BOCA RATON, Fla. - Phillip Ely had to be patient for much of his career, but now it appears to have paid off for the Toledo quarterback. Ely will provide a major test for the Temple defense when the teams meet in the Boca Raton Bowl.
This season the 6-foot-1, 202-pound native of Tampa, Fla., has completed 54.9 percent of his passes and thrown for 2,680 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in his first full season as a college starter.
With a quick release, he has been sacked just four times in 375 passing attempts this season.
Ely began his college career at Alabama, where he redshirted in 2011 and threw just four passes as a backup the next year.
He decided to transfer to Toledo, sat out 2013 according to NCAA transfer rules, and then got his big chance last year.
It lasted only two games.
Ely suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the season against Missouri. He also tore the labrum in his left shoulder in that game. So Ely had a doubly difficult path back, which makes him appreciate it more.
"Just playing is the most important part," Ely said after practice Saturday afternoon. "It was taken away from me a year ago, and it's fun to be out with my brothers, and I get to play one last game for the season."
Even though he is listed as a senior, it might not be Ely's last game with Toledo. He has petitioned the NCAA to give him a sixth year of eligibility.
Ely doesn't dwell on the missed time. In fact, he said he never questioned his choice to begin his career at Alabama.
"I don't regret my decision going there, and I don't regret my decision leaving," he said.
Toledo coach Jason Candle said the way Ely handled adversity last year indicates the type of physically and mentally tough player he is.
"He kept fighting and rehabbing and training and doing what the coaches and training staff asked him to do," Candle said. "Now you see the result of the hard work with the season he has had."