Athlon ranks all 130 starting quarterbacks for the 2018 season.
With spring practice completed for all 130 college football teams, it’s never too early to evaluate how every program looks at quarterback for the 2018 season. College football lost a handful of stars from last season, including USC’s Sam Darnold, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. However, the next group of stars is ready to emerge at the FBS level, led by Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Oregon’s Justin Herbert. However, at the top of the list for 2018 is West Virginia’s Will Grier, with Penn State's Trace McSorley and Arizona's Khalil Tate also claiming a spot in the top five.
While several teams have yet to name a starter and have a battle expected to extend deep into fall camp, Athlon Sports is taking an early look at the quarterback position by ranking every starter for 2018. This article is not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. This list could look a lot different by August, especially once some of the battles are settled at Power 5 programs. Our rankings are compiled by using many factors including career stats so far, 2017 and career statistics, having a clear hold on the No. 1 position, pro potential, changes in scheme or coaching, projection for 2018, value to the team, recruiting background and just overall talent. Think of this list as an early power ranking for 2018, with tweaks expected at the end of spring and prior to Week 1.
College Football 1-130 Starting QB Rankings for 2018
130. Kilton Anderson, Coastal Carolina
Anderson – a transfer from Fresno State and the junior college ranks – assumed the starting job for the Chanticleers for the final three games. The Florida native ended 2017 with 743 yards and seven touchdowns to three interceptions but only completed 45 percent of his passes. Freshman Bryce Carpenter will push Anderson for the starting job this offseason.
129. Jackson Tyner, Rice
Rice struggled to find consistent play out of its quarterbacks last season. Tyner, Miklo Smalls and Sam Glaesmann combined for six touchdowns to 16 interceptions, as the Owls averaged only 144.8 passing yards a game. New coach Mike Bloomgren should help Rice’s offense improve in his first year on campus, but the battle to start under center remains unsettled following the completion of spring practice. Tyner (46 of 97 for 598 yards and two scores in 2017) is the frontrunner, but Smalls (assuming he returns to the team after sitting out spring ball), Glaesmann and Vanderbilt transfer Shawn Stankavage will push for time in the fall.
128. Reid Herring, East Carolina
Gardner Minshew left East Carolina as a graduate transfer to Washington State, leaving Herring and true freshman Holton Ahlers to compete for the starting job. Herring played in two games last fall and connected on his only pass for 20 yards and a touchdown versus Cincinnati. Ahlers was considered as the No. 17 dual-threat quarterback by the 247Sports Composite in the 2018 signing class.
127. Bryce Rivers, UTSA
UTSA coach Frank Wilson has already had an interesting offseason at the quarterback position. Last year’s starter Dalton Sturm expired his eligibility, and one of the leading candidates to claim the job (Frank Harris) suffered a significant knee injury in spring ball. Additionally, junior college recruit Cordale Grundy left the spring game with a toe injury, and Wilson landed SMU graduate transfer D.J. Gillins to add to the competition. Grundy should be back to full strength in the fall, but Rivers heads into summer workouts as the favorite to start. He completed five of eight passes for 43 yards and two picks in limited work last year. True freshman JoJo Weeks is a name to watch in the fall.
126. Willie Jones, Texas State
The Bobcats have finished last in the Sun Belt in scoring offense in each of the last two seasons. Can coach Everett Withers’ group find a spark in 2018? Jones is set to take over the starting job after Damian Williams expired his eligibility, and the Texas native brings an intriguing skill set to the lineup. In limited action last year, Jones played in 10 games and completed 18 of 37 passes for 281 yards and added 168 yards on the ground. Freshmen Tyler Vitt and Jaylen Gipson will push Jones for the starting job this fall.
125. Cole McDonald, Hawaii
Dru Brown’s decision to transfer to Oklahoma State leaves a wide-open battle under center for the Rainbow Warriors. McDonald worked as Brown’s backup last fall and connected on 5 of 9 throws for 22 yards and a touchdown. He also added 138 yards and one score on 16 carries. While McDonald owns the edge in experience, incoming freshmen Jeremy Moussa and Chevan Cordeiro are two names to watch this offseason.
124. Josh Love, San Jose State
San Jose State is looking for better play out of its quarterbacks after a 2-11 record last year. Montel Aaron led the team with 1,531 passing yards and eight scores through the air, but Josh Love (928 yards) also received extended snaps. This duo is in the mix for the starting job again this offseason, along with redshirt freshman Terrell Carter. Any of these three quarterbacks could start in 2018.
123. Nick Jeanty, New Mexico State
Following a historic 2017 season, New Mexico State must replace a couple of key contributors from its offense, including running back Larry Rose, receiver Jaleel Scott and quarterback Tyler Rogers. Jeanty is the favorite to replace Rogers under center, as the senior has five previous starts under his belt. In three appearances (and one start) last year, Jeanty threw for 389 yards and a touchdown to four picks. He also rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries. Jeanty brings more mobility to the offense than Rogers, but he’s also not as polished as a passer.
122. Ryan Metz, UTEP
The Miners averaged only 11.8 points a game last season, so new coach Dana Dimel will have his hands full with this group in 2018. The cupboard isn’t completely bare for the new staff, as Metz and junior college recruit Kai Locksley are two interesting options under center. Metz threw for 637 yards and three touchdowns to six picks last year, but his numbers were better in 2016 (1,375 yards and 14 touchdowns to four interceptions).
121. Woody Barrett, Kent State
Barrett was the biggest catch in new coach Sean Lewis’ first recruiting haul. The Florida native signed with Auburn as a four-star recruit in the 2016 signing class and used a redshirt year in his first season on campus. Barrett transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in 2017 and threw for 1,294 yards and eight scores and added 485 yards and six touchdowns on the ground last year. Barrett has a lot of raw talent but must increase his efficiency in the passing game after completing only 49.8 percent of throws in 2017.
120. Tyler Vander Waal, Wyoming
Josh Allen leaves big shoes to fill in Laramie this offseason. Nick Smith began the offseason as the favorite due to his experience as Allen’s backup, but Vander Waal closed the gap and eventually took the No. 1 spot on the post-spring depth chart. The former three-star prospect took a redshirt year last fall and finished the spring by completing 15 of 23 passes for 129 yards in the Gold vs. Brown game.
119. Cephus Johnson, South Alabama
With Dallas Davis leaving the program as a graduate transfer, all signs point to Johnson edging Cole Garvin and Evan Orth for the starting job this year. Johnson used a redshirt year last fall and performed well in South Alabama’s spring game under new coach Steve Campbell, connecting on 9 of 12 throws for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The Mobile native’s mobility should be a good fit for Campbell’s up-tempo attack.
118. Dan Ellington, Georgia State
Georgia State’s quarterback battle to replace Conner Manning will extend into fall practice. Senior Jaquez Parks, redshirt freshman Jack Walker, junior Aaron Winchester and Ellington – a junior college recruit – remain in the mix. Ellington arrives in Atlanta with impressive credentials. The Mississippi native threw for 3,211 yards and 27 scores at Itawamba Community College last fall, earning NJCAA second-team All-America honors. If Ellington wins the job, he should move up this list by a few spots, especially with top target Penny Hart back on the outside.
117. Drew Eckels, WKU
Finding a replacement for Mike White is the top offseason priority for WKU coach Mike Sanford. Of course, replacing one of Conference USA’s top quarterbacks over the last two seasons isn’t going to be easy. Eckels worked as White’s backup over the last two years and completed 14 of 23 throws for 204 yards and two scores. Incoming freshman Kevaris Thomas is an intriguing player to watch in fall practice.
116. Cam Thomas, Illinois
After finishing last in the Big Ten by averaging 13.1 points in league games last fall, Illinois coach Lovie Smith decided a change was needed on offense. Former Arizona co-offensive coordinator Rod Smith was hired to call plays and solidifying the quarterback spot is the top priority this offseason. The Fighting Illini will have options to choose from under center, as A.J. Bush is set to join the team as a graduate transfer, and Lovie Smith added three quarterbacks in the freshman class. But for now, the edge to start in 2018 goes to Thomas. As a true freshman last fall, he completed 28 of 66 throws for 375 yards and five picks but rushed for 233 yards and a touchdown. Thomas should benefit from a full offseason to develop with the No. 1 offense.
