QB Bruce Gradkowski

2003 Statistics

Coach: Tom Amstutz
27-11, 3 years
2003 Record: 8-4
at UNLV LOST 18-28
at Marshall WON 24-17
at Syracuse LOST 7-34
at Central Michigan WON 31-13
at Ball State LOST 14-38
at Bowling Green LOST 23-31

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

Toledo is poised for good things. We have told you about the returning offensive prowess they will have. We have also told you that the defense will be rather improved. What we have yet to point out is how head coach Tom Amstutz's first two recruiting classes are now reaching upper-class status. What Amstutz has done with what he has had makes us realize what he will do with those he has chosen and sought. If it is anything close to what he has already accomplished, Toledo in 2004 will be a midnight blue nightmare for foes. Since he beat Minnesota in his inaugural 2001 effort, the 1977 alum has proven he is the future of this school's program, and what a grand one it appears to be.

What Gradkowski accomplished as only the fourth best QB in his conference for total offense was good enough to rank him eighth in the country! Imagine how good Toledo will be now that Josh Harris' and Ben Roethisberger's departures make Brad the MAC's best. The offense is going to be a juggernaut, with a possible loss early as the new line gets set. The defense will improve enough that its playing levels, especially bolstered by an offense that will make opponents often come from behind, will be the deciding factor that secures Toledo another MAC title shot. What were close shootouts should become ball-controlled victories.

The inaugural tilts with Minnesota and Kansas give way to a cruise that looks easy until the end. Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green combine for a final exam Toledo should pass with (re)vengeful colors. Only Toledo can stop themselves with this much talent. In other words, complacency could become their Achilles heel, for the six cupcakes in the middle pose no threats. Will this northern Ohio team begin to judge itself too highly, inviting the effects of over-confidence? You know what they say about Rocky the Rockets that live in Glass Bowls and throw stones…Toledo could wind up being their own worst enemy, as the lofty heights attained early shatter from the weight of their own success. This team can only look inward if the loss column totals more than two.

Projected 2004 record: 9-2
QB - 4.5 DL - 2
RB - 3.5 LB - 2
WR - 3.5 DB - 3
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Bruce Gradkowski, 389-277-7, 3210 yds., 29 TD

Rushing: Trinity Dawson, 199 att., 999 yds., 10 TD

Receiving: Steve Odom, 62 rec., 838 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Trinity Dawson, 12 TD, 72 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Jason Robbbins, 3-7 FG, 48-50 PAT, 37 long

Tackles: Anthony Jordan, 138 tot., 77 solo, 4 TFL

Sacks: Ray Turner, 4.5 sacks

Interceptions: Antonio Malone, 3 for 54 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Astin Martin, 21 ret., 21.7 avg.

Punt Returns: Steve Odom, 3 ret., 34.0 avg., 1 TD


OFFENSE: Darric Randolph-OG, Tim Dirksen-OG, Erik Faasen-OT
DEFENSE: Ray Turner-DE, Chaz Williams-DT, Robert Menefee-DT, Frank Ofili-DE, Paul Dye-ROV, Brandon Hefflin-CB, Brandon Hannum-P

Brad Gradkowski is only a junior and he is already as good as any other college QB. That's either good news for NFL scouts who see this phenom coming out early, or bad news for MAC opponents who realize he might be back for yet another incredible '05 season. Brad is one of those rare young men who has fully stepped into his potential. He ranked second in the nation in '03 for completion percentage, sixth in pass-efficiency, and eighth in total offense (but only fourth in the MAC!) while he led the team to a ranking of 11th in the ladder category. The result is a guy who averaged 5.5 yards per carry while throwing 29 TDs but only seven INTs as he fell victim to only nine sacks. The two red-shirted freshmen will compete for the honor of backing Gradkowski, so much rides on Brad staying healthy.

Running Back
The running back slot has one strong returning starter and quite a few want-to-bees. Trinity Dawson has adequate size, but his tandem quickness is what allows his low center of gravity and chugging legs to plow through tacklers. Dawson just missed the 1,000 yard mark, but more important was his 5.0 average per carry while only ever losing 27 yards in all of '03. Lance Johnson and Quinton Broussard are the eager backups most likely to play third-down roles. Both should provide an adequate change-of-pace compliment to Gradkowski and Dawson, with many carries for all in the Toledo one-back schemes. Toledo uses no FBs.

Wide Receiver
There is much reason for excitement in Toledo - their stellar QB has all of his favorite targets back. Lance Moore has proven the strongest of the three seniors, with numbers that prove he can stretch defenses. Really, the only problem will be rotating all of the talent in so no one feels discarded. The depth here is facilitated by the three- and four-receiver sets commonly used, so there is little chance for the above-stated problem to occur in '04. Coach Amstutz and OC Rob Spence have shown they will make WRs block downfield quite often, so this position's duality is important for team success.

