Ex-UCLA QB Forcier leading Furman turnover

BY foxsports • November 10, 2011

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 elsewhere.

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 assistant.

''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 Stanford.

None more so than Chris, the only one currently playing - and thriving.

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.''

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