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UT quarterback’s journey one for the record books

When Logan Woodside first arrived on the campus of The University of Toledo, he figured he would have to be patient. With senior Terrance Owens calling the signals and Alabama transfer Phillip Ely waiting in the wings, Woodside assumed he would be redshirted, and possibly wait in the wings for another year after that before he had his chance to become a starter.

He was wrong. But then he was right.

Logan Woodside has the most passing yards of any UT quarterback: 10,083 going into this weekend’s MAC Championship Game.

Nearly five years down the line, Woodside’s career didn’t go exactly as he planned. But as he and the Rockets (10-2, 7-1 Mid-American Conference) prepare to play in the 2017 MAC Championship Game vs. Akron Saturday, he wouldn’t change a thing.

“It’s been the best five years of my life,” said Woodside, who graduated last spring and his working on his master’s degree. “I’ve met some of my best friends here. When you’re a freshman, you want time to move fast. When you’re a fifth-year senior, it’s like, where’d all the time go?”

Rocket fans are probably wishing time would stand still and Woodside could be their quarterback forever. He has set virtually every Toledo passing record in the books, including the most passing yards in a season (4,129 in 2016) and in a career (10,083 going into Saturday’s MAC Championship Game), most touchdown passes in a season (45 in 2016) and career (89), and many others. He has led Toledo to 28 victories as the starting quarterback, second only to the legendary Chuck Ealey’s 35 wins from 1969 1971.

But the numbers hardly tell Woodside’s story.

Woodside did not redshirt as a freshman — that came later. Injuries to Owens in 2013 forced him into the lineup for four games. A year later, Ely won the starting position, but an early-season injury put Woodside in the lineup. Under Woodside’s leadership, UT went 9-4 with a bowl victory. Only a 27-24 loss at Northern Illinois kept the Rockets out of the MAC Championship Game.

Everything seemed to be going Woodside’s way. Until it wasn’t.

The following season, Ely beat him out for the starting position for the second straight time, leading Toledo to a 10-2 season. Woodside sat out the entire season, using the redshirt year he thought would come in his freshman season. He has called that season the most difficult of his life.

“Being told that I wasn’t good enough for the second straight year was difficult,” Woodside said. “But it motivated me and made me become a better player. I’m grateful now for the opportunity to have the extra year. I believed in my coaches, and I knew they would put me in the best situation possible. I trusted in them, and it all worked out.”

Since Woodside took over as the starter last year, it is hard to argue that there has ever been a more prolific passer to wear the Midnight Blue and Gold. He was named Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year and the Vern Smith Leadership Award winner this season. The Vern Smith Leadership Award, named for the former Toledo athletic director, has been given annually to the league’s most outstanding player since 1982. Woodside is the fourth Rocket to win the award. This is his second consecutive season as a first-team All-MAC quarterback, the first Rocket QB to accomplish back-to-back first-team honors since Gene Swick, who was a three-time first-teamer from 1973 to 1975.

In addition, Woodside has been named a contender for the Heisman Trophy in each of the past two seasons.

It wasn’t the typical college football hero’s journey, true, but Woodside certainly made it a memorable one. And now, as the curtain is about to close on one of the all-time great Rockets, there is little doubt that Woodside has left his mark on the program.

“I hope people will remember the legacy I’ve left here,” Woodside said. “I gave it everything I had. I left it all out on the field.”