Tight End
This position is often utilized in Toledo's schemes. First-team All- MAC senior Andrew Clarke had eight TDs, providing an omen for the havoc which he is due to wreak. He has soft-handed backups, too, so the Rockets will be distracting LBs and safeties with regularity, ultimately making life easier for all of the Rockets.

Offensive Line
Well, we finally hit a snag, but not really much of one. Three seniors leave, but all feel that the reload is going to work out by mid-season. Canadian Nick Kaczur is the senior building-block that will be the cornerstone of this unit. This three-year All-MAC left tackle is possibly the best lineman in the conference, while center David Odenthal is a plowing presence who picks up blitzes with keen awareness. There is reason to believe that Toledo will again be the balanced, driving force so many feared, and it will be up to this front line to make the multiple Rocket dimensions go. We expect few, but any offensive failures will be traceable back to this unit.

Toledo had just two games that could be considered offensive failures in 2003. Syracuse and Ball State are not defensive buzz-saws, so we feel justified in claiming that the offensive inconsistencies in these two contests effectively kept Toledo's entire team fate in check. But the offense that took them to this brink last time will put this team over the top in 2004. Their multi-receiver split formations are often decoys - opposing coordinators have to remind their players that Toledo passes and runs pretty evenly, as well as using a TE with deadly precision. The X-factor Gradkowski provides will be again too much for foes. Look for a "conservative" approach to how all of the Rocket talent is utilized, that is until the line gets used to itself and the offense. The result should be another balanced attack that again scores over 50 TDs and ranks in the top ten.


OT Nick Kaczur


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Bruce Gradkowski-Jr (6-2, 210) Marques Council-Fr (6-3, 194)
RB Trinity Dawson-Jr (5-10, 195) Quinton Broussard-Jr (5-9, 200)
WR Lance Moore-Sr (5-11, 184) David Washington-Fr (6-5, 220)
WR Steve Odom-So (5-10, 165) Kenley Horton-So (6-2, 171)
WR Terrance Hudson-Sr (6-1, 184) Kenny Higgins-Sr (6-1, 184)
Pete Lepley-Sr (6-1, 200)
TE Andrew Clarke-Sr (6-4, 249) Chris Holmes-Sr (6-6, 249)
OT Nick Kaczur-Sr (6-5, 305) Jerry Aguwa-So (6-5, 290)
OG Chris Wakeman-Jr (6-5, 290) Jesse Anderson-So (6-5, 285)
C David Odenthal-Sr (6-2, 299) Hassan Adebesin-So (6-2, 292)
OG Wael Jarbou-Sr (6-5, 310) Dave Perkins-Fr (6-2, 290)
OT John Greco-Fr (6-5, 315) Mike Sacco-Sr (6-7, 285)
K Jason Robbins-Jr (5-10, 158) ..
Nick Kaczur....KAY-zer
David Odenthal....OH-den-tall
Wael Jarbou....why-EL jar-BOW
Brock Dodrill....DAH-drill
Jerry Aguwa....ah-GOO-ah
Hassan Adebesin....ah-duh-BEE-sin
Mike Sacco....SOCK-oh
HEAD COACH: Tom Amstutz....AM-stutz



Defensive Line
Toledo loses all four of its starters from a unit that only recorded ten sacks, allowed 3.9 yards per carry, and ranked 52nd against the run. Yes, we feel these losses are a blessing in disguise. Senior Phil Alexander will become the main cog for the Rocket's line. Alexander has speed and power off the end, with tackles for loss accounting for close to half of his '03 stops. His efforts on every down will be effective, as will newbie-sensation Tyree Pollard's. Andre Bouldin is a true freshman we foresee as making an impact early and often - he will rotate in more and more, just watch. The entire corps of reinforcements will pick this area up, but it may take a few weeks for each (including reserves) to learn his role and those of the fellows around him.

Three of the four starting LBs return, but, as pointed out in the line section above, is this good news? The heaviest of the starters is 230-lbs, with one of them even listed under 200. But, ironically, this wasn't a very svelte group, as evidenced through Toledo's poor ranking in pass defense. The positive change this campaign will be a more capable line making their jobs easier. Being freed up this way will allow for better pass coverage and more effective blitzes/stunts. They need to concentrate on taking out opponents underneath routes first and then look for game-changing plays - learn to run before you fly, eh. We will see improvements here as last year's battle scars wear well for this group and their maturing efforts.

Defensive Back
And, finally, the mixed-blessings of three returning members from last campaign's defensive backs. The talent is here, but the infamous "P" word - potential - has yet to be reached. Injuries have impacted the efforts of both senior Patrick Body and junior Antonio Malone, but each is now ready to go full-throttle. Bo Martin is a big, physical cover guy who has to get a good chuck to start, or he is often beat. But if potential can even be approached, this unit will improve its results. With the LBs sure to have more freedom outside the box, the secondary will, too, be sequentially affected for the good at some point, and from then on, once that's established.

