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Tanney breaks record

Lexington grad Alex Tanney set the NCAA career TD passes mark, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. (For The Pantagraph)

BLOOMINGTON -- When Alex Tanney suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during Monmouth College's second game a year ago the record-setting quarterback didn't know how to react.

"It was really frustrating. You take the game granted. I had never been hurt," said Tanney, a Lexington High School graduate. "I've played since about third grade and never missed a game. It was tough to process. You put all the work in during the offseason and you're not able to play."

Tanney decided to seek a medical redshirt and come back for a fifth season.

The frustration has turned on opposing defenses.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tanney has put his name in the NCAA record book and gotten the attention of NFL scouts. Tanney has set the NCAA all-division career record with 154 touchdown passes and Division III career mark with 13,686 passing yards in leading Monmouth (9-1) to another Midwest Conference championship.

Tanney's efforts have earned a "home game" for his parents, Don and Crystal. Illinois Wesleyan will entertain Monmouth at noon Saturday in an NCAA Division III first-round playoff game between 9-1 squads at IWU's Tucci Stadium.

Don Tanney retired as Lexington's coach after Alex's senior season in 2006. The Tanneys now live in Normal.

"It will be nice to get back in that area," said Alex Tanney. "We live just 10-15 minutes away (from IWU) now. I know a lot of kids who go there. Growing up in that area I definitely followed them. I'm definitely excited about it."

Tanney has come back stronger than ever from a torn AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder. He has completed 230 of 315 attempts for 3,304 yards with 35 TDs and seven interceptions. Monmouth leads Division III with 49.3 points and 556.7 yards per game.

After spending his first two years at Monmouth playing football and basketball, Tanney decided it was time to devote all his energy to one sport. His father was a standout basketball player at Monmouth in the late 1970s, while brother Mitch was the Fighting Scots' quarterback from 2002-05.

"That was a tough decision," said Alex Tanney. "Basketball was my first love growing up being a little kid and playing all the time. At that point I was starting to have people (scouts) contact me about playing after college. It crossed my mind I needed to devote time in the offseason to getting better on the football field, and I think it paid off."

After leading Monmouth to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009, Tanney is savoring the third opportunity.

"It's just a little different because we have a different core group of guys," said Tanney, who earned the Melberger Award in 2009 as Division III's top player. "On the other conference championship teams we had played together for three or four years. We had a lot of young guys step in and gained experience last year. They worked their tails off in the offseason and summer, and it paid off this year."

Apparently, a lot of NFL scouts have spent time on the Fighting Scots' field studying Tanney.

"There's been about 25-26 teams that have been through here in the fall," he said. "I'm waiting to get an invitation hopefully to one of the bigger all-star games. Once that happens hopefully I'll get an invite to the (NFL) combine and go from there."

Tanney is not only well known by NFL scouts, but YouTube fans everywhere. The "Alex Tanney Trick Shot Quarterback Video," filmed by Tanney's friends earlier this year, has drawn over one million hits.

There could be a Tanney Fan Club meeting Saturday. Both his brothers, Matt (who is a director of compliance at the University of Oklahoma) and Mitch, will be there along with his parents and several friends from up north.

"I've had quite a few people get hold of me I haven't talked to in a while and say they're going to the game. Hopefully there will be a good crowd from Lexington there," said Alex Tanney.

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