Before Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch left his hometown of Homestead, Pa., to go to school at Eastern Michigan University, he knew very little about the school or the area where he would be spending his college days.
"As I look at the experience I really had no idea growing up where Eastern Michigan was, had no idea how to spell Ypsilanti," said Batch of the Michigan city the school is located in. "All of a sudden I took a visit there my senior year in high school and I fell in love with it."
And Eastern Michigan in turn fell in love with Batch. He lettered for EMU four straight years and finished his career with school records for total offensive yards (7,715), single-season offensive yards with 3,229 in 1995 and 3,390 in 1997, career passing yards (7,592), and career touchdown passes (53).
Batch was also named first team All-Mid-American Conference in 1995 and was EMU's Most Valuable Player in 1997.
Now, he has earned another honor as he will be inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame as a part of the Class of 2009. The induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the EMU Student Center.
"It's a special honor," said Batch. "By no means did I ever envision this happening. It was really great, I loved going to Eastern Michigan. There were a lot of people there, but it was very close. I enjoyed the people there, the faculty who took me in being from out of state, five hours from home. They embraced me and brought me in to be a part of the family.
"I made a lot of good friends throughout the process. It is great to represent Eastern Michigan in the NFL."
Batch just finished his 12th NFL season, signing with the Steelers in 2002 after playing for the Detroit Lions who drafted him in the second round in 1998. Batch has played in 71 games during his NFL career, completing 819 passes for 10,050 yards and 57 touchdowns.
His successful career proves that you don't have to come from a big college in a major conference to find success at the next level, just as he and fellow quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are both products of the Mid-American Conference.
"It doesn't matter where you are at, if you can play ball the scouts will find you," said Batch. "We're living proof of that. You don't always have to go to that top school to have a chance to play in the NFL. All you need is an opportunity. If you perform well in the classroom and on the field, you will get that opportunity.
"The Mid-American Conference is represented well throughout the entire NFL. It gives them hope when they commit to go to a MAC school to say hopefully I can make it one day and that dream can be a reality."