The following member of the Bearcats Blog countdown club, I'm sure all the players who have been named so far are calling it the Bearcats Blog countdown club stay with me, is one of the most recent to have played. It's Zach Collaros. Even thought I've written about young Zachary for years, I still write Zack half the time. I blame Zack Morris for making me think everyone spell Zack like that. Zach Collaros doesn't have a lot in common with Zack Morris. Besides the pronunciation of their names. Collaros is from Ohio. Morris is from Indiana or California. Collaros has dark hair. Morris dyed his hair blonde. Both could get away with calling timeout though. The biggest thing that separates the men is that Zack Morris isn't real. Zach Collaros is very real. He's also the lucky number 13. I'm sure Collaros thinks the number 13 has mystic powers. After all, he's the only person in UC history who was stolen by ghosts.
Zach Collaros came to Cincinnati a 3 star recruit. He left a 5 star quarterback. He was a first team All-Big East selection after his junior season. He led the Bearcat Redeem Team to a 10 win season and a Liberty Bowl championship. He filled in admirably when Heisman hopeful Tony Pike went down in 2009. If Collaros wasn't good, Cincinnati wasn't going to go undefeated that season. Well, he wasn't good. He was great. Hell, Collaros made a big run in his freshman season to set up a win against Akron. The only thing that holds Collaros down on the list are his injuries. He missed games in both his junior and senior seasons. If he doesn't get hurt against West Virginia, who knows if last year's team is playing in the Orange Bowl. Collaros doesn't have the flashy numbers that Tony Pike did, nor the full career Gino Guidugli did, but out of the 3, I believe Collaros was the best QB.
For a freshman quarterback, Zach Collaros started his career off playing a lot of special teams. When I say a lot of special teams, I mean he was on one of the coverage teams. He made a tackle in the Hawaii game. That type of special teams. Not just being the holder. Collaros was thrown into action at QB when Tony Pike broke his arm against Akron. Collaros came in with UC at the Akron 35. He ran for 5 yards on the first play. UC got pushed back thanks to a hold. Collaros ran for 7 yards to get UC in field goal position. The kick was good. UC won 17-15. Collaros played in the USF game later in the season. He ran a sneak with UC backed up to the goal line. He ran for 9 yards later in the game as UC ran out the clock.
Collaros threw 4 passes that season. He completed 1 against Akron for 2 yards. Collaros ran 6 times that season for 29 yards. He made 1 tackle. It was a year of learning, not a year of putting up gigantic stats.
Zach once again backed up Tony Pike to start 2009. With the Bearcats being an explosive offensive team, Collaros got to see a lot of early season action. He played against Rutgers. He was 2-2 for a career high 34 yards. He ran for 7 yards as well. He saw more action against Southeast Missouri State. He was 4-9 for a new career high of 95 yards. This game was notable for Collaros' first TD passes. He hit Marshwan Gilyard for 37 yards for his first TD. In the 3rd quarter, Collaros hit Charley Howard for a 43 yard TD pass. I don't know who Charley Howard is either. He only caught 2 passes that season.
The big break for Collaros came when Tony Pike had problems with his previously broken arm against South Florida. Pike went out of the game with UC up 17-10. The Bearcats were facing a 3rd and 11. The crowd was loud. USF was ready to take the momentum back. That's when this happened.
It was his first rushing TD. Collaros ran for a career high 132 yards on 10 carries. He added another TD later in the game. Collaros completed 4-7 for 72 yards. He did throw an INT. Zach got his first start the following game against Louisville. He went off on the Cardinals. He completed 15 of 17 passes for 253 yards and 3 TDs. Collaros added 52 rushing yards. Collaros outdid himself the next week against Syracuse. He completed 22 of 28 for 295 yards. He threw for 4 TDs, which accounted for every UC TD that day. The trend for Zach was setting career highs in passing yards every week. That would stop after the Bearcats played UConn. Not for bad reasons, but because Collaros was so awesome. Collaros had the best game of his career that night. He was 29 of 37 for 480 yards. He threw 1 TD. He ran for 75 yards and added 2 scores that way. The Bearcats held on to win that one 47-45.