115. Tevaka Tuioti, New Mexico
After utilizing the option under former coordinator Bob DeBesse, new coordinator Calvin Magee is moving the Lobos to more of a spread attack in 2018. And the former Arizona coordinator has three candidates vying for the starting job, with Tuioti holding an edge in experience over Coltin Gerhart and junior college transfer Sheriron Jones. Tuioti connected on 57 of 118 passes for 705 yards and four touchdowns to six interceptions last fall. He also added 142 rushing yards and a score. Jones – a former Tennessee quarterback – spent 2017 at Mt. San Jacinto and threw for 2,162 yards and 17 touchdowns. His progress is worth monitoring in the fall.
114. Tony Poljan, Central Michigan
In addition to working as the backup to Shane Morris last fall, Poljan took a few snaps at receiver and caught five passes for 97 yards. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is back under center for 2018 and is the favorite to replace Morris. Poljan completed 13 of 21 passes for 78 yards and rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown last season.
113. Tyler Wiegers, Eastern Michigan
Brogan Roback finished second in program history in career passing yards (8,653), leaving a big void under center for coach Chris Creighton. Wiegers is the favorite to replace Roback after joining the team as a graduate transfer from Iowa. The Michigan native ranked as a three-star prospect coming out of high school and played in six games with the Hawkeyes. During his limited playing time with Iowa, Wiegers completed four of six passes for 35 yards and a touchdown.
112. David Pindell, UConn
UConn’s offense showed signs of progress last fall, increasing its scoring average to 23.6 a game (up from 14.8 in 2017). New coordinator John Dunn has the necessary pieces to improve upon that total this year, including a talented receiving corps and a quarterback with experience in Pindell. The former junior college transfer threw for 937 yards (52.8 percent) and four touchdowns to six interceptions in his first season on campus. Additionally, Pindell added 289 yards and three scores on the ground. Pindell should be more comfortable in his second year on campus, but he needs to show progress as a passer.
111. Shai Werts, Georgia Southern
New coach Chad Lunsford’s hire of Bob DeBesse as Georgia Southern’s offensive coordinator was one of the top assistant hires in the Sun Belt for 2018. DeBesse helped New Mexico finish inside of the top 20 nationally in rushing offense every year from 2012-17 and runs an option attack that will fit well with the personnel in place. Werts flashed potential as a freshman last fall, ranking second on the team with 722 rushing yards and three scores. Werts has room to improve as a passer but still threw for 929 yards and seven touchdowns on 152 attempts in 2017. DeBesse looks like the right hire to get Georgia Southern’s offense back on track. How quickly can Werts take full control of the new offense?
110. Artur Sitkowski, Rutgers
Chris Ash has the Scarlet Knights on track after this program doubled its win total from 2016 to ’17. Improvement on offense is essential in order to contend for a bowl in 2018, and new play-caller John McNulty has to generate more production out of a passing attack that managed only seven scores last fall. Sitkowski – a three-star freshman – enrolled in time to compete this spring and made a strong impression in the Scarlet-White game by throwing for 280 yards and three scores. However, this battle is far from settled, as Giovanni Rescigno and Johnathan Lewis will compete for the job again in the fall.
109. Jake Luton, Oregon State
Luton’s 2017 season was cut short due to an injury suffered against Washington State on Sept. 16. The former junior college (and Idaho) signal-caller threw for 853 yards and four touchdowns and completed 61.5 percent of his throws in limited action. He will be pushed by Conor Blount and junior college recruit Jack Colletto this fall.
108. Peyton Bender, Kansas
The Jayhawks have finished last in the Big 12 in scoring offense for eight consecutive seasons. Without better play under center in 2018, that streak is likely to extend to nine. Bender led the team with 1,609 yards and 10 scores but only completed 54.2 percent of his passes. Carter Stanley replaced Bender as the starter late in the 2017 season but didn’t fare much better. He finished the year with 1,108 yards and four touchdowns to seven interceptions. Junior college transfer Miles Kendrick is also in the mix for the starting job.
107. Hasaan Klugh, Charlotte
Charlotte coach Brad Lambert tapped former Miami (Ohio) coach Shane Montgomery to take over the play-calling duties for an offense that averaged only 14.2 points a game in 2017. Montgomery is likely to tweak the scheme to implement more pro-style looks, and a handful of quarterbacks will battle in the fall to take the first snap. Klugh is the favorite by default after throwing for 1,524 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushing for 532 yards and nine scores last season. However, Miami graduate transfer Evan Shirreffs and freshmen Chris Reynolds and Brady Pope will push Klugh for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
106. Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
Logan Woodside won’t be easy to replace, but Toledo usually finds the right answer under center. Guadagni ranked as a three-star recruit out of high school and played in nine games as a backup to Woodside last year. He completed one of six passes for 16 yards. Incoming freshman Carter Bradley and sophomore Eli Peters will push Guadagni for time this fall.
105. Kelvin Hopkins, Army
Replacing Ahmad Bradshaw’s production and overall execution of the option attack is the top concern for coach Jeff Monken this spring. Hopkins worked as Bradshaw’s backup last fall and left spring as the team’s top quarterback. He played in seven games in 2017, rushing for 40 yards on seven carries and completing 6 of 18 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Will Hopkins hold onto the job? Or will Kell Walker, Luke Langdon, Christian Anderson or Cam Thomas unseat the junior?
104. Levi Lewis, Louisiana
Jordan Davis left the program as a grad transfer following spring practice, leaving Lewis and Andre Nunez as the frontrunners to take the first snap in 2018. Lewis started three games for the Ragin’ Cajuns last year and connected on 28 of 54 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns. He also chipped in 175 yards and a score on the ground. Lewis ranked as the No. 3 recruit by the 247Sports Composite in Louisiana’s 2017 signing class. The upside is there for a breakout sophomore campaign under new coach Billy Napier.
103. Luke Skipper, Tulsa
After owning one of the nation’s top offenses in 2016, Tulsa took a step back on this side of the ball in ’17. A drop-off from 2016 was inevitable with the departure of quarterback Dane Evans, two 1,000-yard receivers and running back James Flanders. However, the Golden Hurricane averaged just 24.8 points and 5.7 yards a play in conference-only matchups in 2017. Better production out of the quarterback spot is a must for coach Philip Montgomery in 2018. Skipper showed flashes of promise last year but only finished with 1,141 passing yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore should improve with a full offseason to work as the No. 1 quarterback under Montgomery.
102. Kaleb Barker, Troy
Barker gets the nod here, but the battle with Sawyer Smith to replace Brandon Silvers will continue into the fall. The winner of this battle should put up huge numbers in coach Neal Brown’s high-powered offense. Barker played in 13 games as Silvers’ backup last season and completed 8 of 13 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. He also showcased his mobility by rushing for 181 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 attempts. Smith used a redshirt year last fall after working as the backup to Silvers in 2016.
101. Zac Thomas, Appalachian State
Replacing Taylor Lamb won’t be easy, but coach Scott Satterfield will find the right answers on offense. Lamb’s 90 touchdown passes over the last four years ranked as the most by a quarterback in school and Sun Belt history. Thomas worked as the No. 2 signal-caller last fall, receiving limited work in four contests. The Alabama native completed 6 of 10 passes for 33 yards and added 45 yards on eight carries.
100. James Morgan, FIU
With Jarret Doege entrenched as Bowling Green’s starter, Morgan left the MAC for a chance to start at FIU. In two years with the Falcons, Morgan threw for 3,342 yards and 25 touchdowns to 22 picks. The turnover total needs to decrease for Morgan to remain the starter for FIU, and he must increase his completion percentage (51.8 at BGSU). With Maurice Alexander moving to receiver, Morgan’s biggest competition will be Christian Alexander and Kaylan Wiggins.
