College Football's 10 Most Underrated Quarterbacks in 2013
10. Vad Lee, Georgia Tech
Lee is the next in line to pilot Paul Johnson’s triple option attack. Like Josh Nesbitt and Tevin Washington before him, Lee’s physicality and athletic ability are a perfect match for the Yellow Jackets’ offensive scheme. Lee saw his playing time steadily increase last season, as Johnson got more comfortable going to the sophomore. He got 19 carries and threw nine passes in the first six games but carried 77 times for 358 yards and six touchdowns, while throwing 47 times over the final eight games. The experience he got last year should help Lee settle in as the starter and he could be Johnson's best passing quarterback ever.
9. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
In his first career start as a true freshman, Keeton nearly led Utah State to an upset over the defending national champion Auburn Tigers in 2011. And he has been a star ever since. He owns a career 38:11 touchdown-to-interception ratio, is a career 65.6 percent passer and helped Utah State to its best season in school history a year ago (11-2). Add to it his excellent athletic ability — he has 912 career rushing yards and 12 rushing TDs — and you have one of the game's most underrated signal callers.
8. Bryn Renner, North Carolina
The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has a chance to have a special senior season in Larry Fedora’s system. Renner already owns multiple school records, like the single-season (28) and single-game (5) TD records. He capped his second year under center winning seven of his last nine games and throwing for at least 300 yards in each of his last four contests. He’s a career 66.7 percent passer, has back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons and tossed just seven interceptions last year. Renner could rewrite the North Carolina record books when it's all said and done.
7. Kolton Browning, UL Monroe
Browning began the season a year ago with a bang, by leading UL-Monroe to a massive road upset of Arkansas. He went on to lead the Sun Belt in total offense (294.7 ypg) and pushed the Warhawks to a 6-2 conference record. The eight-win season was the most for ULM since a nine-win 1993 campaign. He enters his final season as a four-year starter with 8,060 yards and 60 TDs passing with 1,316 career rushing yards and 16 more scores on the ground.
6. Jeff Driskel, Florida
The Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty prospect was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation in 2011. He saw action in just five games as a freshman but as a sophomore, the burly 6-foot-4, 240-pounder settled in as the starter. Driskel is entering his second season as the unquestioned starter and it should be his best. He brings an elite level of athleticism — his 177 yards rushing against Vanderbilt is a school record for a quarterback — and is at his best on the run, out of the pocket and improvising. So if he can learn to play more consistent and efficient football within the confines of the designed offense, he could blossom into one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks.
5. Kain Colter, Northwestern
In 13 games last season, Colter threw for 872 yards and eight touchdowns, rushed for 894 yards and 12 scores and caught 16 passes for 169 yards. Yes, he will split time with Trevor Siemian but few players are as dynamic and productive as Colter. Northwestern is coming off a 10-win season and a bowl win for the first time in school history and is poised for a run at a Big Ten title because of Colter's leadership and athletic ability.
4. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw won’t wow anyone with elite passing talent or overall accuracy, but he brings so much more to the offense than just throwing the football. He boasts a school-record 17-3 record as a starter — which is better than Johnny Manziel and Aaron Murray — and brings an unquestioned level of toughness to the huddle. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder also has an uncanny ability to extend plays with his legs. Backup Dylan Thompson is a more polished passer and Steve Spurrier has made it clear that both will play this fall, but Shaw’s leadership and toughness makes him the starter in Columbia. An underrated starter at that.
3. Kevin Hogan, Stanford
It took eight games but David Shaw found his replacement for Andrew Luck when he inserted the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder into the lineup a few plays into the Colorado game. Hogan proceeded to lead the Cardinal to a 6-0 record to end the season — including the school’s first Rose Bowl win since 1972 — with efficient and dynamic play under center. He passed for 1,096 yards on 71.7 percent passing with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions while providing a spark on the ground with 263 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Should some pass-catchers develop around him, Hogan could be in for a huge season in 2013.
2. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
Kelly was one of the Pac-12’s biggest surprises last season, as he went from third on the depth chart after spring practice to starter by the first game. The Idaho native finished the season with 3,039 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, along with 516 yards and one score on the ground. He also ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency. Kelly tossed only nine picks and went without an interception in each of the final three games. With an offseason to work as the No. 1 starter, look for Kelly to improve and challenge for All-Pac-12 honors.
1. Stephen Morris, Miami
A mid-level local recruit, Morris blossomed as a junior in 2012. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder set a Miami single-season total offense record (3,415) as well as the ACC’s all-time single-game record with 566 yards against NC State. Morris proved to be dependable as well, tossing just seven interceptions in a school-record 421 attempts. With the youth developing around him and the running game improving, the Hurricanes gunslinger is poised for a big senior season this fall.