QB Country
QB Country: Quarterback Training & Development

Zac Thomas, Tyler Johnston cap memorable seasons with Bowl victories

With Bowl season underway, we spotlight two tough, talented Alabama natives and QBC trainees who led their teams to new heights this season — earning league championships, Bowl victories and well-deserved respect across the FBS landscape.

Zac Thomas (Appalachian State)
Zac Thomas put an exclamation mark on a remarkable 2018 season, leading Appalachian State to a 45-13 victory over Middle Tennessee State in the New Orleans Bowl earlier this week. Zac earned MVP honors for the game, finishing 15 of 24 with 177 yards and three touchdowns.

A redshirt sophomore from Hewitt-Trussville High School (AL), Zac led the Mountaineers to the inaugural Sun Belt Conference championship in his first year as a starter and was named the Sun Belt’s 2018 Offensive Player of the Year. He finished the season ranked #13 among all FBS quarterbacks in Total Quarterback Rating, completing 63% of his passes for 2,039 yards, 21 TDs and just six interceptions. He also rushed for 504 yards and ten touchdowns.

Along the way, he outdueled NFL prospect Trace McSorley in the Mountaineers’ near upset in OT at Penn State, overcame a concussion injury, and helped the Mountaineers earn their first AP Top 25 ranking as an FBS program.

Former App State coach Scott Satterfield (who recently took the helm at Louisville) said earlier this season, “Zac has come a long ways over the last two years, his accuracy and arm strength, and you add that with his running ability and it just puts a lot of pressure on defenses. It starts with his competitiveness. He tries to get every yard he can get, inside he’s really competitive and I love that about him.”

Zac’s success comes as no surprise to Ben Neill, who has trained Zac at QBC Birmingham.

“He’s one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever trained, said Neill. “He holds himself to a really high standard and you can tell that by the way he carries himself on and off the field. He’s not going to rub it in anybody’s face, it is who he is. He doesn’t compete for anybody but him. To have that kind of intrinsic motivation is special. Physically, he’s gifted – he can throw it really well, and can run downhill and beat you around the edge. The RPO really suits him because he’s very athletic and processes the game quickly. He’s just a guy who does a lot of things very, very well. That’s what you want as a QB.”

Tyler Johnston (UAB)
Tyler Johnston threw for a career-high 373 yards and four touchdowns to lead UAB to a 37-13 victory over Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl. Tyler and the Blazers capped an improbable run that included UAB’s first-ever Bowl victory, a school record for victories (11), first national ranking since 2004 and first Conference-USA championship just two years removed from a complete shutdown of the program.

After taking over for injured teammate AJ Erdely in November, Tyler finished with a 5-1 record as a starter, with his only blemish coming on the road at Texas A & M. In fact, that game was Tyler’s first loss as a starter in his entire playing career — dating back to middle school. Tyler, who starred at Spanish Fort High School, was Alabama’s Mr. Football in 2015.

A redshirt freshman, Tyler proved he was ready immediately – throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 62 yards and another score in his first career start — a 52-3 victory over UTSA in Week 9. His 96.1 quarterback rating in that game ranked among the top 40 individual performances of all FBS quarterbacks in 2018.

“I don’t think any coach ever expects to put 52 points on the board,” said UAB head coach Bill Clark at the time, “To be as efficient and dynamic as he was, that’s just something in your wildest dreams that you don’t ever let yourself think. It’s better than I even hoped.”

Said QB Country founder David Morris of Tyler, “Tyler makes an impression with his competitiveness and toughness. He makes an impression with his accuracy. He wants to work. He’s always been a student of the game. He’s a guy who was very under-recruited; he might not have passed the eye test in shorts and a t-shirt coming out of high school, but he clearly was one of the best quarterbacks in the country in his class and he’s showing that now. Anyone watching the bowl game could see that. He’s tough, he’s athletic, he’s a fighter, he does it all.”