99. Chris Oladokun, USF
Oladokun is listed here, but don’t count out junior Brett Kean from winning the job. Regardless of which quarterback wins the starting nod, Quinton Flowers leaves big shoes to fill in Tampa after finishing his career with over 11,000 yards of total offense. Kean connected on 7 of 11 passes for 64 yards as Flowers’ backup last fall, while Oladokun played in two contests and completed his only pass for 12 yards. Oladokun has more upside than his ranking among AAC quarterbacks would indicate. However, he’s far from guaranteed the starting job with Kean in the mix.
98. Bryce Perkins, Virginia
Kurt Benkert finished his eligibility in Charlottesville by throwing for 3,207 yards and 25 touchdowns last fall. Coach Bronco Mendenhall heads into 2018 with uncertainty at this position, as only one quarterback (Lindell Stone) has attempted a pass in a Virginia uniform. Stone and freshman Brennan Armstrong are in the mix, but junior college transfer (and former Arizona State) quarterback Bryce Perkins is expected to start this fall. Perkins used a redshirt year in 2015 with the Sun Devils and did not play due to injury in 2016. During his only season at the junior college level, Perkins threw for 1,311 yards and seven scores and added 353 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The Arizona native ranked as a three-star prospect coming out of high school.
97. McLane Carter, Texas Tech
Uncertainty surrounds Texas Tech’s quarterback situation for 2018. Carter, Jett Duffey and true freshman Alan Bowman are all in the mix to replace Nic Shimonek. While the spring didn’t provide a clear answer at quarterback, the Red Raiders have a strong track record of finding the right quarterback. Carter played in four games (with one start) and threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Duffey received playing time in just one contest, completing both of his passes for 16 yards. Carter is listed here, but Duffey has more upside.
96. Riley Neal, Ball State
Injuries wreaked havoc on Ball State’s offense last season, as quarterback Riley Neal and standout running back James Gilbert were limited to just three games. Both are back for 2018, which should provide a boost for the Cardinals’ offense. In his limited playing time from last year, Neal completed 67 of 99 throws for 659 yards and six touchdowns to three picks. Neal threw for 29 touchdowns from 2015-16 as the team’s starter, and a return to full health should allow him to finish in the top half of the MAC in quarterback rankings.
95. Terry Wilson, Kentucky
With Stephen Johnson departing Lexington, the Wildcats have a two-man competition for the starting quarterback job this offseason. Wilson – a former Oregon and junior college recruit – is battling sophomore Gunnar Hoak for the top spot on the depth chart. Wilson ranked as ESPN’s No. 5 junior college recruit for the 2017 signing class and joined the team prior to spring ball. Wilson completed 10 of 24 throws for 131 yards and added 14 rushing yards on five attempts in the spring game.
94. Feleipe Franks, Florida
Florida’s offense struggled mightily last season, but the entire unit is getting a fresh start under new coach Dan Mullen. The Gators averaged only 21 points in SEC contests last fall. Mullen should make better use of Florida’s talent, which includes development at the quarterback position. Franks led the offense with 1,438 yards and nine touchdowns, but he also tossed eight interceptions and completed just 54.6 percent of his throws in 2017. Franks is far from secure at the top of the depth chart. Incoming freshman Emory Jones and redshirt freshman Kyle Trask will push for the job in fall practice.
93. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Minnesota’s quarterbacks managed only seven passing scores in Big Ten matchups last fall. Coach P.J. Fleck knows the Golden Gophers need more out of this position, which is why the staff added junior college recruit Vic Viramontes to compete with Morgan and incoming freshman Zack Annexstad. Morgan ranked as a three-star recruit in the 2017 signing class and used a redshirt in his first year on campus. During Minnesota’s spring game, Morgan completed 18 of 28 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns. He’s ahead of Annexstad and Viramontes entering fall practice.
92. Trey Tinsley, Washington State
Uncertainty surrounds Washington State’s quarterback situation for 2018. Gardner Minshew – a graduate transfer from East Carolina – is slated to arrive this offseason to compete with Anthony Gordon and Tinsley for the starting nod. Minshew threw for 2,140 yards and 16 touchdowns with the Pirates last fall. Gordon and Tinsley were able to work with the No. 1 offense in the spring, leaving Minshew with plenty of ground to make up when he arrives on campus. Tinsley has yet to attempt a pass since arriving at Washington State in 2016.
91. K.J. Carta-Samuels, Colorado State
Coach Mike Bobo was forced to tap into the graduate transfer ranks after Collin Hill reinjured his knee this spring. Hill suffered a torn ACL in 2016 and took a redshirt year last fall to recover. He was slated to replace Nick Stevens but may miss the entire 2018 campaign. With Hill’s status uncertain, Bobo was able to land Carta-Samuels as a graduate transfer from Washington. Carta-Samuels was originally slated to go to UCLA but landed in Fort Collins with an opportunity to start. The California native made one career start in three years at Washington and connected on 27 of 47 attempts for 310 yards and three scores in that span.
90. Tanner Mangum, BYU
This ranking might be a little low for Mangum, but he’s coming back from a serious injury (Achilles tear) and isn’t guaranteed the starting job. Additionally, BYU’s offense struggled mightily last fall, averaging only 17.1 points a game. Mangum threw for 23 touchdowns and 3,377 yards in relief of an injured Taysom Hill in 2015 and worked behind him as the No. 2 quarterback in 2016. Before the season-ending injury, Mangum threw for 1,540 yards and eight touchdowns to nine interceptions in 2017. Freshman Zach Wilson, Beau Hoge and Joe Critchlow will push Mangum for the starting job.
89. Cole Kelley, Arkansas
Kelley is listed here, but the battle with Ty Storey will continue into the fall. New coach Chad Morris is known for his background on offense, but it may take a year or two for the staff to put all of the pieces into place. Kelley started four games last season and ended 2017 with 1,038 passing yards and eight touchdowns. The Louisiana native checks in at an imposing 6-foot-7 frame and has enough mobility to make plays on the ground. Storey has played in three games over the last two years and attempted four passes in that span. True freshman Connor Noland is a name to watch this fall.
88. Steven Williams, Old Dominion
Old Dominion’s offense took a step back last season, dropping from fourth in Conference USA in scoring in 2016 to 11th in ’17. However, most of the offense returns intact for 2018, and Williams gained valuable experience as a true freshman. Over 10 appearances, he threw for 1,528 yards and six touchdowns to 11 picks. Williams also recorded 263 yards and three scores on the ground. Just how valuable is a full offseason of work as the starter to Williams? Consider this: According to Old Dominion, Williams was the second youngest player to start at quarterback in a FBS game.
87. Jarret Doege, Bowling Green
The Falcons have only six wins over the last two years, but there are reasons to be optimistic for coach Mike Jinks. Doege’s emergence late in the 2017 season could help Bowling Green take a step forward this fall. Doege ended the year with 1,381 yards and 12 touchdowns to just three picks and scored twice on the ground. The Texas native threw for at least 250 yards in each of his final three games and connected on 63.8 percent of his passes for the entire year.
86. Alex Thomson, Marshall
Intrigue surrounds Thomson, as he arrives in Huntington after three years at Wagner. He started nine games as a redshirt freshman in 2015 and took a step forward in his development as a sophomore in 2016. In 11 games for the Seahawks, Thomson passed for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns to just five picks. The New Jersey native missed most of 2017 due to a shoulder injury but is expected to be full strength for the 2018 campaign. Thomson is listed here, but Garett Morrell and Isaiah Green are also in the mix for the starting job.
85. Myles Brennan, LSU
Brennan was the favorite to win this job all offseason, but Justin McMillan made a push for the top spot after throwing for 216 yards in the spring game. Brennan ranked as a four-star recruit in last year’s signing class and spent 2017 working as the backup to Danny Etling. The Mississippi native completed 14 of 24 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in six appearances last season. New coordinator Steve Ensminger has promised to upgrade LSU’s passing offense. Settling the quarterback battle (and getting more production or big plays through the air) would certainly help the offense improve off its 2017 totals.