The inconsistencies on this side of the ball were what arguably kept Toledo from that upper-tier of 2003 mid-majors. This team lived the old adage that "a game is won or lost on the line". Well, the latest version of Toledo's defense will have solved this delinquent dimension. A sizeable, effective middle presence will re-bolster the line and what it can do as a building-block for this entire side of the ball. The empowerment carried over to other defensive dimensions will make the entire team better as they run their modified 4-4 scheme. All the Rockets need for improved results is to be marginally better on defense, so look out when this begins to come true. And it will in 2004.


TE Andrew Clarke


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Phil Alexander-Sr (6-3, 254) Melvin Butler-Jr (6-2, 240)
DT J.P. Bekasiak-So (6-5, 272) Patrick Clark-Fr (6-4, 260)
DT Tyree Pollard-Fr (6-4, 310) Sean Williamson-So (6-2, 287)
DE Jerome Walker-So (6-5, 257) Don Gaines-Sr (6-4, 252)
ILB Anthony Jordan-Jr (6-3, 230) Seth Thitoff-So (6-2, 225)
ILB David Thomas-Sr (6-2, 230) Mike Alston-So (6-2, 205)
WHIP Michael Broussard-Sr (5-11, 200) Rodney Gamby-So (5-1, 197)
CB Bo Martin-So (6-1, 198) Nigel Morris-Fr (6-0, 164)
CB Antonio Malone-Jr (6-1, 186) Jason Flowers-Jr (6-0, 174)
ROV Keon Jackson-Jr (5-11, 206) Travis Williams-Fr (6-2, 192)
FS Patrick Body-Sr (6-2, 201) Shawn Nixon-Jr (6-1, 191)
P Jason Cox-Jr (6-1, 207) ..
J.P. Bekasiak....buh-KAY-zee-ak Seth Thitoff....THEE-toff




Jason Robbins has proven reliable, even with his weak showing last time (3-for-7). But his foot is not very strong, so a close game will be likely lost when Robbins cannot be relied upon for the needed long one at the end. But with Gradkowski holding, opponents had best pay attention.

Jason Cox is an experienced kid with an average foot. But also beware of this ex-QB, for he hit a TD pass against Minnesota in '02. He has competition, so keep an eye on this prize. But, with Cox's 36 yard average, Toledo will not be anywhere near fifth in net punting again.

Return Game
Aaron Moore lit up the country with almost 13 yards per punt return and 22 per kick runback. He will be even better, and Toledo will need him to offset the field-position losses they will soon incur from the punting game.


RSF Marques Council showed Toledo fans how bright the future will be with a 21 for 32, 258 yard, three TD passing performance in the spring game. He showed great scrambling ability and the ability to throw extremely well on the run. The run game was average, as coaches limited the play of their stars. One of the (former) "baby backs", Astin Martin, has transferred to Division II Grand Valley State, in order to be closer to his family. BIG WR David Anderson (6'5, 220) was the most improved receiver this spring. With their top two TEs leaving after this year, the Rockets may try to bulk him up and make him one of the more athletic TEs in the MAC down the road. WRs Kenny Higgins and Pete Lepley stepped up this spring and will provide depth. Amstutz praised the play and potential of Wael Jarbou, who will step into the RG position on that reloading O-line. Collectively, things are coming along smoothly up front. Jason Robbins will be challenged by a couple of freshmen (Scott Svarney and Brett Kern) for the kicking duties in the fall. Kern is a name to remember, as he could end up handling both kicking and punting.

Amstutz says his concerns about the defensive line have subsided, thanks to their enchanting play this spring. The problem seems to be getting them eligible. RSF DT Tyree Pollard showed great quickness and athleticism, and a real knack for pursuit (to the ball). Seth Thitoff has moved up from LB and looks to give them even more speed down the depth chart. Coaches hope stud recruit, Andre Bouldin can boost his scores to qualify this season. He's an immediate impact player. Linebacking is a bit thin, so various switches have been made. One, in particular, is Lance Johnson, who comes over from RB. Also, the word around Toledo is that Brock Dodrill is back, working out with the team and currently trying to pass summer courses to become eligible. Despite what occurrences have happened in the past, he appears to be diligently trying be part of this football family again. He would be an awesome boost to this LB squad. The pass defense needs some work, though going against this pass offense will ultimately strengthen them. Michael Broussard was the defensive MVP from his WHIP position and will have a breakout year for the Rockets.

DT Tyree Pollard (rsf)
WR Nick Moore (fr)
WR Gabe Hatchett (jr)
DL Andre Bouldin (fr)