When things didn’t work out as planned at Western Kentucky, former O’Fallon High all-state quarterback Todd Porter took a long and winding road back to the Division I ranks.
That included a season last fall at Garden City (Kansas) junior college, where he had to compete with nine other quarterbacks in the fall. Porter still wound up starting the final three games and playing in the last four.
Porter helped engineer an upset of top-ranked Butler Community College, then completed 28-of-46 passes the following week for five touchdowns and even caught a 42-yard TD pass himself in a 54-13 win over Iowa Central.
Porter displayed enough highlights in junior college to gain interest from several Division I and FCS (formerly I-AA) teams before signing with Division I Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference in January.
While he’s not in the metro-east recruiting class of seniors ready to sign letters of intent on Wednesday, Porter can reflect proudly on what it took to get another shot.
Ironically, Eastern Michigan recently offered a scholarship to one of Porter’s former teammates, O’Fallon star running back Kentrail Moran. Moran recently decommitted from Illinois and is considered several options, according to Panthers coach Brandon Joggerst.
It was tough and being at a junior college is definitely a different beast, but it humbled me a lot. I think we had nine quarterbacks there when I got to fall camp. It sent me in a different direction and helped me understand the little things about life and football.
Todd Porter on playing football at a junior college
“He’s just reviewing other options and trying to find the best fit,” Joggerst said of Moran, regarded by Rivals.com and Scout.com as one of the top senior running back prospects in the country. “We look for something to happen in the next month.”
Meanwhile, Porter is in the middle of preseason workouts preparing for spring football at Eastern Michigan, the same school where former O’Fallon punter Austin Barnes has hammered out a great career. The Eagles were 1-11 last season, including 0-8 in league play.
“I signed and we hit the ground running from there,” said Porter, who has two years of eligibility remaining at Eastern Michigan. “I’m just looking to make the most of this opportunity. I’m sure you can imagine how small of a clock I’ve got right now. I have dreams of playing at the next level, but I’ve got to be able to compete here and play here in order to have that opportunity.
“It has definitely been a humbling experience.”
After breaking nearly every career passing record at O’Fallon, throwing for more than 6,200 yards and 45 touchdowns, Porter signed with Western Kentucky in 2013.
As far as I’m concerned the spot’s open and it’s my job to go in there and take it.
He played sparingly as a freshman, redshirted as a sophomore and then left school in December of 2014.
“I left there because of playing time,” Porter said. “I had just redshirted my sophomore year after playing my freshman year a little bit and I wasn’t interested in sitting out another year. I looked at some I-AA schools and junior colleges and I decided to go the junior college route because I didn’t want to limit myself. I worked hard every day.”
Porter had chances to avoid the junior college route, but thought that would give him the most options. He spent several months in Kansas chasing a football dream that now has him back in a Division I school in Ypsilanti, Mich.
“It was tough and being at a junior college is definitely a different beast, but it humbled me a lot,” Porter said. “I think we had nine quarterbacks there when I got to fall camp. It sent me in a different direction and helped me understand the little things about life and football. It taught me a lot.”
Things won’t be any less competitive for Porter at Eastern Michigan.
There are five quarterbacks on the roster before signing day, including four redshirt freshmen. The former starter transferred to another school, but Porter remains confident in his abilities.
“As far as I’m concerned the spot’s open and it’s my job to go in there and take it,” Porter said. “It’s learning the guys, learning the offense and the culture down here. Things are going well so far.”