84. Jon Wassink, Western Michigan
Zach Terrell left big shoes to fill in Kalamazoo after guiding Western Michigan to an appearance in the Cotton Bowl in the 2016 season. New coach Tim Lester picked Wassink to replace Terrell last fall, and the Michigan native was off to a good start before suffering a season-ending collarbone injury. In his eight appearances, Wassink threw for 1,391 yards and 14 touchdowns and chipped in three rushing scores. The junior is back at full strength for 2018 and should build upon his 2017 totals with a healthy campaign.
83. Jordan Love, Utah State
Love showed promise in his first opportunity for snaps. After working as Kent Myers’ backup through the first seven games, Love assumed the starting job for the final six contests. He guided the Aggies to a 3-3 record in that span and finished the year with 1,631 passing yards and eight touchdowns, along with 165 rushing yards and two scores. Love tossed six interceptions, but three of those came against Wyoming – one of the league’s best defenses. In addition to minimizing mistakes, Love needs to raise his completion percentage after connecting on 54.9 percent last year.
82. Hayden Moore, Cincinnati
Bright spots on Cincinnati’s offense were hard to find in 2017. The Bearcats averaged only 20.9 points a game and 5.24 yards a play last fall. However, Moore had his moments in guiding the offense and finished the year with 2,562 yards and 20 touchdowns. The senior needs to be more consistent in 2018, along with increasing his completion percentage (56.4 in 2017) and limiting the turnovers (nine picks last year). Redshirt freshman Desmond Ridder's progress is worth watching in the fall.
81. Kato Nelson, Akron
If you are looking for a breakout candidate in the MAC at quarterback, Nelson is a name to watch in 2018. The Florida native played in 10 games (with five starts) and ended 2017 with 989 passing yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing for 198 yards and a score. Nelson’s big performance against Ohio (22 of 38 for 322 yards and four touchdowns) was instrumental in guiding Akron to a MAC East Division title.
80. Kwadra Griggs, Southern Miss
Griggs had a solid debut with the Golden Eagles last year, throwing for 1,879 yards and 16 touchdowns to just two interceptions. He also rushed for 270 yards and three scores. But Griggs missed spring practice due to injury, opening the door for Keon Howard, Marcelo Rodriguez or junior college recruit Jack Abraham to push for the top spot on the depth chart. Until a clear starter emerges, it’s hard to rank Southern Miss’ No. 1 quarterback higher on this list.
79. Stephen Calvert, Liberty
Liberty’s debut season at the FBS level will feature a standout pass-catch combination in the form of Calvert and receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden. Calvert averaged nearly 40 pass attempts (39.8) last season, throwing for 3,363 yards and 29 touchdowns to just six picks. Gandy-Golden was his favorite target, grabbing 69 receptions for 1,066 yards and 10 touchdowns. Calvert was instrumental in the upset win over Baylor in last year’s opener, as he torched the Bears for 447 yards and three touchdowns.
78. De’Andre Johnson, FAU
High expectations surrounded Johnson in his FAU debut last season. However, the former Florida State quarterback played in only one contest due to blood clots in his arm, rushing for 31 yards and completing two of three passes for five yards against Navy. Johnson was back at full strength in the spring and completed 21 of 44 throws for 175 yards in the Red/White game. However, Johnson isn’t secure at the top of the depth chart. Former four-star recruit and Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison is also in the mix, and the battle between these two players will continue deep into fall camp.
77. Dru Brown, Oklahoma State
Mason Rudolph leaves big shoes to fill in Stillwater, and the Cowboys left spring practice with former walk-on Taylor Cornelius in front of the quarterback battle. Cornelius completed 6 of 10 passes for 148 yards as Rudolph’s backup in 2017. However, the competition is far from over. Hawaii transfer Dru Brown will join the team this summer after throwing for 2,785 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. Sophomore Keondre Wudtee and true freshman Spencer Sanders (likely the team’s most-talented option) are also in the mix.
76. David Moore, Memphis
Replacing Riley Ferguson at quarterback is the top priority for coach Mike Norvell this offseason. Ferguson leaves big shoes to fill, but the Tigers have two talented and intriguing candidates vying for the starting job. Moore redshirted in his first year on campus and connected on 7 of 10 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown as Ferguson’s backup last fall. Moore also rushed for 47 yards in limited snaps, indicating he will bring more to the ground game than Ferguson did as the starter. The sophomore is set to compete with Arizona State transfer Brady White for the starting job in the fall. Regardless of who starts, Memphis should be explosive once again on offense.
75. Devon Modster, UCLA
Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense has arrived in Westwood. And this offseason, the former Oregon coach added competition to a quarterback room that featured Modster, sophomore Matt Lynch, redshirt freshman Austin Burton and incoming freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Michigan graduate transfer Wilton Speight will arrive on campus this summer and is expected to push Modster for the starting job. Modster threw for 671 yards and four touchdowns and added 34 rushing yards last fall.
74. Chazz Surratt, North Carolina
In order for North Carolina to rebound from last year’s disappointing 3-9 record, coach Larry Fedora has to find answers on an offense that averaged only 19.3 points in ACC games. The Tar Heels had three different quarterbacks make starts last fall, with Surratt ending 2017 with the team lead in passing yards (1,342). Nathan Elliott wasn’t far behind Surratt, as he threw for 925 yards and 10 touchdowns in five appearances. Regardless of who starts, both quarterbacks have to do a better job of limiting mistakes (eight combined interceptions) and developing more consistency and big plays through the air. Look for Surratt and Elliott to continue their battle deep into fall practice.
73. Brandon Dawkins, Indiana
Dawkins arrives in Bloomington after spending the last four seasons at Arizona. With Khalil Tate entrenched as the starter, the California native decided to depart Tucson for a chance to start elsewhere. Dawkins isn’t guaranteed the starting job, however. Peyton Ramsey is in mix after throwing for 1,252 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Ramsey showed potential in his first opportunity for snaps but averaged only 6.1 yards per attempt. As evidenced by his 2016 rushing totals at Arizona (944 yards), Dawkins can be a difference maker on the ground. However, just like Ramsey, Dawkins has room to improve as a passer (53.6 completion percentage in 2016).
72. Keller Chryst, Tennessee
Jarrett Guarantano (15 of 27 for 226 yards and two scores) finished the spring on a high note, but he will have to compete with Chryst for the No. 1 spot this fall. New coach Jeremy Pruitt landed Chryst as a graduate transfer from Stanford, giving the Volunteers an experienced option to navigate a brutal 2018 schedule. Chryst completed 160 of 289 passes for 1,926 yards and 19 touchdowns during his three years with the Cardinal. He went 6-0 as the team’s No. 1 quarterback in 2016 and started seven contests before losing the job to K.J. Costello in 2017.
71. Frank Nutile, Temple
Coach Geoff Collins’ decision to insert Nutile into the starting lineup paid dividends for Temple last fall. The Owls went 4-2 with Nutile as the starter, including a win over FIU in the bowl game. The senior is the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback headed into 2018 and could help Temple emerge as the biggest threat to UCF in the AAC East. Nutile threw for 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight appearances last fall and connected on 61.3 percent of his passes.
70. Shawn Robinson, TCU
Robinson – a former four-star recruit – is the heavy favorite to replace Kenny Hill as TCU’s starting quarterback in 2018. The Texas native played in six contests last year and made a start in relief of Hill against Texas Tech. Robinson completed 6 of 17 passes for 85 yards and added 84 yards on the ground versus the Red Raiders. The sophomore isn’t short on talent and should benefit from a full offseason to work as the starter.
69. Anthony Brown, Boston College
Brown edged Darius Wade for the starting job last fall and was on track for a solid season. However, he suffered a leg injury against NC State and missed the team’s final three games. Despite missing three contests, Brown still ended the year with 1,367 passing yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 210 yards. The New Jersey native did not participate in spring ball as he continues to recover from the 2017 injury. Sophomore EJ Perry worked as the No. 1 quarterback in the spring, garnering valuable experience in case Brown is limited in the fall.
68. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
It’s only a matter of time before Scott Frost builds one of the Big Ten’s top offenses in Lincoln. However, with the switch to an up-tempo, spread offense, 2018 is likely to be a transition year for this unit. The Cornhuskers have a couple of candidates vying for the starting job, with Martinez or redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia likely to start. Martinez did not play as a high school senior due to injury but accumulated 2,562 passing yards and 25 touchdowns and added 1,462 rushing yards and 14 scores as a junior in 2016. He ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2018 signing class and enrolled in time to compete in spring practice. Martinez is a great fit for Frost’s high-powered offense.
67. JT Daniels, USC
USC ended spring camp with a question mark at this position. Can Matt Fink and Jack Sears hold off Daniels? Fink completed 6 of 9 passes for 43 yards as Sam Darnold’s backup last fall, while Sears took a redshirt in his first year on campus. Daniels reclassified to graduate high school a year early and ranked as the No. 16 overall quarterback for the 2018 signing class. The five-star freshman has all of the physical tools and talent needed to move up this list during the 2018 season – provided he beats out Fink and Sears this fall.
66. Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois utilized three different starting quarterbacks last season, with Childers eventually taking ownership of the No. 1 spot. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Childers paced the offense with 1,674 passing yards and 16 scores. He also showcased his mobility by finishing second on the team with 473 yards and five touchdowns on 143 carries. Childers is poised to improve in his second year as the starter.
65. Kendall Hinton, Wake Forest
Wake Forest finished second in the ACC by averaging 35.3 points a game last season, and coach Dave Clawson’s team returns plenty of firepower for 2018. Receiver Greg Dortch is one of the ACC’s top targets, and the Demon Deacons’ line ranks among the best in the league. However, maintaining last year’s production is likely to rest on how well Hinton replaces John Wolford under center. Hinton isn’t short on experience, as he’s started four games under center over the last three years. The North Carolina native played in four games (and started one) in 2017 and threw for 399 yards and four scores. Additionally, he added 190 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Hinton has flashed potential but needs to be more consistent in the passing game.
64. Arion Worthman, Air Force
In a stat that should surprise no one, Air Force’s offense finished fourth nationally in rushing last fall. Worthman was a significant contributor to the ground attack, rushing for 821 yards and 13 scores. He also threw for 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns to just four picks. However, Worthman didn’t offer many big plays on the ground (3.8 ypc) and connected under 50 percent (49.5) on passes. If Worthman improves his execution of the option attack and provides more big plays, it would go a long way to helping Air Force avoid another losing record in 2018.
63. Jawon Pass, Louisville
Lamar Jackson leaves big shoes to fill, but Louisville should be fine at quarterback. Pass – a four-star recruit in the 2016 signing class – is ready to step in as the No. 1 quarterback for coach Bobby Petrino. Pass redshirted in 2016 and played in six contests last year, throwing for 238 yards and two scores on 23 attempts. The Georgia native won’t be as prolific as Jackson was on the ground, but Pass is more than capable of making plays outside of the pocket. With a big-time arm and a lot of raw talent, Pass will be a breakout candidate for 2018.
62. Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Pitt missed out on a bowl for the first time since 2007 last fall. However, last year’s record and finish to the season provided optimism for coach Pat Narduzzi. After throwing for 242 yards in a 20-14 loss to Virginia Tech in late November, Pickett earned his first start for the season finale against Miami. The New Jersey native guided the Panthers to an upset victory over the Hurricanes by throwing for 193 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 60 yards and two scores. The sample size on Pickett is limited. However, the impressive finish to 2017 should propel the sophomore to a breakout year in 2018.
61. Christian Chapman, San Diego State
San Diego State possesses one of the nation’s top rushing attacks, so it’s no surprise Chapman averaged only 18.3 pass attempts a game in 2017. The California native has started 29 consecutive games for coach Rocky Long and threw for 1,873 yards and 13 scores last fall. Chapman has yet to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark as a passer, but he’s efficient and doesn’t make many mistakes. That’s the perfect formula for Long and the run-first offense by the Aztecs.
60. Andrew Ford, UMass
Ford won’t have standout tight end Adam Breneman to throw to in 2018, but the senior quarterback has plenty of weapons to keep the offense performing at a high level. After tossing 26 touchdowns in 2016, Ford delivered another solid all-around season for coach Mark Whipple last fall. Ford connected on 63.2 percent of his passes for 2,924 yards and 22 touchdowns, while tossing only four interceptions. With Ford guiding the offense, along with a favorable schedule, UMass has a chance to push for its first winning record since moving to the FBS.
59. Armani Rogers, UNLV
Rogers might have the most upside of any quarterback in the Mountain West. The former three-star recruit showcased his potential last fall, nearly guiding UNLV to bowl eligibility and ranked fourth in the conference by averaging 225.1 total yards a game. Rogers threw for 1,471 yards and six touchdowns and ranked second on the team with 780 rushing yards and eight scores. Rogers is still developing as a passer, but he’s a dangerous option on the ground and will only get better with more snaps.
58. A.J. Erdely, UAB
Erdely was a key cog in UAB’s eight-win season last fall. The Georgia native connected on 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,331 yards and 16 touchdowns to just four picks. He also ranked second on the team with 326 rushing yards and paced all UAB rushers with 13 scores. Erdely earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors for his performance in 2017 and is clearly one of the league’s top quarterbacks headed into 2018.
57. Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State
McMaryion was a key pickup for Fresno State in coach Jeff Tedford’s first year. The Oregon State graduate transfer threw for 2,726 yards and 14 touchdowns to only five interceptions. Additionally, McMaryion connected on 62.1 percent of his throws and tied for second among Mountain West quarterbacks by completing 10 passes of 40 or more yards. With the league’s top receiving corps at his disposal, McMaryion is poised to challenge for All-Mountain West honors in 2018.
56. J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech needs a big season from Smith in order to return to the top of Conference USA’s West Division. In his first full year as the starter in 2017, Smith showed potential and is only going to get better with more snaps. The Mississippi native threw for 2,974 yards and 16 touchdowns and ranked third on the team with 378 rushing yards. Smith also finished third in the conference by averaging 257.8 total yards a game last fall.
55. Ross Bowers, California
With 17 returning starters back, California should take another step forward under coach Justin Wilcox in 2018. The Golden Bears have room to improve after averaging 26.4 points in Pac-12 games last fall, but coordinator Beau Baldwin has one of the league’s top receiving corps, five starters back up front, and a 1,000-yard rusher in Patrick Laird. Bowers had a solid debut last year, connecting on 59 percent of his throws for 3,039 yards and 18 touchdowns. South Carolina transfer Brandon McIlwain could push Bowers for the starting job in fall camp.
54. Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
Kansas State closed spring practice with Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton locked into a tight battle for the top spot under center. While a clear starter didn’t emerge, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Wildcats. Both players showed promise last season and are more than capable of leading the K-State offense. Thompson threw for 689 yards and five touchdowns, while Delton recorded 637. Both players were a threat on the ground, but Delton outrushed Thompson (500 yards to 267).
53. Steven Montez, Colorado
If Colorado is to push for a winning record and return to a bowl game, it has to get more out of Montez. In his first year as the starter, Montez threw for 2,975 yards and 18 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Additionally, he added 338 yards and three scores on the ground. However, Montez struggled at times, with his quarterback rating dipping below 130 in four out of the last five games. With more consistency, Montez could jump up this list by a few spots in 2018.
52. Kasim Hill, Maryland
Injuries wreaked havoc on Maryland’s quarterbacks last fall. Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome both suffered torn ACLs, which left Max Bortenschlager and Ryan Brand as the team’s top options under center. If healthy, Hill should have the edge to start for new coordinator Matt Canada. Hill doesn’t have much in the way of tape to evaluate, as he played in three games and completed 18 of 21 throws for 230 yards and two touchdowns in three games last fall. He also showcased his mobility by rushing for 60 yards and a score on just 12 attempts. Hill has a lot of upside. How quickly can Canada help Hill reach his potential?
