With summer workouts underway and fall practice right aroud the corner for all 130 college football teams, it's never too early to evaluate how every program looks at quarterback for the 2019 season. The FBS level is loaded with talent at this position for the upcoming year, as Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence are neck-and-neck for the No. 1 spot in this ranking. The depth continues with the return of Texas' Sam Ehlinger, Georgia's Jake Fromm, Oregon's Justin Herbert and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts.
The American Athletic Conference has experienced its share of coaching turnover in recent years. Only four of the league's coaches - Willie Fritz, Mike Norvell, Philip Montgomery and Ken Niumatalolo - have spent the last three years at their current school. Niumatalolo takes the top spot in Athlon's American Athletic Conference coach rankings for 2019, but the gap has closed to Norvell, Fritz and new Houston coach Dana Holgorsen. The AAC boasts a strong second tier with Cincinnati's Luke Fickell and UCF's Josh Heupel rounding out the league's top six coaches.
Memphis is the two-time defending champ of the American Athletic Conference's West Division, but not only has to replace one of the nation's most productive running backs but Mike Norvell also is basically breaking in a brand-new coaching staff.
The American Athletic Conference ranks as the best league in the Group of 5, and it’s no surprise a couple of familiar faces - UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati and Houston - lead the way in the 2019 predictions. The Knights are 25-1 over the last two seasons and are Athlon’s pick to win the AAC and finish this year ranked as the highest team among Group of 5 conference champions. UCF will be pushed by Cincinnati in the East Division. Memphis and Houston are projected to have a tight battle atop the West, with Tulane and SMU in the next tier.
The 2019 college football season officially begins on Saturday, Aug. 24, but it's never too early to start thinking about what might transpire this fall. Each FBS season brings plenty of surprises, disappointments and unexpected teams emerging in the national title picture. However, two teams - Clemson and Alabama - are a step ahead of the rest of the college football world and are poised for a rematch in the national championship game.
The 2019 American Athletic All-Conference team is anchored by 13 selections from UCF and Cincinnati, followed by USF at 12 and Houston, Memphis and Temple with 11. SMU, Tulsa and Tulane headline the next tier with nine selections apiece on the 2019 All-AAC squad.
An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2019. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2019 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.
Debating the best job among all 130 college football teams or within any conference is always an ongoing discussion. The debate doesn’t start with a small sample size but should take into account more of a long-term (both past and future) in order to get a better snapshot of the program. Every college football program is unique and has its own set of challenges. But some programs are clearly better than others.
The American Athletic Conference features a deep group of quarterbacks for the 2019 season. Houston’s D’Eriq King is the league’s No. 1 signal-caller and ranks among the best in college football. Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder and Memphis’ Brady White headline the next tier, with transfers Brandon Wimbush (UCF) and Shane Buechele (SMU) looking to make an impact at their new school in 2019. The league’s depth extends to Temple’s Anthony Russo, Navy’s Malcolm Perry and Tulane’s Justin McMillan.
Finding or developing a quarterback is no easy task for any college football coach. This position is one of the hardest to evaluate in high school, and as evidenced by the recent wave of departures, quarterbacks often transfer early in their career in search of more playing time. While developing a quarterback through the high school ranks is the preferred option for coaches, the junior college level presents quick-fix options and players who were often overlooked in the recruiting process.