Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006 | On Saturday at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, the oldest of the Forcier brothers – San Diego’s version of the Clausen quarterback brothers or even, dare we say, the Manning brothers – joined his younger siblings with his first playing time of the 2006 football season.

Jason Forcier, a redshirt freshman from San Diego’s St. Augustine High, made his collegiate debut as Michigan’s backup quarterback in relief of Chad Henne in the Wolverines’ rout of Central Michigan. He played the game’s final four minutes, mostly handing off but completing both pass attempts for 21 yards.

Back in San Diego the night before in St. Augustine’s season opener at Balboa Stadium, Saints senior Chris Forcier completed 15-of-24 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The UCLA-bound quarterback led San Diego’s No. 3-ranked team to a 36-14 win over Marian Catholic.

And a week earlier in Scripps Ranch High’s season opener, Tate Forcier made his varsity debut in the Falcons’ season-opening win over Orange Glen. The sophomore quarterback completed 10-of-15 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Meet the Forcier brothers, who so far are duplicating the footsteps of the better known Clausen brothers, Casey, Rick and Jimmy.

Jimmy Clausen, if you haven’t heard, was the most highly recruited quarterback in the nation from Oaks Christian High in the Los Angeles area and has committed to Notre Dame. He is considered more talented than his older brothers who played quarterback at Tennessee.

Guess what? Jason says Chris is better than him. And Jason and Chris agree Tate is better than both of them.

“I think it’s similar (to the Clausen brothers),” Jason said in July on a visit home before Michigan’s fall camp. “Jimmy had two older brothers to watch. Tate has had the opportunity to sit back and pick up things earlier than we did. He knows a lot of the dos and don’ts of playing quarterback and hopefully that will pay off.”

Their evaluation is more than just two big brothers boosting their little brother, who obviously has some hefty comparisons to live up to in his future.

“Tate has a big arm – the strongest arm of all of us,” Chris said. “He was right there with me this summer, throwing the ball 65 yards over the goal posts when we worked out at Mesa College. He could be the best. He’s learned from us and has the most knowledge.”

Two seasons ago when a Michigan assistant traveled from Ann Arbor to Brawley in the desert to scout Jason playing for St. Augustine in a CIF playoff game, he noticed a precocious kid throwing a football along the sidelines before the game.

“Hey, are you Jason’s little brother?” the Michigan assistant asked, accurately identifying Tate when he was still an eighth-grader.

(Memo to San Diego State coach Chuck Long: Although Jason picked Michigan and Chris UCLA, Jason was a regular at San Diego State games as a senior, so the brothers know what the Aztecs have to offer and you can get in on Tate if you elevate SDSU into a winner.)

Such expectations of Tate might be overwhelming for most little brothers and considered irresponsible for a writer to bring up, but Tate appears to have the love for the game, the respect for the position and the physical tools to continue chasing the brothers he looks up to.

“I have to prove myself,” Tate said. “I have to go out there and do something before I can say anything. I work hard, because I don’t have the size or speed of my brothers. I have to work twice as hard as them. Jason was 6-1 when he was my age and Chris 6-2.”

Tate is now listed as 6-1, 180 at Scripps Ranch, while Jason is 6-2, 218 in his second year at Michigan and Chris is 6-4, 180. Chris is faster than Jason, but if you think of the quickest point guard you’ve seen in basketball, Jason has that kind of quick first step.

But the Forcier brothers take an old-school approach to playing the position and don’t want to be known as run-first quarterbacks.

“I was just trying to make something happen in high school,” Jason said, “but I know I have to be more of a dropback passer in college. Chris is already a dropback passer. He’s smart enough to know when he has to take off and how to avoid hits. And Tate is the gunslinger. He likes to drop back and knows when to put up the ball. He can put it where only the receiver can catch it.”

When Chris explains his progress as a quarterback, he doesn’t mention statistics. He talks about a 23-yard touchdown pass as a junior last year he completed as time expired in 40-37 win over arch-rival Cathedral Catholic. He said it seemed like game shifted into slow motion and the crowd of 7,000 went silent.

“It was eerie,” he said. “I think I zoned out. I took that as a sign of being poised and comfortable in the pocket. I learned a lot from that.”

Comparisons of any siblings with the Manning brothers is a bit much, of course, since Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is a six-time Pro Bowler and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning led his team to the playoffs in his second season. But there are only two Manning brothers playing quarterback since the oldest brother, Cooper Manning, was a wide receiver at Mississippi.

So far, San Diego’s Forciers are keeping pace with the better-known Clausens.

Tom Shanahan is voiceofsandiego.org’s sports columnist. He is the media coordinator for the San Diego Hall of Champions. You can e-mail him at toms@sdhoc.com. Or send a letter to the editor.

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