51. D’Eriq King, Houston
The quarterback situation in Houston got a little more interesting with the late addition of Tennessee transfer Quinten Dormady this spring. However, King is still expected to be the starter, especially since his athleticism and ability to direct an up-tempo attack is a good fit for new coordinator Kendal Briles. King received snaps at quarterback and receiver in 2016 but moved to a full-time role under center last fall. Over 10 appearances (with five starts), King threw for 1,260 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 379 yards and eight scores.
50. Ty Gangi, Nevada
Gangi had an interesting 2017 season. He opened the year as the starter but lost the job to Kaymen Cureton for two games in September. However, Gangi regained the starting job and closed out 2017 as one of the Mountain West’s top quarterbacks. He threw for 2,746 yards and 25 touchdowns and connected on 61 percent of his passes. Gangi also added four scores and 180 yards on the ground. In conference-only matchups, Gangi led all Mountain West quarterbacks by averaging 283.8 passing yards a contest.
49. Ben Hicks, SMU
SMU’s offense is still likely to rank among the best in the American Athletic Conference this year, but there are some big changes to navigate this offseason. The Mustangs have a new coach (Sonny Dykes) and a different scheme under new coordinator Rhett Lashlee to implement on offense. Also, receivers Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn decided to bolt to the NFL. Hicks posted career highs in passing yards (3,569) and passing touchdowns (33) last fall. He will be in the mix once again for All-AAC honors.
48. Caleb Evans, ULM
ULM’s offense showed marked improvement last year, increasing its scoring average from 23.3 points a game in 2016 to 33.9 in ’17. And with Evans back at the controls, the Warhawks should be even better on this side of the ball in 2018, giving coach Matt Viator’s team a chance at six wins and a bowl game. Evans threw for 2,868 yards and 17 touchdowns last fall and accounted for 579 yards and 13 scores on the ground. The Texas native ranked third in the Sun Belt by averaging 287.3 total yards a game in 2017.
47. Tyree Jackson, Buffalo
Injuries limited Jackson to nine games last year, but it was evident the Michigan native is one of the MAC’s top rising stars. Jackson completed 53.1 percent of his throws in 2016 but improved that total to 60.3 in ’17. And for the season total, he threw 2,096 yards and 12 touchdowns to just three picks and added 197 yards and four scores on the ground. Assuming Jackson stays healthy, he should be among the top Group of 5 quarterbacks in college football.
46. Gus Ragland, Miami
Ragland was a big reason for Miami’s second-half improvement during the 2016 season and most anticipated that would carry into 2017. The Ohio native missed three games due to injury but still took a step forward in his development. Ragland threw for 2,032 yards and 19 touchdowns and scored three times on the ground. The senior only completed four passes of 40 yards or more, so there’s room to improve in the big-play department. Look for Ragland to close out his career in Oxford on a high note and push for All-MAC honors.
45. Jonathan Banks, Tulane
Putting Banks over SMU’s Ben Hicks and Houston’s D’Eriq King might come as a surprise to some, but we think Banks is headed for a huge 2018 season. The Texas native came to New Orleans after a season at Independence Community College. In his first year at the controls for coach Willie Fritz, Banks threw for 1,797 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 592 yards and seven scores. With another offseason to work as the starter, Banks should thrive under the direction of Fritz and coordinator Doug Ruse.
44. David Blough, Purdue
Blough is listed here as Purdue’s starter, but the battle with Elijah Sindelar will continue deep into fall camp. This duo combined for 3,202 yards and 27 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions last fall. Additionally, both players are recovering from significant leg injuries, as Sindelar played the end of the 2017 season on a torn ACL, while Blough missed the final four contests. Considering Blough returned in time to compete in spring ball, the extra reps over Sindelar might give him the edge to start the opener. Whether coach Jeff Brohm turns to Blough or Sindelar, Purdue is in good shape under center.
43. Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame
Ian Book will continue to push Wimbush for the starting job in the fall, making this a tough situation to get a read on at the conclusion of Notre Dame's spring practice. Wimbush isn’t short on talent (a former four-star recruit), but he has to show more efficiency in the passing game. In 12 games last year, Wimbush threw for 1,870 yards and 16 touchdowns but only completed 49.5 percent of his passes. However, Wimbush was a dynamic runner, recording 803 yards and 14 scores last fall. With a little improvement as a passer, Wimbush could crack the top 30 of this list in 2018.
42. Nick Starkel, Texas A&M
Kellen Mond and Starkel will continue their quarterback battle in the fall, but Starkel is a better fit for new coach Jimbo Fisher’s offense and should win the top spot on the depth chart. Starkel opened 2017 as the team’s No. 1 quarterback but suffered a leg injury against UCLA and was sidelined for the next six games. He returned for the final six contests and ended the year with 1,793 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. Starkel also completed 60 percent of his throws and tossed just six interceptions on 205 attempts. Fisher has an excellent track record when it comes to quarterback development. Starkel might be his next star pupil.
41. K.J. Costello, Stanford
Keller Chryst transferred to Tennessee, leaving Costello as Stanford’s No. 1 quarterback for 2018. Costello showed promise in his first opportunity for snaps last fall, connecting on 58.8 percent of his throws for 1,573 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished 2017 on a high note by throwing for 212 yards (a season high) against TCU in the Alamo Bowl. With Bryce Love and one of the nation’s top offensive lines leading the way, Costello won’t be asked to carry the team on his own, allowing the sophomore time to develop into a solid starter this year.
40. TaQuon Marshall, Georgia Tech
Marshall began his career at Georgia Tech as an A-back but shifted to quarterback prior to the 2016 season. After working as a backup that year, Marshall earned the starting job for 2017. The Georgia native had a prolific debut for the Yellow Jackets, accumulating 1,146 yards and 17 rushing scores. He recorded six games of at least 100 rushing yards and threw 10 touchdowns to five interceptions. Marshall won’t be asked to throw too often, but he needs to raise his completion percentage (37.1 percent last year) and connect on a few more big plays through the air.
39. Malik Rosier, Miami
Even though Rosier guided Miami to 11 wins and set a new school record with 31 total touchdowns last year, he’s not guaranteed to start in 2018. The senior is being pushed by redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry and true freshman Jarren Williams for the starting job, with the battle expected to extend deep into fall practice. Two areas of concern for Rosier: Completion percentage and turnovers. In 13 games last year, Rosier completed only 54 percent of his throws and tossed 14 picks.
38. Daniel Jones, Duke
Jones experienced his share of ups and downs in his second year as Duke’s starter. After throwing for 2,836 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016, Jones’ totals dipped to 2,691 yards and 14 passing scores. Additionally, the North Carolina native’s completion percentage fell to 56.7 after connecting on 62.8 percent as a freshman in 2016. Coach David Cutcliffe has to rebuild the offensive line, but the receiving corps and running back Brittain Brown provide a good foundation at the skill spots. Jones should rebound to a solid junior campaign in 2018.
37. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Thorson’s spot in the quarterback rankings comes with an asterisk. The senior suffered a significant knee injury in the Music City Bowl win over Kentucky and did not participate in spring ball. Will Thorson return to full strength in time for the 2018 season? If he does, he should be higher on this list after throwing for 2,844 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall.
36. Manny Wilkins, Arizona State
Wilkins quietly had a productive 2017 season and will be looking to take another step forward under new coach Herm Edwards. The California native earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors after throwing for 3,270 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushing for 287 yards and seven scores.
35. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Murray ranks as the No. 5 Big 12 quarterback on this list, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Texas A&M transfer finish 2018 among the top three signal-callers in the conference. The former five-star recruit started three games with the Aggies in 2015, completing 59.5 percent of his throws for 686 yards and five scores. He also added 335 yards on the ground. Murray played in seven games as Baker Mayfield’s backup last year and connected on 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns. The Texas native is a dynamic runner but is far from a finished product as a passer. The upside is there for a monster season under coach Lincoln Riley. How quickly will Murray settle into the starting job?
34. Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Just like Kyler Murray, don’t be surprised if Ehlinger climbs this list by the time fall practice starts. All signs point to Ehlinger holding off Shane Buechele for the starting job, and coach Tom Herman is counting on the sophomore to jumpstart an offense that averaged only 25.4 points a game in Big 12 contests last year. As a true freshman last fall, Ehlinger led the team with 1,915 passing yards and tossed 11 scores. He also paced the team in rushing yards (381) and scored twice on the ground. With a full offseason to work as the starter and develop under Herman’s watch, Ehlinger is poised for a big jump in his second year in Austin.
33. Kyle Kempt, Iowa State
Kempt stepped up in a big way last season. He assumed the starting job after Jacob Park left the team in early October and made his first start on the road at Oklahoma. The big moment didn’t rattle Kempt, as he connected on 18 of 24 throws for 343 yards and three touchdowns in an upset over the Sooners. Kempt finished 2017 with 1,787 yards and 15 passing scores and completed 66.3 percent of his passes. He also tossed only three picks on 243 attempts.
32. Charlie Brewer, Baylor
Baylor should show significant improvement in coach Matt Rhule’s second year. Brewer is one of the main reasons for optimism in Waco, as the Texas native appears poised to build off a promising 2017 season. As a true freshman, Brewer completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 1,562 yards and 11 touchdowns to just four picks. He also added 166 yards on the ground, including 49 against TCU in the season finale. With a loaded receiving corps in place, Brewer is likely to push for All-Big 12 honors in 2018.
31. Tyler Huntley, Utah
For Utah to win its first Pac-12 South title, the offense needs Huntley to develop into one of the league’s top quarterbacks. That’s a reasonable expectation considering Huntley threw for 2,411 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 537 yards and six scores in his first year as the team’s starter. Huntley completed 63.8 percent of his throws and will benefit from another offseason to work with offensive coordinator Troy Taylor.
30. James Blackman, Florida State
With Deondre Francois on the mend from a season-ending leg injury, along with the arrival of a new coach (Willie Taggart) and scheme on offense, Florida State’s quarterback battle between Blackman, Francois and Bailey Hockman won’t be settled this summer. While Taggart will take his time in selecting a starter, the Seminoles are in good shape at this position. Francois threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016, and Blackman performed well after he took over the starting job as a true freshman last fall. Over 12 appearances, Blackman threw for 2,230 yards and 19 touchdowns and connected on four passes of 50 yards or more. The winner of this battle should finish higher on this list by December.
29. Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss
Ole Miss’ offense didn’t miss a beat after Shea Patterson was lost for the year due to a knee injury in late October. Ta’amu kept the Rebels’ attack firing on all cylinders, guiding the offense to 30 or more points in four out of the last five games. The Hawaii native ended the season with 1,682 yards and 11 touchdowns to just four picks. Ta’amu can also hurt defenses with his legs (165 yards last year) and should connect on plenty of big plays with receiver A.J. Brown in 2018.
28. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
The Buckeyes closed spring practice without a No. 1 quarterback. Joe Burrow and Haskins were neck-and-neck for the starting job, but Burrow could leave Ohio State as a graduate transfer this offseason. Regardless of who starts, the Buckeyes should be in good shape at quarterback. Haskins showcased his potential in limited action as J.T. Barrett’s backup, which included 94 passing yards and 24 on the ground against Michigan. The Maryland native finished 2017 by completing 40 of 57 passes for 565 yards and four scores. He’s not as dynamic of a runner as Barrett was, but Haskins has enough mobility to make plays on the ground.
27. Nate Stanley, Iowa
Iowa’s offense had a seamless transition from C.J. Beathard to Nate Stanley. In his first year as the starter, Stanley tossed 26 touchdowns and threw for 2,437 yards. He completed 55.8 percent of his passes but delivered key performances against Ohio State and Iowa State to guide the Hawkeyes to victory in both contests. Coach Kirk Ferentz will be looking for Stanley to take another step forward in 2018, and the junior will have help from a solid supporting cast, which includes a likely All-American at tight end in Noah Fant.
26. Nathan Rourke, Ohio
Rourke was one of the MAC’s top breakout players last season. After taking over as the team’s starter in the third game of 2017, Rourke helped Ohio’s offense lead the MAC in scoring offense (39.1 ppg) and second in yards per play (6.4). The junior college product threw for 2,203 yards and 17 scores, but his biggest asset was the ability to make plays on the ground. Rourke finished second on the team with 912 rushing yards and tied for third nationally with 21 touchdowns on the ground.
25. Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin
It’s no secret Wisconsin is going to ride its offensive line and running back Jonathan Taylor in an effort to win the Big Ten’s West Division again. However, the Badgers won’t be a one-dimensional offense in 2018. Hornibrook seems poised to elevate his performance a step higher after throwing for 2,644 yards and 25 scores last fall. The Pennsylvania native has to play better against some of the top teams in the Big Ten and must eliminate the turnovers (15 INTs). However, with a standout receiving corps in place, Hornibrook should take a step forward in his development.
24. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
Shurmur quietly finished 2017 ranked second among SEC quarterbacks with 26 touchdown tosses. Over 12 contests, Shurmur threw for 2,823 yards and connected on 57.9 percent of his throws. Shurmur also eclipsed 300 or more yards in three out of Vanderbilt’s last five games in 2017.
23. Eric Dungey, Syracuse
Syracuse has to retool its receiving corps after the departures of Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips, but the path to a bowl game hinges on keeping Dungey healthy. The Oregon native has missed the final three contests in each of the last three years due to injury. When healthy, Dungey is among the ACC’s top quarterbacks. In nine appearances last season, he threw for 2,495 yards and 14 scores and rushed for 595 yards and nine touchdowns. If Dungey is limited at any point in 2018, Syracuse will turn to intriguing redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito – a four-star recruit in the 2017 signing class.
22. Malcolm Perry, Navy
Perry opened the 2017 season at slot back but closed out the year as Navy’s starting quarterback for three out of the last five games. In Perry’s three starts, he accumulated 646 rushing yards (including 250 against Army) and recorded seven scores. The Tennessee native finished 2017 with 1,182 yards and 11 scores on the ground, while accumulating five passing yards. And here’s an interesting stat: Perry attempted only one pass in his three starts last year. He’s due for a breakout campaign as Navy’s No. 1 quarterback in 2018.
21. Justice Hansen, Arkansas State
Hansen led the way for Arkansas State’s top-ranked offense in the Sun Belt last season and is the league’s clear No. 1 quarterback headed into 2018. The Oklahoma native earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors after throwing for 3,967 yards and 37 touchdowns and rushing for 423 yards and seven scores. Hansen led all Sun Belt players by averaging 365.8 total yards a contest and connected on six passes of 50 or more yards. With Hansen leading the offense, the Red Wolves should be the heavy favorite to win the Sun Belt title in 2018.
20. Kelly Bryant, Clemson
Replacing Deshaun Watson was no easy task for Bryant, but he threw for 13 touchdowns and 2,802 yards and added 665 yards and 11 scores on the ground last season. However, with sophomore Hunter Johnson and five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence pushing for snaps, there’s no guarantee Bryant starts all year for Clemson in 2018. Both Johnson and Lawrence are better passers than Bryant, which is an area for the Tigers to improve upon after connecting on just four passes of 40 or more yards in ACC games in 2017.
19. Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech
High expectations surround Jackson going into the 2018 season. With Jerod Evans entrenched as the starter in 2016, Jackson took a redshirt year in his first season on campus. Last fall, Jackson emerged as the team’s No. 1 quarterback in offseason practices and guided the Hokies to a 9-4 record. The Michigan native started all 13 games, throwing for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushing for 324 yards and six scores last fall. With another offseason to work under coach Justin Fuente, look for Jackson to take another step forward in his development and challenge for All-ACC honors.
18. Brent Stockstill, MTSU
Injuries have derailed Stockstill in back-to-back years, but the senior is still among the top Group of 5 players in the nation. Stockstill was limited to eight games due to a shoulder injury last season, yet still ended the year with 1,672 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. The Tennessee native has passed for 8,951 yards and 77 scores over the last three-plus seasons.
