GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Tusculum quarterback Bo Cordell doesn’t pay much attention to his individual numbers, even as he’s on the verge of breaking the NCAA Division II record for career yards passing.
“I’ve never been a big stat guy,” Cordell said. “There are some guys who look at stats 10 times a week to see where they are. That’s not me.”
For someone who isn’t a big stat guy, Cordell sure has produced big stats.
Cordell has 14,340 career yards passing and is 393 shy of the Division II record heading into Saturday’s game at Carson-Newman. Zach Amedro threw for 14,733 yards at West Liberty from 2007-10. Case Keenum, who played at Houston from 2007-11, had the most career yards passing (19,217) of any college player in history regardless of classification.
Cordell already owns a Division II record for career completions with 1,243.
“He’s a Division I football player playing in a Division II league if you ask me,” Tusculum coach Frankie DeBusk said.
Saturday’s game could feature other milestones as well. Carson-Newman’s Ken Sparks will coach his 400th career game Saturday and can earn his 314th win to match Amos Alonzo Stagg and Roy Kidd for seventh place on the all-time list.
Cordell, a fifth-year senior from Cincinnati, wasn’t big enough or fast enough to get recruited by larger programs. DeBusk said Cordell is “probably 6 feet tall,” though Tusculum’s roster lists him as 6-foot-1. Cordell said Miami of Ohio, Akron and Football Championship Subdivision schools Youngstown State and Richmond expressed interest, but none offered scholarships.
Cordell is the lone Ohioan playing for Tusculum, located about 75 miles northeast of Knoxville with an enrollment of about 2,300. Cordell said he’d never heard of Tusculum before Pioneers offensive coordinator Marc Kolb started recruiting him.
Kolb “always said you can put up great numbers in this offense, like video games,” Cordell said. “I was like, ‘We’ll see. We’ll see.’”
Kolb made a bolder forecast after Cordell began his college career.
“At the end of his freshman year, I looked at him and told him you can be the best quarterback ever to play Division II,” Kolb said. “The way he handled himself early in his career, it was very obvious what he could do.”
Cordell’s production has backed up Kolb’s predictions. He’s put up huge numbers while operating a no-huddle offense that often features sets with four or five receivers. He also has earned his business administration degree and was one of 22 players nationwide selected on the American Football Coaches Association Good Works team honoring off-field achievements.
But all those individual honors haven’t produced much team success. Tusculum’s only winning season in Cordell’s career came when the Pioneers finished 6-5 in 2010. Tusculum has split its first six games this season.
“I feel like the quarterback is usually the central reason why you won or lost, so I’m taking it pretty hard honestly,” Cordell said.
That helps explain why Cordell isn’t dwelling on the record, no matter how much he’s tempted when teammates remind him where he stands.
“I think I looked at my calculator (Sunday) to see how many (yards) I had to get to the big record, but really I haven’t been able to think about it much,” Cordell said. “Once the big one falls, I think it’s going to feel good. I think I’ll really feel good about it after the season, looking back on my career.”
It will feel even better if that record is accompanied by a few more wins.