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2022 American Athletic Conference Quarterback Rankings

Clayton Tune, Houston Cougars Football

The American Athletic Conference returns nearly all of its starting signal-callers from last season, as 10 of the league's teams are set to feature a returning starter at quarterback for the 2022 college football season. Houston's Clayton Tune and SMU's Tanner Mordecai headline the first tier in the quarterback rankings, followed by Tulane's Michael Pratt, East Carolina's Holton Ahlers and Memphis' Seth Henigan. Replacing Desmond Ridder won't be easy for Cincinnati, but Evan Prater and Ben Bryant are two capable options for coach Luke Fickell.

Ranking the quarterbacks by conference or nationally is no easy task. To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2022. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors — pure talent, supporting cast, having a clear hold on the No. 1 position, previous production, 2022 projection, and scheme changes (just to name a few) — were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the American Athletic Conference for 2022.

Ranking the American Athletic Conference Quarterbacks for 2022

11. D'Wan Mathis, Temple
Mathis transferred from Georgia to Temple prior to the 2021 college football season, and as expected, the former four-star prospect earned the starting job out of fall practice. However, the Michigan native was hit by bad luck last year. Mathis was injured in the opener against Rutgers and was forced to miss the next two contests before returning in late September. He pieced together strong performances by throwing a combined five touchdowns against Wagner and Memphis but tossed only one over his next four before missing the last three games due to injury. Mathis ended '21 with 1,223 yards and six touchdowns to four picks through the air and averaged only 6.2 yards per attempt. Talent certainly isn't an issue for Mathis, so it's up to new coach Stan Drayton to help the sophomore take a step forward in '22.

10. Tai Lavatai, Navy
Lavatai seemed to get better with each snap last season and could be poised for a breakout year in 2022. After edging out '20 starter Xavier Arline in the fall, Lavatai started the 10 contests he played in and ran for 371 yards and seven scores. He also added 449 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Another offseason to work under coach Ken Niumatalolo should help Lavatai's progression, while also helping to jump-start Navy's offense (20.1 points a game in '21).

Related: American Athletic Conference Predictions for 2022

9. John Rhys Plumlee, UCF
Plumlee isn't guaranteed the job yet, as he has to hold off Mikey Keene in fall practice. But if Plumlee manages to win the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, the Ole Miss transfer would be an excellent fit for coach Gus Malzahn's offense. The Mississippi native started eight games as a freshman in '19, ran for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns (a school record for a freshman), and threw for 910 yards and four scores over 150 attempts. Plumlee lost the starting job to Matt Corral in '20 but played in 20 games over the last two years and spent some time at receiver (19 catches in '21). The only full season of quarterback snaps shows Plumlee's arm (52.7 percent and 6.1 yards per attempt) has room to improve. However, his mobility would be a huge asset in this offense.

8. Gerry Bohanon, USF
Timmy McClain showed promise in 11 games for USF last season, but coach Jeff Scott needed to add depth, talent and competition to the roster, and a proven quarterback like Bohanon is hard to pass up in the portal. The Arkansas native played in 15 games for Baylor as a backup from 2018-20 before claiming the starting job in '21. Bohanon provided steady play under center for the Bears, throwing for 2,194 yards and 18 scores through the air and adding 323 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He also added 11 completions of 40-plus yards. Bohanon's dual-threat ability should be a good fit for Scott and coordinator Travis Trickett's offense, but he has some catching up to do after arriving in Tampa after spring practice. 

Related: College Football 2022 All-America Team

7. Davis Brin, Tulsa
Expectations were high for Brin in 2021 after an impressive showing against Tulane (18 of 28 for 266 yards and two touchdowns) in '20. The Texas native had to navigate a few ups and downs in his starting debut, but Brin still finished the year with 3,254 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. Included in those totals were 428 yards at Ohio State, along with 285 yards in the 30-17 bowl win over Old Dominion. Also, Brin's 12 completions of 40-plus yards ranked near the top of the AAC. A retooled offensive line will present a challenge for Brin's hopes of exceeding last year's production in '22, but he also has to cut down on the mistakes (16 picks over 411 attempts).

