As the starting quarterback of the nation’s top-ranked FCS team, Jeremiah Briscoe finds most of his time is dedicated to football.
Sam Houston State’s 6-3, 220-pound redshirt junior does manage to occasionally enjoy some time away from the game, often in the great outdoors or relaxing at home.
“If I’m not throwing a football I’m probably shooting something,” said the 23-year-old native of Houston. “I love hunting and fishing and playing golf and just being outside and as active as I can.
“If I’m not outside or playing football, I’m probably home asleep. People call me ‘Dad’ and ‘Grandpa’ because I’m one of the oldest guys on the team. Anytime it’s around 8:30 at night my roommate jokes it’s my bedtime.”
Briscoe, a transfer from UAB, has played like an old pro in his first season as a full-time starter and team captain. The Bearkats (6-0, 5-0 Southland Conference) enter Saturday’s game on ASN against conference foe Nicholls (3-3, 3-1) as the FCS leader in scoring at 54.8 points per game and total offense at 608.2 yards per game and No. 2 in passing (363 ypg).
Briscoe leads the FCS in touchdown passes (26) and passing efficiency (187.1 rating) and ranks second in passing (346.7 ypg) and third in total offense (348.3 ypg) while throwing only four interceptions.
Last week he shook off two early interceptions to pass for 404 yards and six TDs in a 48-21 win over Abilene Christian. The win helped Sam Houston move up to No. 1 in the STATS FCS Top 25 and FCS Coaches Poll.
The Bearkats were also No. 1 briefly last season and they have reached the FCS semifinals four of the last five years, losing to Jacksonville State 62-10 last season. What’s driving the Bearkats is winning their first NCAA national championship.
“It’s definitely something we’ve strived for, but being ranked No. 1 is just a nice part of the journey and not the destination,” Briscoe said. “Being No. 1 in October is great but doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s something that I think will help push us.”
Briscoe is quick to praise his offensive line, which has allowed only two sacks this season. He’s also surrounded by a plethora of playmakers, including running backs Corey Avery and Remus Bulmer and receiver Yedidiah Louis.
“I didn’t even know all those numbers from last week, but that’s just the nature of where we are offensively,” said Briscoe, who passed for a school-record seven TDs two weeks ago in a blowout of Stephen F. Austin. “Our offensive line has played unbelievable, and I think we have the best skill guys in the country. My job is to get them the ball in space and let them make things happen and not mess anything up.”
Briscoe joined the Bearkats after a messy situation unfolded at UAB, which dropped football after the 2014 season (the school will play again next fall). That season, as a redshirt freshman, he passed for 361 yards and three TDs in six games. Despite being bowl-eligible for the first time in 10 years, the 6-6 Blazers were not invited to play in a bowl game.
“It was crazy,” Briscoe said. “We won the last game of the regular season at Southern Miss to become bowl-eligible for the first time in 10 years and thought there was no way they’d drop football. Then a week before finals we found out about the same time everybody else did that they were shutting down the program. It was intense and changed a lot of people’s lives.”
Several programs — namely Florida, Western Kentucky and North Texas — reached out to Briscoe after UAB decided to drop football. By early January, he was ready to return home and play for Sam Houston.
Briscoe originally committed to Baylor while playing behind Texas-bound quarterback Connor Wood at Second Baptist in Houston. He passed for 23 TDs as a junior before transferring to play for Andrew Luck’s prep coach at Stratford High, where the nation’s No. 18 Class of 2012 quarterback flipped his commitment to Arkansas.
Briscoe eventually reunited with former Razorbacks assistants Garrick McGee and Richard Owens in January 2013 at UAB, where he planned to play football and baseball. He gave up baseball after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2013.
“The benefit of having been recruited before meant I knew the things that were important to me,” Briscoe said. “I wanted to be closer to home — living in Alabama I only came home twice a year—and I wanted to find a program with the goal of winning championships and a coaching staff that fit my skill set. Sam Houston State was a no-brainer for me because it was a perfect fit.”
Last season Briscoe passed for 1,883 yards and 14 TDs while sharing reps with Jared Johnson, who was the 2015 Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year as the 11-4 Bearkats advanced to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs. Briscoe finished strong, passing for 1,012 yards and eight TDs in Sam Houston’s four postseason games.
The experience Briscoe gained last season while splitting time with Johnson, who transferred to UTSA in the offseason, has paid off in a big way this year.
“Jeremiah has really blossomed as a quarterback, and his leadership skills are special,” Bearkats head coach K.C. Keeler said two weeks ago after the win over SFA. “It’s been powerful to see him take this team over.”
Now the quarterback who likes to hunt and fish might help the Bearkats bag their first FCS championship.