Thinking of the great rushing quarterbacks in football history, names such as Steve Young or, more recently, Michael Vick come to mind.
But by this time Saturday, the NCAA will more than likely have a new name atop the list of total rushing yardage from a quarterback.
Ferris State signal-caller Jason Vander Laan is just 71 yards away from having more rushing yards than any quarterback, at any level.
“That’s the nice part,” Vander Laan said. “I didn’t want to have to be stressing out about it.”
To those that have watched Vander Laan and the Ferris State offense this season, the 71 yards feat seems like one that can be accomplished if Vander Laan happens to fall forward a few times.
Vander Laan eclipsed the 71-yard mark before halftime in last week’s 56-21 win against Tiffin. He is chasing former Wofford quarterback Shawn Greaves, who finished his career in 1992 with 5,182 yards rushing.
“Were not really focusing on the rush record by any means,” Vander Laan said. “If I run the ball two times for ten yards it’s not going to bother me.
“We got five more games left to play and it’ll be a cool milestone. But we just got to take it one week at a time and focus on the game and focus on winning.”
Led by Vander Laan, Ferris State boasts the GLAIC’s top offense in both total points and total yardage. This week, the Bulldogs face Ohio Dominican, the team that ended their playoff run before reaching the quarterfinals last season.
Vander Laan has a conference leading 646 yards in five games this season, but understands the importance of a flexible game plan.
“Coach takes whatever the defense gives us,” Vander Laan said. “It helps me at quarterback because you get an extra blocker when you get that running back to block for you.
“Our O-Line just had a phenomenal year and whenever were handing it off … it seems like were going to have success running the ball down hill.”
Breaking the record against the team that ended the 2014 season for Ferris State might shrink the “chip” on Vander Laan’s shoulder, but he admitted that winning will be the only way for the Bulldogs to truly redeem themselves.
“Just looking back, even in preparation for this week, just made us kind of angry that we didn’t come out on top there,” Vander Laan said. “If we just execute our offense and go out there. Not so much worried about them, but worried about us doing our game plan and then we should be able to be successful.”
At this pace, Vander Laan will undoubtedly be considered for the Harlon Hill Trophy -- the Division II equivalent to the Heisman -- at the end of the season. Vander Laan won the trophy in 2014 and can be fourth person since the inception of the award in 1986 to win in consecutive years.