96. Life after Zach Terrell

There are 96 days until MACtion returns. Until then, we count the days

Last year was the first year without Zach Terrell under center at Western Michigan. It was the first for a lot of things, like first year without Corey Davis too, first year with Tim Lester as the head coach, first year for some other receivers to finally get some playing time, but the difference at quarterback stood out.

When Terrell graduated, he was fourth in Mid-American Conference history with 96 touchdowns thrown, tied for fourth in career passing percentage with Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Johnson at .654 and was widely recognized for his career quarterback rating of 157.7.

It was a pretty rough time for Terrell to get things going as a college quarterback. He came in as a true freshman out of Fort Wayne, Ind. (Homestead) and was thrown into a really difficult situation, trying to pick up Tyler Van Tubbergen’s slack in the midst of a really bad season. In 2013, Terrell started the final five games of the season and never looked back.

Even after torching UMass for four touchdowns two weeks after his first start, Terrell’s freshman year was pretty difficult to play through. The Broncos went 1-11 including a loss to Nichols State and there was a new head coach in P.J. Fleck that hadn’t quite won over the crowd for him being a young dude with charisma that’s leading his team to, again, a 1-11 season.

After that, things turned around pretty quickly. Terrell’s QBR over the next three seasons went up to 167.6 — so things turned out for the better for this quarterback. It helps when that 1-11 season turns into a footnote when Terrell, then a senior, helped take a team up the rankings and was the Group of 5 representative against Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.

But last year was the redshirt-sophomore’s turn. After studying behind Terrell for two years, Jon Wassink had his chance to start as the new quarterback for the Tim Lester era. Wassink didn’t exactly ‘wow’ anybody and Lester said early on in the season that he’d take things slowly with the new guy.

Wassink’s debut season, however, was shortened to nine games after suffering a broken collarbone against Eastern Michigan. For whatever it’s worth, Wassink’s stat line for his first season was a little better than Terrell’s right out of high school.

Passing Percentage Yards Y/A TD-INT QBR
Zach Terrell (2013) 133-251 53% 1,602 6.4 8-8 110.7
Jon Wassink (2017) 124-193 64.2% 1,391 7.2 14-4 144.6

This isn’t to say that Wassink is better than Terrell, or that the Lester era has to turn out the same way that the Fleck era did, but what WMU has right now in Wassink had a good first year. And just by having experience alone, Wassink could be poised to have an even better year as a junior — without having to be a Terrell 2.0.


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