The Mountain West is a league in transition when it comes to quarterback play for 2019. Utah State’s Jordan Love is the unquestioned No. 1 signal-caller in the conference, but the question marks begin at No. 2. Can Cole McDonald hold off Chevan Cordeiro for the starting job at Hawaii? UNLV’s Armani Rogers needs to develop as a passer and stay healthy to push for all-conference honors. Boise State, San Diego State and Fresno State – three out of the league’s top four teams – will have a new full-time starting quarterback this season.
Ranking the quarterbacks by conference or nationally is no easy task. To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2019. 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, 2019 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Mountain West for 2019.
Ranking Mountain West's Quarterbacks for 2019
12. Josh Love, San Jose State
Having a senior quarterback like Love should help San Jose State’s rebuilding effort in coach Brent Brennan’s third year at the helm. The California native has played in 29 career games and enters 2019 with 13 starts over the last two seasons. In his career at San Jose State, Love has connected on 55 percent of his passes for 3,283 yards and 21 touchdowns to 21 picks.
11. Tevaka Tuioti, New Mexico
After back-to-back 3-9 seasons, 2019 is a critical year for coach Bob Davie at New Mexico. The good news for Davie and new coordinator Joe Dailey: Tuioti and Sheriron Jones provide plenty of experience and talent to utilize at quarterback. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Tuioti completed 57 of 118 throws for 705 yards and four touchdowns to six picks and rushed for 142 yards and a score on 28 carries. Tuioti started three out of the first four games in 2018 but suffered a season-ending injury against Liberty. Prior to the injury, Tuioti threw for five touchdowns and 439 yards and posted 100 yards and a score on the ground.
10. Malik Henry, Nevada
Senior Christian Solano ended spring practice atop the depth chart for coach Jay Norvell. However, let’s roll the dice and project Henry as the quarterback who will take the most snaps for the Wolf Pack in 2019. Talent certainly isn’t an issue for the former Florida State signal-caller after ranking as a four-star recruit out of high school. However, can Henry put everything together and realize his potential in Reno? The spring game provided optimism, as Henry completed 16 of 28 passes for 211 yards. Assuming he wins the job, Henry should easily climb this list during the 2019 season.
9. Jorge Reyna, Fresno State
Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford has a strong track record when it comes to developing quarterbacks, so it wouldn’t surprise us if Reyna finished much higher on this list by December. The California native started his career at West Los Angeles College and used a redshirt year in his first year at Fresno State (2017). Reyna worked as the backup to Marcus McMaryion last fall, throwing for 111 yards on eight completions and rushing for 75 yards on nine attempts. The senior was named Fresno State’s starting quarterback for 2019 in late April.
8. Ryan Agnew, San Diego State
Rocky Long isn’t going to move away from a power rushing attack anytime soon, but the veteran coach has promised a few tweaks to his offense in 2019. Agnew started seven times due to an injury to starter Christian Chapman last season and threw for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also ran for 141 yards over 62 attempts. Junior college recruit Jordon Brookshire was recruited to add competition under center, but Agnew exited spring atop the depth chart.
7. Sean Chambers, Wyoming
Wyoming’s offense struggled to replace Josh Allen under center last season. Tyler Vander Waal started the first eight games, but the coaching staff gave Chambers a chance to spark the offense late in the year. The California native delivered a spark in his four appearances, rushing for 100 or more yards against Utah State, Colorado State and San Jose State. Chambers attempted just 25 passes in his four games but connected on 15 for 266 yards and three scores. Just how big of an impact did Chambers have on the offense? Consider this: Wyoming’s offense scored 30 or more points three times in 2018. Two of those came with Chambers at the helm.
6. Chase Cord, Boise State
Make no mistake: Replacing Brett Rypien isn’t going to be easy. However, Boise State has a strong track record of finding the next standout signal-caller, so it’s safe to assume coach Bryan Harsin will keep this offense performing at a high level in 2019. Cord, Jaylon Henderson and freshmen Kaiden Bennett, Riley Smith and Hank Bachmeier are all in the mix to replace Rypien. Cord ranked as a three-star prospect in the 2017 signing class and took a redshirt that year. The Arizona native played in four games last season, completing 6 of 9 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 109 yards and a score. Cord suffered a torn ACL in mid-October but is on track to return to full strength for 2019.
5. Donald Hammond III, Air Force
If you are looking for a breakout pick among Mountain West quarterbacks, Hammond is the one to watch. As a sophomore in 2018, Hammond played in nine games (with five starts), accumulating 374 yards on the ground and nine scores. He also completed 52.8 percent of his passes for 623 yards and five touchdowns to two picks. Air Force went 3-2 in Hammond’s five starts, which included a 35-7 victory over Navy.
4. Collin Hill, Colorado State
Hill has shown flashes of potential since he joined the team in 2016, but knee injuries have limited the South Carolina native to just 15 games. As a true freshman in 2016, Hill made five appearances (with four starts) and threw for 1,096 yards and eight touchdowns. After a redshirt year in 2017, Hill had to overcome knee surgery in March of 2018 to return to action that season. He played in 10 contests and started the last four games of the year last fall. Hill ended 2018 with 1,387 yards and seven touchdowns to seven picks. If Hill can stay healthy, his performance under center would be a boost for a Colorado State team looking to rebound from last season’s 3-9 record.
3. Armani Rogers, UNLV
A healthy year out of Rogers could be the difference between a bowl and a losing season for UNLV in 2019. The California native redshirted in his first season on campus in 2016 and was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year after a prolific debut in ’17. Rogers recorded 780 rushing yards and eight scores and threw for 1,471 yards and six touchdowns to five picks that season. A breakout season appeared to be in order for 2018, but Rogers suffered a foot injury in the fourth game of the year. He missed the next six contests before returning for the final two games of 2018. