Posted on October 3, 2020
Nothing beats rooting for an underdog, or as a Former Super Bowl MVP likes to call them, “Hungry Dogs.”
The author of that saying, Nick Foles, has lived a true underdog story.
He played for Michigan State as a backup before transferring to Arizona, where he redshirted his first year in Tucson. In his second season, Foles competed with Matt Scott for the starting job, and was beat out, settling for the role of backup quarterback for the Wildcats.
When he finally got his opportunity, winning the starting job in his third year, as a redshirt-junior, he passed for nearly 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns, logging nine interceptions in 12 games.
In his last two seasons as a Wildcat, Foles passed for more than 7,500 yards and another 48 touchdowns, leading the Pac-12 in passing yards per game in his senior season.
That wasn’t enough to prove his doubters wrong as the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the third round of the 2012 draft. And for the next five years, he struggled and was traded to the Rams and Chiefs before returning to Philly.
That’s where his story, which began as a three-star recruit, became the stuff of dreams, propelling him to unlikely stardom as a Super Bowl MVP. Think about that.
Foles received offers from only two Power Five conference teams out of high school, proving that it isn’t always about being flashing and famous out of high school. Putting in the work and wanting it more than the next guy still counts for something.
In a previous column, I wrote about Kevin Sumlin needing to recruit more four-star prospects to get over the hump. Short of that, the only way he’s going to turn the Arizona program around is by developing mid-level three-star recruits into quality players.
It goes both ways. Highly rated players recruited by the top schools in the country don’t always pan out. In fact, they often end up being busts. Three-star recruits fail more often, but when they make it, it’s special.
Foles is special in another way. Despite his success and celebrity, he remains relatable.
After quarterbacking the Eagles to their Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots, and out-playing Tom Brady, in 2017, he felt moved to relate his story to his supporters.
“Failure is a part of life,” he said after accepting the MVP Trophy. “It’s a part of building character and growing. Without failure, who would you be? I wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t fallen thousands of times, made mistakes. We all are human; we all have weaknesses.”
Even at the pinnacle of his career, he took the time to remind us what he went through in hard times to make it, knowing his story would inspire others who have struggled, and continue to do so.
Everyone’s path in life is different, and none is perfect. It’s how we deal with our hardships, and overcome them, that determines our happiness.
Despite his success with the Eagles, Foles had to overcome adversity again after being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In his first game he broke his clavicle. And when he returned from injury, he started just one game before getting benched in favor of former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew.
In the offseason, Foles was traded again, this time to the Chicago Bears, for basically nothing (the Jags wanted to get his salary off the books). But challenges followed. After competing in training camp with former No. 2 overall NFL Draft pick Mitchell Trubisky, Foles lost the starting job yet again.
But Foles continued to work hard. He prepared and stayed ready, knowing his number could be called at anytime.
Last week it was.
Down 16 points midway through the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons, Bears coach Matt Nagy finally pulled the trigger, putting Foles in the game.
He started off slow, but his last three drives showed flashes of the quarterback that once made him the Pac-12’s leading passer and a Super Bowl champion.
They came like lightning flashes, as Foles brought Chicago back from a two-score deficit, engineering a thrilling 30-26 victory.
Will it be enough? When are coaches and general managers going to stop overlooking and underestimating the former three-star? If he keeps this up and leads the Bears to the playoffs the answer just might be right around the corner.
Arizona Football doesn’t have a great history of winning over the last 25 years, but it has produced some pretty special alumni.
One in particular, who thrives on being a “Hungry Dog,” and for whom it’s not just a saying, but a mindset built into his DNA, stands out. Not everyone is blessed with five-star talent, but everyone can work hard and prove people wrong.
Just ask Nick Foles.
—Recent Ryan Wohl Stories—
- Wohl: Future of Arizona Football in Grant Gunnell’s Hands
- Wohl: Game-by-Game Look at Arizona’s 2020 Football Schedule with Predictions
- Wohl: Mediocre Football Recruiting Keeping Wildcats from Getting over Hump
Wohl: Future of Arizona Football in Grant Gunnell’s HandsIn three starts last season, the former 4-star demonstrated the poise coaches want in a leader - October 24, 2020
Wohl: Game-by-Game Look at Arizona’s 2020 Football Schedule with PredictionsThe Wildcats may not win more than a couple of games in this shortened season - October 17, 2020
Wohl: Former Wildcat and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles Still Living the DreamThe Bears quarterback showed he still has the magic touch in his comeback win over the Falcons - October 3, 2020