June 15, 2009
By Bart Wright, Sports Editor, The Greenville News
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- A storm, the likes of which they've never seen, blew across the campus of Furman University on Thursday afternoon.
Not long after that, it got windy and the rains came down. That, we've all seen before.
The storm came in the form of advance publicity on quarterback Chris Forcier, whose transfer from UCLA became official Thursday when the school made him and wide receiver Tyler Maples, a transfer from the University of Tennessee, available to the media.
Actually, Forcier was national news before the locals had a chance at him because he was interviewed on a segment of the Dan Patrick show on nationally available Fox and satellite radio stations earlier in the day.
"He tried to pull some things out of me that weren't there," Forcier said of the Patrick interview. "I had to tell him, eventually, it was all about me wanting to be a quarterback, not a receiver; that's what being here is all about, but it's not about being angry at UCLA.
"Right now," said the 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore-to-be, "I have a new home and I'm just concentrating on being the best quarterback I can be for Furman University; sometimes you just have to move on."
Furman is again a fortunate benefactor of a major college quarterback who figured out he wasn't going to get the playing time he had hoped for at his first choice of schools. Five years ago, Florida recruit Ingle Martin transferred from Gainesville and had a productive career that wound up with his advancement to the National Football League.
Forcier has the detail of Jordan Sorrells, the returning senior quarterback whose father Tim is the Furman offensive coordinator, to deal with. Coming out of high school in San Diego two years ago, Forcier was rated among the Top 20 nationally by all the recruiting services that pretend to know such things.
Forcier played in a spread offense in high school, has outstanding speed for his position - timed at 4.38 in the 40 by UCLA coaches in spring drills - and was consistently rated higher across the board than Willy Korn, who came out of Byrnes High School in the same class and is in competition for the starting quarterback position at Clemson.
Still, Sorrells is the returning starter.
"Just met him today; we had lunch," Sorrells said Thursday. "He's a great kid. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still the starting quarterback, but as far as the team goes, anytime you can get a good player who can come in and make you better, you have to do that."
For Forcier, the timing couldn't be better. Furman lost three of its last four games in 2008 and finished 7-5. Expectations were not met.
"Before we started (spring football), we got together as a staff and said the one thing we really needed to do better was to run the quarterback more effectively," said coach Bobby Lamb. "We made a concerted effort to do that in the spring."
About that same time in Los Angeles, the UCLA coaching staff of Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow was deciding Forcier's speed would be better used at receiver.
Forcier faxed Furman; a dialogue began, and after he considered Eastern Kentucky and the University of Massachusetts, he decided on Furman, just at the time Furman happened to be interested in a quarterback with just his kind of athletic skills.
"Potentially, he brings us a dimension we've never had here," Lamb said. "Ingle Martin, for example, was a great quarterback for us and he a number of big runs in big games, but Ingle was a 4.6 (40-yard dash time), guy. Here, we're talking about 4.38; that's a big, big difference.
"Not having a guy who can really hurt a defense with, not just the threat to run, but the threat to take it to the house, has been a kind of an Achilles' heel for our offense," he said. "Having said all that, let's get everyone out in fall camp and see what happens."
Forcier's taking summer school classes and getting to know his teammates who already have a favorable impression.
"We've said no to guys who wanted to transfer here because of what our players thought of him," Lamb said, "but they all liked Chris (on his earlier visit), and he'll get to toss the ball around this summer and work his way in a little bit."
Fall camp at Furman opens Aug. 8, just 57 days from today, and Forcier has some catching up to do. Good thing he's fast on his feet.