Tony Pike was nearly ready to return the next game against West Virginia. Collaros started and played most of the game. He was 17 of 24 for 205 yards and threw an INT. When Collaros got UC in the red zone, Pike came in and threw a couple of TDs. Zach ran for 44 yards in that game. Pike took the reins back for the rest of the season. Collaros had 2 runs for 12 yards against Illinois. He had 1 carry for no yards against Pitt. He didn't play in the Sugar Bowl.
Zach Collaros completed 93-124 passing. That is an excellent 75%. That's really hard to do. Collaros threw for 1,434 yards. He had 10 TDs against 2 INTs. He ran for 344 yards and 4 TDs. He was 4-0 as a starter on a team that went undefeated through the regular season.
The starting job belonged to Zach for his junior season. Expectations were very high with first year coach Butch Jones. Things started great. Collaros hit DJ Woods for a 23 yard TD and ran for one himself. Then he was sacked roughly 28 times by Chris Carter and the rest of the Fresno State defense. Collaros was 24-41 for 219 yards, 1 TD. He had 1 TD rushing, but lost 22 yards on the ground. Indiana State was next. UC got the first win for Jones in part thanks to Collaros. After starting slowly, he threw 2 TDs to Armon Binns and ran for a score in a 40-7 romp. Zach was 11-17, 130, 2 TDs. He ran for 32 yards and 1 TD. Collaros threw for 1, 2 and 3 TDs the first 3 weeks of the season. Unfortunately, his 3 TD game against NC State came in a loss. He was 19-31, 310 yards and 3 TDs. He ran for 32 yards. The Bearcats lost a tough one the following game against Oklahoma. Collaros had to take some of the blame. He threw an INT in the end zone. That took at least 3 points off the boards for UC, and lead to an OU field goal. With UC down 24-22, he was sacked and fumbled at the OU 43. The Sooners scored a TD that sealed it. Collaros had a solid game overall. He was 23-38, 305 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. He could have had a 4th TD, but DJ Woods fumbled into the end zone. It was a tough game.
UC mounted a winning streak behind #12. He completed 14 of 17 for 216 yards and 3 TDs to lead a blowout of Miami. Louisville was next up on the schedule. Collaros had another career game against the Cards. In a 35-27 shootout, Collaros threw for 275 yards on 18-28. The impressive part were his 5 TD passes, which was a career high. 3 of the TDs went to Armon Binns, the other 2 to DJ Woods. Zach added 32 rushing yards. Collaros shattered his high in attempts the next week against USF. He threw 52 passes, completing 30. He had 463 yards. He had 3 TDs and 1 INT. Zach also punted for the only time in his career. It went 35 yards. The INT came in the red zone, which hurt. The 3rd TD pass was the last for Collaros in the game. He got hurt on the throw and didn't play the last drive. UC came up 8 points short. Collaros was forced to miss the following week against Syracuse.
Collaros was able to return to action against West Virginia. Things didn't go smoothly. He threw an INT with UC at the WV 14 with UC down 14. The Bearcats were down 21-0 when UC stepped on the field again. He was picked off and to add injury to insult, he was called for a personal foul that put West Virginia at the UC 6. The Mountaineers scored again. The Bearcats were blown out. Collaros was 25-45 for 221 yards and 2 INTs. The Bearcats had an offensive explosion in their last win of the year against Rutgers. Collaros hit 23 of 39 passes for 366 yards and 4 TDs. He had an INT. Collaros ran for a TD in that game. He pushed the offense to a 69 point performance. UC scored just 27 points the rest of the season. Zach was 26-50 for 288 yards against UConn. He had 1 TD. He also ran for 84 yards, a season high, and a TD. He threw 4 INTs though. One came with UC at the UConn 9. Another was on a bomb. The third ruined a drive where the Bearcats had the ball near midfield. The 4th didn't matter because there were like 2 minutes left and UC was down 21. But still, it was a 4 INT game. That was probably the worst game of his career. The last game was in snowy conditions against Pitt. He was 12-24 for 109 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. He ran for 47 yards.
Collaros was named first team All-Big East for his performance this season. He completed 225-383 passes for 58.7%. He had 2,902 yards. He threw 26 TD passes against 14 INTs. Collaros ran for 202 yards and 4 TDs. He was the Big East lead in passing yards and TDs. He was 2nd in passing efficiency.
