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Brockman era at Murray State about to pass
In September 2010, Casey Brockman’s first pass with Chris Hatcher as Murray State University’s football coach was memorable for the wrong reason. Brockman described it as a wounded duck that should have been intercepted and returned for touchdown.
That’s not how you impress the new boss — especially when you’re a sophomore walk-on who briefly entered the game only because the starter was hurt.
“It was a simple 5-yard out route,” Brockman recalled. “It should have been a pick-six. The guy dropped an interception. It was an awful read and an awful throw. After that I didn’t think I would get another chance to play that season.”
He has come a long way since then. He’s now the most prolific passer in the history of the Ohio Valley Conference, which has produced the likes of Tony Romo, Phil Simms and Kelly Holcomb. Brockman owns all of the OVC’s major career passing records, including yards (9,458), and virtually every school record.
Brockman’s OVC records
Passing yards 9,458
Passing attempts 1,332
Total offense 9,962
Among his many OVC records, Brockman also owns single-game standards for passing yards (600), TDs (8) and completions (45).
When Murray (4-5, 3-3) travels to No. 18 Eastern Kentucky (7-3, 5-2) on Saturday, the senior will need “only” 301 passing yards to set the single-season OVC record, eclipsing Murray’s Justin Fuente (3,497 in 1997). Should be simple enough, since Brockman is fourth in the FCS in passing yards per game (355.22) and threw for an OVC-record 600 in one game last year.
Hatcher, a former quarterback who runs one of the most passer-friendly offenses in college football, had his doubts about Brockman. Especially after watching the then-sophomore go 1 for 4 for minus-5 yards against Central Arkansas — including that shaky first throw.
“It may have been the worst pass I’ve ever seen,” Hatcher said. “I’m going, ‘Oh, my goodness, we’re in trouble tonight.’ But two week later we started him and never looked back. But I remember telling myself, ‘There’s no way this guy will ever play for us.’ ”
Hatcher knows good quarterbacks, having worked with Tim Couch as an assistant at Kentucky under Hal Mumme. He brought Dusty Bonner from UK to NCAA Division II Valdosta State University, where Bonner became a star.
But Brockman’s rise is nothing anyone could have predicted. Not even his father.
Brockman watched Fuente from the Roy Stewart Stadium stands as a child and later saw Murray beat Romo-led Eastern Illinois for a share of the 2002 OVC title.
“We pinch ourselves all the time,” Tab Brockman said. “We count our blessings for the fact that he’s been able to play for the team he wanted to play for.”
The Calloway County High School star never received a Division I scholarship offer, even from the hometown team. He walked on at Murray State and, due to quarterback injuries, started three games under Matt Griffin, who was fired after the 2009 season.
Hatcher, despite initial skepticism, gave Brockman another chance, and the results have been staggering. He won’t approach Steve McNair’s FCS record of 14,496 passing yards, but he has put up some eye-popping numbers.
Last month he was 45 of 67 for 537 yards and eight touchdowns with an interception in a 66-59 loss to Tennessee-Martin. The TD passes set an OVC record, and the completions tied his own mark.
“You have to have a system in place that matches the skill set of your quarterback,” Hatcher said. “Casey’s development has been a match made in heaven.”
This season hasn’t been heaven for the Racers, whose three OVC losses are by a total of 11 points.
EKU has won 10 of the teams’ past 11 meetings. Brockman, a journalism major, hopes to write a strong ending with two games left in his college career.
“It’s pretty gratifying, but I don’t think it means as much to me now as it will in five or 10 years,” said the candidate for the Walter Payton Award as the FCS’ top player. “I’ve broken every school record. It’s been pretty special and humbling.”
Written by Michael Grant, The Courier-Journal