FCS Football: Top 10 Quarterbacks to Watch in 2019
It's a sign of the times that many of the top returning quarterbacks in FCS college football have the description of being a "dual-threat."
Most signal-callers today beat the opposition with their throwing arm or legs — many times both.
Of course, that's why they’re playing the sport's most important position, and leading their teams to victories.
Following is a countdown of the best of the best in the FCS — a top 10 and a list of other quarterbacks not far from joining them.
— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.
10. Noah Johnson, Alcorn State
2018 Statistics: 197-for-317 (62.2 percent), 2,207 yards, 15 TDs, 9 INTs, 130.56 QB efficiency; 1,080 yards, 11 TDs rushing (13 games)
What to Know: As a freshman, Johnson accounted for eight touchdowns in a 2016 game, but he wasn't entrenched at No. 1 until last season, when he was named SWAC offensive player of the year and earned offensive MVP honors in Alcorn's win in the conference championship game. He has a strong arm and can be lightning on scrambles, leading all FCS quarterbacks in rushing yards per carry (7.5) as a junior.
(Photo courtesy of Alcorn State Athletics)
9. Ryan Boyle, Indiana State
2018 Statistics: 128-for-205 (62.4 percent), 1,627 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs, 145.5 QB efficiency; 610 yards, 6 TDs (10 games)
What to Know: Boyle transferred from Iowa last year and started Indiana State’s final nine games, going 6-3 for a team that was winless in 2017. He accounted for a school-record seven touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) in a triple-overtime win against South Dakota. Named the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s newcomer of the year, he plays with a high level of energy.
(Photo courtesy of Indiana State Athletics)
8. Chase Fourcade, Nicholls
2018 Statistics: 214-for-352 (60.8 percent), 2,930 yards, 21 TDs, 8 INTs, 145.86 QB efficiency; 659 yards, 13 TDs rushing (13 games)
What to Know: The nephew of former NFL quarterback John Fourcade is a student of the game and a perfectionist, which explains why he won the 2018 Southland Conference player of the year award. A fourth-year starter, he has excellent command of the Nicholls offense and keeps improving as a passer.
(Photo courtesy of Nicholls Athletics)
7. Caylin Newton, Howard
2018 Statistics: 156-for-304 (51.3 percent), 2,629 yards, 22 TDs, 17 INTs, 136.66 QB efficiency; 504 yards, 4 TDs rushing (10 games)
What to Know: Not having his older brother Cam’s size hasn’t stopped Caylin Newton from emulating him. He orchestrated the largest point-spread upset in history (UNLV, a 45.5-point favorite) in his first game as a true freshman and was the MEAC offensive player of the year as a sophomore. He sees the field well, but needs to cut down on interceptions (29 in career).
(Photo courtesy of Howard Athletics)
6. Case Cookus, Northern Arizona
2018 Statistics: 24-for-34 (70.6 percent), 265 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 143.71 QB efficiency
What to Know: We've been here before with Cookus coming off an early season-ending injury for the second time in three years. The 2015 Jerry Rice Award winner, who set the FCS record for touchdown passes by a freshman (37), stands tall in the pocket and works the field. He has thrown for 74 TDs against only 14 interceptions in his career.
(Photo courtesy of Northern Arizona Athletics)
5. Eric Barriere, Eastern Washington
2018 Statistics: 190-for-311 (61.1 percent), 2,450 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, 146.95 QB efficiency; 613 yards, 8 TDs rushing (14 games)
What to Know: Barriere took over as Eastern Washington's starter in the sixth game last season and helped the Eagles reach the FCS championship game. He set a playoff record with seven touchdown passes against Maine. The epitome of a dual-threat quarterback, he gobbles up rushing yards with long strides.
(Photo courtesy of Eastern Washington Athletics)
4. Zerrick Cooper, Jacksonville State
2018 Statistics: 251-for-417 (60.1 percent), 3,416 yards, 32 TDs, 14 INTs, 147.6 QB efficiency; 366 yards, 6 TDs rushing (13 games)
What to Know: Blessed with superb physical attributes, the Clemson transfer played with consistency in his first season at JSU, setting school records for passing yards and touchdown passes. He is known for his powerful throwing arm. On track to graduate in December, Cooper will be eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft.
(Photo courtesy of Jacksonville State Athletics)
3. Tyrie Adams, Western Carolina
2018 Statistics: 188-for-300 (62.7 percent), 2,417 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs; 1,006 yards and 10 TDs rushing (11 games)
What to Know: Entering his fourth season as a starter, Adams is the FCS active career leader in total offense (9,399 yards). The shotgun QB will stay in the pocket to throw downfield, but he’s lanky with a quick step to reach the second level as a dynamic runner.
(Photo courtesy of Western Carolina Athletics)
2. Tom Flacco, Towson
2018 Statistics: 269-for-439 (61.3 percent), 3,251 yards, 28 TDs, 11 INTs, 139.5 QB efficiency; 742 yards and 4 TDs rushing (12 games)
What to Know: The 2018 CAA Football offensive player of the year accounted for more total offensive yards (332.8 per game) than any returning FCS quarterback. Joe Flacco's younger brother was a 2014 draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies and spent time at Western Michigan and Rutgers before he enrolled at Towson as a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility remaining. He runs a no-huddle offense and extends drives with his athleticism and accurate passing.
(Photo courtesy of Towson Athletics)
1. Jake Maier, UC Davis
2018 Statistics: 364-for-557 (65.4 percent), 3,931 yards, 34 TDs, 10 INTs, 141.19 QB efficiency; 3 TDs rushing (13 games)
What to Know: Maier guided UC Davis to its best FCS season last year. He followed wide receiver Keelan Doss as the Big Sky Conference offensive player of the year, but in 2019 he will no longer be able to connect with the leading Division I pass catcher of the past two seasons. Originally a Sacred Heart commit intending to play on the other coast, the Long Beach City (Calif.) College transfer has a quick release and is accurate enough to throw into traffic. Despite the loss of Doss, a strong offense returns around Maier, who passed for more yards and touchdowns than any returning FCS signal-caller.
(Photo courtesy of UC Davis Athletics)
Other Returning QBs to Watch:
Luke Anthony, Abilene Christian, Jr.
Grant Breneman, Colgate, Jr.
Davis Cheek, Elon, Jr.
Chris Ferguson, Maine, Jr.
Jacob Knipp, Northern Colorado, Sr.
Jeremiah Oatsvall, Austin Peay, Jr.
Daniel Santacaterina, Southeast Missouri, Sr.
Austin Simmons, South Dakota, Sr.
Daniel Smith, Campbell, Jr.
Dalton Sneed, Montana, Sr.
Ryan Stanley, Florida A&M, Sr.
Kevin Thomson, Sacramento State, Sr.
(Davis Cheek photo courtesy of Elon Athletics)