Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Football [Print without images]

Monday, September 7, 2009
Updated: September 8, 1:55 PM ET
Forcier gets nod at QB vs. Fighting Irish

Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tate Forcier was groomed by his father, two older brothers and Marv Marinovich to be a quarterback.

When the freshman threw three touchdowns before halftime in his college debut at Michigan, Forcier's mentors insisted they weren't awed.

"I'd be lying if I said I was surprised," Michael Forcier said Monday before a question was even asked about his son in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "Tate has been doing this at every level.

Tate Forcier
Tate Forcier was 13-of-20 for 179 yards and three scores in a win over Western Michigan.

"Me and Marv were just laughing about it because the kid just has so much moxie."

He was 13-of-20 for 179 yards and three scores -- connecting on an array of passes from the pocket and on the move -- in a win over Western Michigan. Back at home in San Diego, Michael Forcier watched and paced in front of his TV.

There's no way, though, he won't be at the Big House for his son's second game on Saturday against No. 23 Notre Dame.

"Oh yeah, I'll be there for that one," he said.

Rich Rodriguez said Forcier will take the first snap against the Fighting Irish, but he is sticking with his plan to also play speedy freshman Denard Robinson and slow-footed junior Nick Sheridan at quarterback.

Forcier became the third true freshman to start an opener at QB for Michigan, joining Chad Henne and Rick Leach, and the first for Rodriguez.

"He's not your typical freshman coming in that's not been around a little bit because of his older brothers and the exposure he got to camps and teaching and all that," Rodriguez said. "He's a little bit more seasoned and mature from a quarterback standpoint.

"But again, he's just one year removed from high school."

Last fall, Forcier was home-schooling in San Diego and starring at Scripps Ranch High School.

He graduated early, leaving the beach for the snow in Ann Arbor to enroll in classes in the winter and work out with the Wolverines before getting hands-on instruction during spring drills.

Steven Threet, who split starts with Sheridan last season, transferred from Michigan and Sheridan was injured, speeding up Forcier's learning curve in college.

Forcier fit in with his teammates right away, and that has helped them respect him

"He's a good leader for us -- even as a freshman," junior guard Steve Schilling said. "He's confident, and we're confident with him back there."

Confidence has never been a problem for Forcier.

He recalls tagging along with his father and older brothers for workouts when he was 4 or 5, joining them to run sprints up stairs.

"I hated it, but [my father] got to me to where I am and I love him for it," he said.

When he was 8 or 9, Forcier started to hone his passing mechanics and improve his strength, conditioning and sports psychology under the guidance of Marinovich.

The former USC and NFL player is a respected conditioning coach who works with athletes such as Troy Polamalu. Marinovich, though, is also known as an overbearing father. His son, Todd, was a star for the Trojans and a first-round pick whose career was stunted by substance abuse.

"Ability-wise, Tate is very similar to Todd because he's in control on the field with great biomechanics and a win-any-game confidence," Marv Marinovich said. "I've only spent time with Tate on the field, so I can't say what he's really like [off the field]."

Forcier didn't have much time to get in trouble while he was growing up because his schedule was packed with activities to make him a better QB.

"His daily regime was wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning, grab a protein shake, go run, come back, go to school," said Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, who recruited Forcier. "Then, he'd go get a workout with a private instructor, a quarterback coach so to speak, then do some homework and practice. That was his daily grind."

While the 19-year-old Forcier seems savvy and focused when it's time to practice or play, he's a fun-loving, goofy teenager with a toothy grin otherwise.

Forcier insisted he wasn't nervous in his first college game, adding he never has been and never will be on the football field.

"He probably was more nervous than he let on," Rodriguez said. "But he didn't act like it, and he didn't seem like it on the sidelines or in pregame. He had a big smile on his face."

His father said he also had a tear on his cheek.

"Tate said he cried when he ran out of the tunnel and on the field and saw 110,000 people and truly realized how much Michigan football means to so many people," he said. "It gets me choked up just thinking about him telling me that because it tells me my son really gets it."