17. Brett Rypien, Boise State
With Rypien leading the way, Boise State is the early favorite to be the top Group of 5 team in 2018. The Washington native has assembled a prolific resume through his first three years on campus and will look to cap his career with another Mountain West title and a trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl. Rypien has earned all-conference honors in all three years on campus and has passed for 9,876 yards and 60 touchdowns in that span. Additionally, Rypien has eclipsed over 60 percent in completion percentage in all three seasons at the controls.
16. Mason Fine, North Texas
The Mean Green showed marked improvement in coach Seth Littrell’s second season and are likely to begin 2018 as the favorite to win Conference USA’s West Division once again. Led by Fine, a high-powered offense was a big reason why North Texas claimed the division title last year. Fine started all 14 games for the Mean Green, throwing for 4,052 yards and 31 touchdowns. The Oklahoma native’s 4,052 yards and 31 passing scores set new single-season records for the program. The huge statistical year also allowed Fine to earn first-team All-Conference USA honors.
15. Shea Patterson, Michigan
Michigan’s 2018 Big Ten title hopes received a boost when Patterson was granted immediate eligibility. The Louisiana native ranked as a five-star recruit in the 2016 signing class and was pressed into action after Chad Kelly suffered a season-ending injury that year. Patterson started the final three games for the Rebels and threw for 880 yards and six scores, while adding 169 yards on 41 carries. High expectations surrounded Patterson in his first year as a full-time starter, but he was limited to seven games due to injury last fall. Despite the injury-shortened season, Patterson threw for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns and completed 63.8 percent of his passes. The junior has to do a better job of limiting the mistakes after tossing nine picks on 260 attempts in 2017. Patterson should be an impact addition for Michigan this fall.
14. Jake Bentley, South Carolina
New play-caller Bryan McClendon is tasked with helping Bentley elevate his play after South Carolina’s offense averaged only 24.2 points a game last fall. More up-tempo looks are in the works for McClendon, which is a good fit for an offense featuring one of the SEC’s top receiving corps. Bentley showed promise in a late stint as South Carolina’s starter in 2016 and threw for 2,794 yards and 18 scores last fall. Entering his junior year, Bentley looks poised to take the next step in his development.
13. Ryan Finley, NC State
Finley has posted back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons and should easily reach three in a row in 2018. The Arizona native threw for 3,200 yards and 16 scores and connected on 65.1 percent of his throws in 2017. Additionally, he recorded nine passing plays of 40 yards or more and did not throw an interception in NC State’s first seven games. Finley’ has completed 63 percent of his passes since coming to Raleigh, which ranks second in school history behind Philip Rivers. Finley has one of the ACC’s top receiving corps at his disposal, which should allow him to have a strong senior year and make a case to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft.
12. Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
Lewerke’s emergence was a big reason why Michigan State improved its win total by seven games from 2016 to ’17. After playing in four games (and two starts) in 2016, Lewerke threw for 2,793 yards and 20 touchdowns and ranked second on the team with 559 rushing yards and five scores last fall. The Arizona native is the only quarterback in school history to throw for more than 400 yards in back-to-back games.
11. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm ranks as the No. 5 quarterback on this list, but he could easily rank a few spots higher. The gap between the league’s top signal-callers in 2018 is small, and Fromm still has to contend with incoming freshman Justin Fields. Fromm was one of college football’s top freshmen last season, as he replaced Jacob Eason as Georgia’s No. 1 quarterback following an injury in the opener against Appalachian State. Fromm threw for 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns, while his 62.2 completion percentage tied for second in the SEC last fall.
10. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
Fitzgerald was limited in the spring due to a leg injury suffered in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss. However, the Georgia native is on track to return to full strength for the fall and should thrive under new coach Joe Moorhead. In his second year as the starter, Fitzgerald threw for 1,782 yards and 15 touchdowns and added 984 yards and 14 scores on the ground. The senior is still developing as a passer, but Moorhead should help him take a step forward in his final year in Starkville.
9. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
Running back Kerryon Johnson will be missed, but Auburn's offense is set behind Stidham and one of the league's top receiving corps for 2018. After all, Stidham’s 3,158 passing yards in his first year on campus ranked second for a single season in program history. He also tossed 18 touchdowns and added 153 yards and four scores on the ground. Stidham’s 10 passing plays of 50 yards or more ranked fifth nationally among FBS quarterbacks last season.
8. Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert was poised for a monster 2017 season but a collarbone injury in late September forced him to miss five games. The Oregon native returned for the final three contests and ended the year with 1,983 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. If Herbert can stay healthy, challenging for first-team All-Pac-12 and All-America honors is within reach for 2018. And with running back Royce Freeman off to the NFL, Herbert will be the focal point of Oregon's offense this fall.
7. Jake Browning, Washington
Washington’s passing game missed John Ross’ big-play ability at receiver last season, but Browning still threw for 2,719 yards and 19 touchdowns over 13 games. Additionally, Browning tossed just five interceptions and his 68.5 completion percentage ranked second among FBS quarterbacks. The senior ranks second in school history in career passing yards (9,104) and owns the program record for most career passing scores (78).
6. Drew Lock, Missouri
Lock earned first-team All-SEC honors after throwing for 3,964 yards and 44 touchdowns last season. The Missouri native was instrumental in the Tigers’ late-season surge, guiding the offense to an average of 51.3 points in the team’s six games prior to the Texas Bowl. Lock’s 44 touchdowns were the most of any FBS quarterback last fall, while his 521 passing yards in the opener against Missouri State set a new school record.
5. McKenzie Milton, UCF
Milton was the catalyst behind UCF’s high-powered offense last season and is expected to push for All-America honors in 2018. In 13 games in 2017, Milton threw for 4,037 yards (a school record for a single season) and 37 touchdowns. He also finished second on the team with 613 rushing yards and eight scores. Milton posted two appearances of more than 400 passing yards and also led all AAC quarterbacks by completing 67.1 percent of his throws. New coach Josh Heupel should keep UCF’s offense performing at a high level, allowing Milton an opportunity to match or exceed last year’s totals.
4. Khalil Tate, Arizona
Tate emerged as one of college football’s most dynamic playmakers last season and should thrive under the tutelage of new coach Kevin Sumlin and coordinator Noel Mazzone. The junior is among the leading candidates to win the Heisman Trophy in 2018 after accumulating 3,002 total yards and 26 overall scores last fall.
3. Trace McSorley, Penn State
With Saquan Barkley off to the NFL, Penn State’s Big Ten title and CFB Playoff hopes rest with McSorley. The Virginia native has posted back-to-back prolific seasons as Penn State’s starter and is among the top candidates to win the Heisman Trophy in 2018. McSorley has accounted for 7,184 passing yards and 57 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Additionally, he’s rushed for 856 yards and 18 scores on the ground in that span. McSorley’s 77 career touchdowns are the most by any Penn State player in program history.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Yes, ranking Tagovailoa is a projection and requires the sophomore holding off Jalen Hurts for the starting job. And sure, he’s got some developing to do and has to prove the second-half performance against Georgia can be counted on for a full year. However, it’s no secret Tagovailoa – a five-star prospect and the No. 32 overall player in the 2017 247Sports Composite – might be the most-talented quarterback signed by Nick Saban since arriving in Tuscaloosa in 2007. In nine games last year, Tagovailoa threw for 636 yards and 11 touchdowns on 49 completions and added 133 yards and two scores on the ground. The Hawaii native has all of the talent needed to rank among the nation’s best at quarterback by the end of 2018. How soon will he reach his potential under new coordinator Mike Locksley and quarterbacks coach Dan Enos?
1. Will Grier, West Virginia
The Big 12’s unquestioned No. 1 quarterback resides in Morgantown this season. Grier – a Heisman candidate and a likely All-America pick – is at the controls of one of the nation’s top offenses. After sitting out 2016 due to transfer rules, Grier threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns in 11 appearances for West Virginia last fall. Additionally, the North Carolina native’s eight completions of 60 yards or more ranked third nationally among all FBS quarterbacks. Grier missed two full games due to a finger injury suffered against Texas on Nov. 18 but will be back at full strength for 2018.