6. Ben Bryant/Evan Prater, Cincinnati
If Bryant or Prater wins the job and starts every game, it's safe to assume this placement might be too low. Although a starter wasn't named after spring ball, that's not a sign of concern by any means for coach Luke Fickell. Both Bryant and Prater are capable quarterbacks to direct Cincinnati's offense and fill the void left behind by Desmond Ridder. Bryant started his career at Cincinnati and played in 16 games (with one start) from 2018-20. He departed Cincinnati to be Eastern Michigan's quarterback in '21 and threw for 3,121 yards and 14 touchdowns over 279 completions in 13 appearances. Prater - the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 signing class - worked as the backup to Ridder last fall and completed five passes for 38 yards and two touchdowns and added 105 yards on the ground in limited snaps. Prater brings more mobility to the offense, while Bryant is certainly more experienced and polished as a passer at this point of his career. Regardless of which quarterback starts, the Bearcats should be fine on offense this fall. 

Related: Ranking All 131 College Football Teams for 2021

5. Holton Ahlers, East Carolina
An improved ground game, along with the steady and solid play of Ahlers, helped lift East Carolina to its first winning season since 2014 last fall. The North Carolina native is back for his fourth season as the starter (and fifth on campus) and enters '22 with 10,219 career yards and 69 touchdowns through the air and 1,264 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. 

4. Seth Henigan, Memphis
After a prolific career, Brady White left big shoes to fill at Memphis last year. However, it didn't take long for coach Ryan Silverfield and staff to find the next star under center. Henigan - a true freshman from Texas - emerged as the team's starter in the fall and started 11 games for the Tigers. Henigan showed poise (59.8 percent) and posted five efforts of 300-plus passing yards to finish with 3,322 yards and 25 touchdown passes for the season. The Texas native tossed only eight picks over 393 attempts and finished second among AAC signal-callers with 14 completions of 40-plus yards and yards per attempt (8.5). Henigan will have a new play-caller (Tim Cramsey) and won't have Calvin Austin III to throw to this year, but another step forward should be expected.

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2022-23

3. Michael Pratt, Tulane
Despite a nagging shoulder injury and a leaky offensive line, Pratt still managed to turn in a solid all-around year for the Green Wave. In 11 appearances, the Florida native threw for 2,381 yards and 21 touchdowns to only eight picks. Those numbers were a slight uptick on his freshman totals (1,806 yards and 20 TDs), but the completion percentage and big plays saw an uptick in '21. Pratt led all AAC quarterbacks with 15 completions of 40-plus yards and added another 152 yards and five scores on the ground. The sophomore has a new coordinator (Jim Svoboda) and is one of eight returning starters on what should be an improved Tulane offense in '22.

2. Tanner Mordecai, SMU
Mordecai has to hold off a charge from redshirt freshman Preston Stone this fall, but the Oklahoma transfer should once again rank among the top Group of 5 signal-callers. In 12 appearances last year, Mordecai threw for 3,628 yards and 39 touchdowns and added 202 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. The Texas native started his SMU career with a seven-touchdown performance against FCS Abilene Christian and later threw for four scores in a victory at TCU. Also, Mordecai tossed three touchdowns and 377 yards in a 55-28 win over UCF. Mordecai's completion percentage (67.8) ranked second among qualified AAC signal-callers. Although Sonny Dykes left to be the head coach at TCU, there should be a seamless transition for Mordecai and the SMU offense with Rhett Lashlee (offensive coordinator at SMU from (2018-19) taking over.

Related: Ranking All 131 College Football Teams for 2021

1. Clayton Tune, Houston
Tune made a considerable jump in production from 2020 to '21 and is poised for another step forward at the controls of Houston's high-powered offense this year. The Texas native threw for 3,546 yards and 30 touchdowns to only 10 picks on 420 attempts in '21. Those totals were a significant uptick from the 2,048 passing yards and 15 scores he delivered in Houston's eight-game '20 season. Tune also chipped in 154 yards and two touchdowns on the ground last year. Additionally, the senior ranked second in the AAC in quarterback rating (158.1), third in yards per attempt (8.4), and first in completion percentage (68.3).

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