 and 2006 before finishing school at


None more so than Chris, the only one currently playing – and


He’s completing 67.4 percent of his passes this season, throwing

for 1,755 yards and 19 touchdowns. Chris has rediscovered the

reason why he loves football; he likes being a contributor on a

successful team.

”Honestly, I wouldn’t care if I throw another touchdown this

year,” he said. ”As long as we win games.”