COLUMN: Poljan is CMU's quarterback of the future
There are many questions the Central Michigan football team will have to answer before 2018 season.
But at quarterback, Tony Poljan is the answer.
Out of high school, Poljan had offers from Central Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Michigan State and Toledo.
Throughout his four years as a student at Lansing Catholic High School, the dual-threat quarterback completed 390-of-670 passes for 6,090 yards, 58 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. On the ground, he logged 500 carries for 3,118 yards and 58 touchdowns.
Poljan, during his freshman year of high school, only threw two passes and took 13 carries, so most of his numbers came from his junior and senior years.
The Chippewas, following a 37-14 loss to Wyoming in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, are losing a ton of seniors, including graduate transfer quarterback Shane Morris. But, Poljan is ready to step in.
“There’s still a lot to learn and I have to continue to grow,” Poljan said. “I’m looking to take over next year.”
Morris, senior tight end Tyler Conklin and senior receivers Corey Willis, Mark Chapman and Eric Cooper have all played their final game in uniform for CMU's offense.
Morris threw for 3,237 yards, 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on 249-of-446 passing. He also ran the ball for 93 yards and three touchdowns on 88 carries.
Conklin, Willis, Chapman and Cooper combined for 2,333 yards receiving on 168 receptions. The next highest receiver was junior tight end Logan Hessbrook, who made 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.
“I think Poljan is the ultimate competitor,” Willis said. “Being a competitor myself, we just clicked since day one. I don’t think there are many quarterbacks who can play receiver at a high level, so that shows he’s a great player.”
One of the biggest aspects Poljan brings to the table is his ability to pass and run at a high rate. In just 27 carries, he logged 125 yards and a touchdown. His 4.6 yards per carry average was second to only sophomore running back Jonathan Ward.
When being called on as a quarterback in the 2017 season, Poljan completed 61.9 percent of passes, going 13-of-21 through the air for 78 yards. He did not throw an interception.
If being able to make plays with his arm and feet is not enough evidence to prove Poljan is the future, he has a ton of experience with the offense under head coach John Bonamego.
“I said from the beginning of the year that Poljan was going to play an important part in the offense,” Bonamego said. “He’s taken snaps at quarterback and receiver when the game was on the line. He’s been tested under the fire and has had the chance to go out and compete.”
Poljan played receiver during the 2017 season, making five catches for 97 yards. Having experience as a passer, running quarterback and receiver gives Poljan the understanding of the playbook, as he knows the ins and outs of the offense.
“It’s definitely given me a different perspective in what the wide receivers see in comparison to what the quarterbacks see,” Poljan said.
The last CMU quarterback to log significant passing, rushing and receiving yards was Dan Lefevour from 2006-2009. Over his career, he threw for 12,905 yards, ran for 2,948 yards and caught for 58 receiving yards.
Poljan, who will be a redshirt sophomore with two years of college football under his belt, has a chance to be the next Lefevour if used right in Bonamego’s offense.
In order to gain the starting job, he will have to beat out Tommy Lazzaro, Austin Hergott and incoming freshman George Pearson.
“Poljan’s going to be the next quarterback at Central Michigan,” Willis said.
Poljan is the answer. He is the future.