Kellogg III: The Return of the Fat College QB
By Jim Weber
Just when it appeared that the days of the fat college quarterback were over and I would be resigned to telling stories about them “back in my day,” a burly vision appeared on Saturday in the form of third-string Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg III.
If you are like me, you flipped over to the last couple minutes of the thrilling Northwestern-Nebraska game on that fateful afternoon and immediately thought to yourself, “Who’s the fat guy at quarterback with his belly hanging out? It’s glorious….” Judging by the comments on Twitter, there were plenty of you in the same boat.
Moments later, the third-string former walk-on senior became an instant legend in Lincoln.
Let me clarify that RKIII is not actually obese at 6-foot-1 and 250-plus pounds (there’s no way he’s 220 pounds as listed) considering how much muscle is on his body. Rather, he’s just far heftier than an average college quarterback and more closely resembles a lineman than a signal-caller. I don’t want to sound like a high school bully; when I call him a “fat quarterback,” I mean it endearingly.
Everything’s funnier with a “fat guy” involved. Fat guy interceptions. Fat guy touchdowns. Fat guy touchdown celebrations. But nothing compares to fat quarterbacks. There’s something just so oddly captivating and innately hilarious about seeing someone who looks like a sixth offensive lineman lining up under center and makes a football look like a nerf ball in his hands.
It was the same way with Kentucky’s Jared Lorenzen, Grambling’s Bruce Eugene and LSU’s Rohan Davey, who all became fan favorites during their playing days for their bulk. (I’ve left Marshall’s Byron Leftwich, UCF’s Daunte Culpepper and LSU’s JaMarcus Russell off this list because I consider them big college quarterbacks that packed on a lot of weight in the NFL.)
In the Golden Age of Fat Quarterbacks in the 2000s, people tuned in to watch these guys play because they weren’t just great players. They also flew in direct contrast to the quarterback prototype the NFL craved that were seemingly created in test tubes, like Peyton Manning.
Lorenzen in particular became a cult hero with nicknames like “The Hefty Lefty,” “The Pillsbury Throwboy,” “The Fat Cat” and “Qbese,” as college football fans followed his career through the NFL - when he was relegated to being a quarterback-sneak specialist - to semi-pro football, when a picture of Lorenzen looking even more massive than in college went viral on the internet a couple years ago (right).
But it sadly appeared that fat quarterbacks were extinct from college football with the recent proliferation of spread offenses and duel-threat quarterbacks; Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, for example, runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and looks like a decathlete.
And then Ron Kellogg III stepped onto the Memorial Stadium field in Lincoln on Saturday with 1:20 left on the clock and the Huskers trailing 24-21. RKIII first got me out of my seat when he scrambled on 4th and 15 and found running back Ameer Abdullah in the open for a wild first down to extend the game. Just moments later, he was heaving all 250-plus pounds of himself into a Hail Mary from midfield that bounced off Wildcats defenders’ hands and landed softly into the hands of Jordan Westerkamp.
It wasn’t just a win for Nebraska; it was a victory for fat quarterbacks everywhere.
“Hail Flutie” will always be college football’s greatest and most memorable Hail Mary. But I will always cherish Kellogg’s “One Shining Moment” for the sheer serendipity of it all after he spent the past five years standing on the Cornhusker sidelines. RKIII’s reaction - chucking his helmet, running around the field like a mad man and high-fiving random fans in the stands - just made it all the sweeter.
I can only hope with Taylor Martinez still injured and redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong throwing six interceptions in his last two games, Kellogg III’s wild ride will continue with the chance of a lifetime on Saturday to start for the Cornhuskers at the Big House against Michigan.
But if that was the last college football fans see of Kellogg III and fat college quarterbacks in general for the forseeable future, we’ll always have “Hail Fatty.”