Texas A&M Football: Is Zach Calzada the toughest player in college football?

Zach Calzada, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Calzada, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /
Texas A&M football
Zach Calzada, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

There are a lot of words that could have been used to describe the Texas A&M football team’s starting quarterback in Zach Calzada prior to his game against Alabama — underwhelming, disappointing… heck, some would even call him a bad quarterback.

For Calzada, he disproved all of these things with one of the greatest single-game performances by any quarterback in college football history. It sounds like an exaggeration, but once I’m done with this article, it’ll be hard to disprove the fact that this may be the single most impressive performance of all time.

Texas A&M football QB Zach Calzada had the gutsiest performance college football has seen in years

Coming into this game, Calzada may have been considered the worst starting Power Five quarterback in the country. That’s not really an exaggeration, either — Calzada was playing terrible football.

Sure, he was given tough circumstances, with one of his starting offensive linemen out for the year and a handful of injuries at the receiver spot, including an injured Caleb Chapman, his primary deep threat.

This left Calzada as a quarterback who led his team to an offensive average of 14 points per game to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide, who hadn’t lost a game in their last 19 contests. Heck, they hadn’t even trailed a game since early in the 2020-21 season.

Calzada, to pile on with the ugly statistics, had thrown just two touchdowns and three interceptions against Power Five opponents, completing well under 60% of his passes. Fans were angry and the team was losing, dropping their second straight game to Mississippi State the week prior.

In the previous three games, Calzada had been sacked nine times. The offensive line play had been terrible and the Cuban Missile was the one standing in the pocket taking hits each game. ‘Bama was destined to be even worse.

Calzada didn’t care. The Aggie quarterback played the best game of the season, completing nearly 70% of his passes against a menacing Alabama defense. He was sharp all night long. While previous games saw him struggle to even get the ball out of his hands, the Aggies’ contest against the Tide made him look like a Heisman-contending quarterback.

He wasn’t sacked a single time.

The mental toughness that it took for Calzada to have that level of confidence in a game that seemed like a lost cause was on full display. But that’s not the only kind of toughness that was displayed.

In the fourth quarter, Calzada, under heavy pressure, dropped a perfect dime to Ainias Smith to tie the game up at 38 points. Immediately after releasing the ball, Calzada took a shot that bent his knee backward — the most painful thing imaginable for a quarterback. Immediately after, he couldn’t walk on his own, carried off of the field with help from two training staff members.

In the next series, he returned to the game.

Next. 2 surprising potential scenarios for Haynes King's return. dark

I’m not saying Calzada is going to be a Heisman contender or lead the Aggies to a National Championship, but he has earned the honor of being the toughest player in college football over anybody else in the game. He has certainly made the Aggies’ quarterback situation more interesting.