Wheaton makes a strong case for "small quarterback U"
Coming into this season, the Wheaton College (D-III - IL) offensive staff had a unique challenge in front of them. They had to tmake a decision between two two highly successful, and game tested quarterbacks.
Jordan Roberts won the job over Garrett Meador back in 2010 when they were both sophomores, and led the Thunder to a playoff berth and 10-2 record, while also setting a new school record for completion percentage (66.4%)
Had Roberts stayed healthy, it would have been very difficult to beat out. But during a preseason scrimmage, he suffered a season ending injury and Meador stepped in and ran with the opportunity. In his first season as a starter, Meador led Wheaton to an 8-2 record and was named the conference and North Region player of the year, and also finished just behind Roberts' completion percentage record.
So when both of their senior years rolled around this season, head coach Mike Swider and offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Joe Davis had quite the decision on their hands. They found themselves having to chose between two proven signal callers, which is ironically a situation that many FBS coordinators and head coaches wish that they had to make heading into their season opener (minus the obnoxious media questions everyday of course).
Both of those guys had opportunities to play in bigger environments coming out of high school (Roberts was a two time All-State QB, and Meador was a national player of the year and All-American), but the unique faith based environment that Wheaton offers often appeals to big time players with strong religious convictions.
Because of their on the field success combined with that unique religious environment, the staff at Wheaton is able to be very selective when recruiting. In many cases, they're going to get the cream of the crop and their far-reaching footprint has allowed them to be able to recruit at a national level for the past several years. Once players get on campus, the staff does a great job of developing them physically, mentally and spiritually, and that combination usually leads to having deep junior and senior classes which always pays off on Saturdays.
As the graphic below illustrates, Wheaton has had a rich history of D-III quarterbacks, and it's hard to think of another small college program that has seen this kind of sustained success. Mount Union has recently become known for having their receivers make a splash in the NFL, so maybe Wheaton is starting to head down that same road for their quarterbacks.
Only time will tell, but they seem to have a lot of the pieces in place. An appealing college environment, a coaching staff hungry for success for their players both on and off the field (coach Swider has been there 17 years as the head coach and has spent 28 years on staff). To top it all of, not only do they have a room full of players that many higher level schools were fighting over, but the players are committed to being there for the long haul and are men of character.
Regardless of where you're coaching, that's a very good formula for success.
Take a look at the graphic below and come to your own conclusion.