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Published: 12/19/2004

MAC snub of BG receivers irks QB

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Charles Sharon, Cole Magner and Steve Sanders combined for 177 catches, 2,492 yards and 25 TDs for Bowling Green. Charles Sharon, Cole Magner and Steve Sanders combined for 177 catches, 2,492 yards and 25 TDs for Bowling Green.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green quarterback Omar Jacobs said he was disappointed in the choices that the Mid-American Conference coaches made in selecting the all-league team - and it had nothing to do with him.

Jacobs was named All-MAC first team, so he was covered. Jacobs was troubled because not one of the wide receivers he has thrown to this season was honored.

"I have [one of] the leading touchdown receivers in the MAC [Charles Sharon], and Cole Magner has been decent his whole career here," Jacobs said. "I thought the All-MAC team was ridiculous. I don't know how you have the best receiving corps in the MAC and you don't have one receiver represented - not even honorable mention."

It's not as if the Falcons didn't have worthy choices. Magner caught a team-leading 68 passes for 678 yards and six touchdowns; Sharon made 61 grabs for a team-best 953 yards and 13 TDs, tied for second in the league, and Steve Sanders added 48 catches for 861 yards and six more scores.

BG coach Gregg Brandon said the snub was caused by playing in a system in which more than one person is in the spotlight.

"In our system, we don't feature a guy," Brandon said. "So a guy's not going to be, quote-unquote, All-MAC. Does that mean he's not as good as an All-MAC guy? Nope."

Magner probably is the best-known of the three, primarily because he has had an impact on the program since his arrival as a freshman in 2001. He ran, threw and caught the ball during his first two seasons, giving the Falcon offense a diversity that drove opponents crazy.

He focused on receiving last season and had a breakout year, catching a school-record 99 passes for 1,138 yards and 10 touchdowns - numbers still not good enough to gain even all-league honorable mention. Magner's 7.1 receptions per game ranked seventh in Division I-A, and his yardage total made him just the second BG player to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards in a season.

"I think I've become a better football player every year," Magner said. "But my role is the same as it has always been: Get open and catch the ball. If it's third down, or if I have to go across the middle, or if I have to take a big hit, that's my job."

This season injuries caused Magner to get off to a slow start. He sprained his left ankle two weeks before the opener at Oklahoma, then broke his right foot a week later, although he still played against the Sooners. Midway through the season he sprained his left elbow.

But Magner played through the setbacks, catching 12 passes against Northern Illinois and posting 113 receiving yards against Central Michigan and Toledo.

Jacobs said Magner, one of the Falcons' four captains, is valuable for more than just his ability to catch passes.

Jacobs calls Magner "a smart football player. In certain pressure situations a player may buckle and not do what's normal, but Cole is always cool. We're always on the same page."

Sharon, a junior, has shown steady improvement since his freshman season, when he caught 33 passes for 465 yards and three TDs. A native of Palatka, Fla., Sharon made 59 catches for 887 yards and 10 scores last season, including several highlight-reel catches.

He caught the game-winning pass in Bowling Green's upset of nationally ranked Purdue, and his three TD receptions helped the Falcons beat Toledo and win the MAC West Division crown.

This season his 61 catches in 11 games include at least one touchdown grab in nine games, including each of the last six.

"Chuck is like Gumby," Jacobs said. "He just throws his body around and catches balls. He's smart too, but the things he does with his body he's tough, takes hits."

Brandon said Sharon gives BG a great deep threat that opens things up for everyone.

"He has great ball skills," Brandon said of Sharon. "And he can run. He can run away from some guys."

Sharon, who also is a threat on special teams, with 22 punt returns for 282 yards and another TD, said putting up big numbers isn't what motivates him.

"I don't play for myself; I play for the team. If the team is happy with my performance, then I'm happy with my performance."

After catching just two passes in eight games as a freshman in 2002, Sanders began to blossom the next year. He caught 43 passes for 466 yards, including 16 receptions in the Falcons' final four games.

This year Sanders quickly provided a third threat when teams began keying on Magner and Sharon. He had four games with more than 100 receiving yards, and he caught three TD passes in BG's win at Central Michigan.

"Steve is like Keyshaun [Johnson]," Jacobs said of the NFL star. "He's a big body going across the middle. Coming into the season people were keying on Chuck and Cole, but he made plays that made it harder for defenses to focus on Chuck and Cole."

Sanders, from Cleveland, said his style is a cross between those of Magner and Sharon.

"I'm a possession-slash-physical receiver," Sanders said. "I like to play in between the seams, but I also like to get man coverage and go deep. I can do a lot of different things, so I don't want to limit myself to being called one thing."

Sanders said he didn't come into the season with goals about catches or yards or touchdowns.

"You always want to play better than you did the year before. So I came into this season just trying to get better and trying to make the team better."

All three made the Falcon offense go. But none of the three has let the All-MAC snub affect them negatively.

"I was surprised Chuck wasn't on it," Magner said, then added: "After I didn't get it last year, I wasn't surprised I didn't get it this year."

Sharon echoed that thought when he said, "Last season, when Cole put up great numbers, he wasn't recognized as an All-MAC receiver. So it [this year] didn't surprise me. We had talked about it as a group and we were expecting it."

Sanders said honors don't motivate BG's wide receivers.

"As a receiving corps, we don't play for awards. We play to try and make the team better. If awards come our way, that's great. If they don't, so be it; that gives us something to work for next year."

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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