Great Expectations-Rocket Football Kicks Off!

September 16th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in In The News

Rockets Enter 2011 Campaign as Preseason Favorites to Win MAC

Year three of the Tim Beckman era begins exactly where Rocket football fans expect their team to be: on top of the heap. But Beckman knows, it’s where you end up at the end of the season that really counts.

Toledo was  picked to finish first in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division by the league’s media in the preseason poll. The Rockets received 83 votes in the annual poll to edge defending West champion Northern Illinois by two points. Toledo also received the most votes to win the MAC Football Championship Game between the winners of the West and East Divisions.

Beckman appreciated the vote of confidence in his program, calling it an indication of the progress of the team since he took over a program that went 3-9 in 2008. But he sees his team as a work in progress, not a finished product.

“We are getting to where we need to get to,” said Beckman. “We’re not there yet because we haven’t won the MAC Championship yet. But it speaks volumes about the direction of the program.”

Toledo is coming off an 8-5 season in 2010 (7-1 MAC), including an appearance in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl vs. FIU and a non-conference victory over Purdue. It was Toledo’s first winning season and first bowl berth since 2005.

And yet, Beckman and his team ended the 2010 season feeling only partially satisfied. A late-season loss at Northern Illinois cost Toledo a chance to play in the MAC Championship Game, while a last-second defeat to FIU in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl left the Rockets feeling like they have something to prove in 2011.

“We learned a lot from the loss in the bowl game and also from our loss to Northern Illinois,” said Beckman. “We were so close to achieving our goal of being in the MAC Championship Game, and then so close to achieving our goal of winning a bowl game.

“We know we were successful last year by winning eight football games. There were not many teams that won eight games in the regular season last year. That’s a great accomplishment. But the bottom line is we were not in the MAC Championship Game and we didn’t win the bowl game. These players understand that they’ve accomplished something, but at the same time they have not accomplished all their goals.”

Besides being highly motivated, the Rockets are also deep, talented and experienced. All but six starters return from last season’s squad, including All-America wide receiver/kickoff returner Eric Page and four other All-MAC players. The Rockets’ offense features 1000-yard rusher Adonis Thomas, two accomplished quarterbacks and a pair of tackles­—Mike VanDerMeulen and John Morookian— who are entering their fourth season together as starters. The defense also returns seven starters, including two All-MAC players, linebacker Dan Molls and defensive end T.J. Fatinikun.

Despite these positives, Beckman knows that a lot of hard work and many unanswered questions stand between his Rockets and an appearance in the 2011 MAC title game at Detroit’s Ford Field in December.

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Video Interview with Coach Tim Beckman

September 16th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Videos

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Video Highlights from 2010 Season

September 16th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Videos

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Adonis Thomas: Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

September 16th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in In The News

By Brad Pettiford, Athletic Media Relations Office

It came like a flash, a sudden moment early in Toledo’s matchup against Florida International in the 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. But just like that, college football fans around the country were asking themselves, “Who is that guy?”

Sure, they had heard of Eric Page, the Rockets’ speedy wide receiver and All-American kick returner, but Adonis Thomas? Who is he?

Thomas’ 87-yard touchdown in the first quarter of the bowl game, his second score of the contest, highlighted a career-best 193-yard performance. Toledo lost the game, 34-32, but Thomas grabbed the attention of the national television audience and solidified his status as a rising star for the Rockets.

Virtually every college football preview magazine pegged him for the preseason All-MAC team. He also made the “Watch List” for the 2011 Doak Walker Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top running back. Despite the heightened recognition, Thomas acknowledges that he is still flying under the radar.

“In my class, you have big-name guys like LaMichael James (Oregon) and Trent Richardson (Alabama) and I’m not mentioned with them,” Thomas said. “So I feel like I still have a lot to prove.”

While Thomas is still trying to make a name for himself on the national scene, he is honored to have his name mentioned among the pantheon of former Rocket standouts. He is aware of the exploits of those who have preceded him at his position – stars like Wasean Tait, Chester Taylor, Trinity Dawson, Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins – and is motivated to join their company in the UT record books.

More importantly, however, he wants to be remembered as a key part of a championship team.

“I’d like to rush for over 1,000 yards and lead the conference and even the nation in rushing,” said Thomas. “But most importantly I want to be a great leader for this team. As long as the running game is doing the job and our team is winning, I’ll be happy.”

Thomas has developed into a complete running back during his collegiate career despite humble beginnings. A two-star high school prospect from New Jersey, he redshirted as a freshman in 2007. In 2008, he played in just seven games, all but one of them exclusively on special teams. A year later he gained only 151 yards, playing in just four games in the backfield.

Even as late as the season opener last year, Thomas was still No. 2 on the depth chart. He got his first start against Ohio in week two, rushing for 53 yards on 17 carries. Two weeks later he rushed for 79 yards in a 34-21 win over Purdue. From that point on it was clear that Thomas would be a force.

“I think it all clicked for me during the Purdue game last year,” Thomas said. “I was able to break a lot of big runs and had a nice reception for a first down. It just seemed like everything was gelling and the game came so naturally to me that I realized that I could be pretty good.”

Thomas closed out the 2010 campaign on a roll, gaining over 100 yards in four of the Rockets’ last six contests. He finished the season with 1,098 yards, a conference-leading 6.3 yards per carry and 10 total touchdowns, earning second-team All-MAC honors.

Thomas’ perseverance is a testament to his hard work and team-first attitude. He patiently waited in the wings and made the most of his opportunity when it finally arrived.

“The limited playing time early in my career was frustrating, but at the same time it was a blessing in disguise,” Thomas said. “I got to see the game from the outside and learn from other peoples’ mistakes, so when I got my opportunity I didn’t make those same mistakes.

“When I finally got my opportunity, I wanted to show the coaches that I really could have helped the team earlier. But good things come to those who wait.”

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Art on the Mall

September 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in In The News

On Sunday, July 31 the Main Campus of the University of Toledo was blanketed with art, when the 19th annual Art on the Mall took place.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 110 artists showcased their creations in a variety of art forms, including watercolors, jewelry, ceramics, glass, metal, photography, textiles, and mixed-media artwork. Upward of 10,000 guests from the community converged on Centennial Mall to partake in this annual celebration of art, music and festivity. Crowds arrived early and were eager to purchase their treasures to avoid the afternoon sun.

Art on the Mall continues to be free and open to the public thanks to our generous sponsors and again featured musical performances from the Toledo School for the Arts including strings, jazz, pop and steel drums.

Art on the Mall is sponsored by The Blade, Buckeye CableSystem, 101.5 The River, 92.5 Kiss FM, Homewood Press, and Toledo 5.

Art on the Mall
2011 Results

Best of Show – Michael Kersey

1st Place – Sue Szabo & Clifton Harvey

2nd Place – Larry Zengel & Kathy Palmer-Genzman

3rd Place – Amy Beeler & Jason Parsley

Purchase Award – Elyse Osborne

Congratulations to all 2011 award winners!

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