The 2011 season started much better for Collaros and the Bearcats than the 2010 opener. He threw 12 completions, 4 of which went for TDs. He had just 134 yards, but he didn't need to have a lot. He added 25 rushing yards for kicks. Collaros was 21-34, 230 yards, 2 TDs against Tennessee. But he had 3 short yardage runs stopped. 1 would have converted a first down. Tennessee scored the following series. Down 21, he had 2 runs from the 1 stopped and threw an incompletion on 3rd down. UC settled for 3. The runs weren't Collaros' fault inasmuch as they weren't great playcalls. He had 7 carries for 1 yard that game.
Zach didn't let the Tennessee loss phase him. He lit up Akron for 157 yards and 1 TD on 10-16 passing. He ran for 15 yards and 1 TD. Collaros kept it going against NC State. He was sharp in the air and on the ground. Collaros was 24-34, 263 yards. He threw for 2 TDs. He ran for 2 TDs. He had 58 total rushing yards. He did throw a pick, but it didn't matter. Collaros was sloppy against Miami. He threw 2 INTs in the red zone. He also lost a fumble in the red zone. It put a damper on a 16-30, 251 yard, 89 rushing yards, performance. He did throw 1 TD. Collaros faced his familiar foe for big games, Louisville, next. He threw 2 first half TDs. One was to DJ Woods to put UC up 7-6. The other went to Mike Evans. If that name doesn't sound familiar, it's because Mike Evans plays for Louisville. Louisville went up 16-7 after that play. Collaros ran for a TD to cut the lead to 2. He threw a 2 point conversion pass after Isaiah Pead ran for a 50 yard TD. Collaros was 18-26, 152 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 22 yards rushing, 1 TD.
I just said Collaros had big numbers against Louisville, but he had mega huge numbers when he played South Florida. Collaros threw a TD pass to Isaiah Pead, threw a 21 yard TD pass to Adrien Robinson, ran one in from 3 yards out, threw a 30 yard TD pass to Alex Chisum to put UC ahead and with 12 seconds left, he ran for another TD to give UC the win. He contributed on all 5 UC TDs. He torched the Bulls for 383 yards on 26-41. It was the only 300 yard passing game that season. Collaros wasn't amazing against Pitt, 19-32, 214 yards. He threw 2 INTs. 1 would nearly be taken for a TD. The other came late and gave Pitt a chance to get the score tied. They didn't. Collaros ran for 20 yards and 2 TDs. Those were the only TDs the Bearcats would score.
The Bearcats controlled their Big East fate. West Virginia rolled into Paul Brown Stadium for a big clash. Collaros was 7-11 for 70 yards. On a play early in the 2nd quarter, Collaros was sacked by Bruce Irvin. He came down very awkwardly and fumbled the ball. WV scored a TD, but the biggest loss was Collaros. He missed the final 3 games of the regular season. Collaros was able to return for the final game of the season. That game was the Liberty Bowl against Vanderbilt. Collaros was rusty. He was only 12-29 for 80 yards. He threw 1 TD, but 2 INTs. The Bearcats won and Collaros went out a winner.
The senior season stats for Collaros were as followed. He was 166-272, 61%. He threw for 1,934 yards. He had 15 TDs against 10 INTs. He ran for 284 yards and 8 TDs. Collaros was 5th in the league in rushing TDs. He was 3rd in TDs and 7th in yards.
The career numbers for Zach Collaros were 485-783, 62%, 6,272 yards, 51 TDs, 26 INTs. He had 809 yards rushing with 16 TDs. And 1 punt for 35 yards. In the 2000s, Collaros is 6th in the league in completion percentage, 10th in yards and 10th in TDs.
Why He Made the List
Zach Collaros didn't carry Cincinnati to new heights. What he did was a little harder than that. Zach Collaros stabilized Cincinnati football. He started after back to back seasons that ended in BCS appearances. Collaros had a huge responsibility to maintain the level of the program. It was not an easy job. But Zach Collaros did it. Winning 10 games is no joke. Like I said earlier, if Collaros didn't get hurt against West Virginia, maybe things turn out better for the Bearcats. Maybe he has a BCS game on his resume. As it turns out, he had a hell of a career anyway. UC football would not be where it's at now if it weren't for Collaros. We are seeing how spoiled we were with Collaros following Tony Pike. Zach was a fantasic player.
What He's Doing Now
Zach was a college free agent who signed in Tampa Bay. He got released, but he landed on his feet in the CFL with Toronto. Zach is on twitter, where you can follow him @ZCollaros7.