Team preview: Toledo

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


The top football programs always have someone waiting in the wings.

Toledo Tom" Amstutz hopes that is the case once again as the Rockets begin life without Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback.

Gradkowski was the MVP of the GMAC Bowl after throwing five touchdowns to lead Toledo to a 45-13 victory, giving Amstutz an early Christmas gift with his second bowl title in five seasons.

Not to suggest the Rockets have been a one-man show. Toledo has been the 11th winningest program in Division I-A over the last five years (55-19, .743 winning percentage). But Gradkowski played a large role in that success.

As a three-year starter, Gradkowski set 19 school records and three conference marks in a league that has become a hotbed for NFL quarterbacks. Gradkowski joined Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington and Ben Roethlisberger at the next level in April as a sixth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Our new quarterback is going to have some big shoes to fill," said Amstutz, who has been down the quarterback replacement road before at UT. "This will be our fourth different starting quarterback [in his five seasons]. It helps to have patience."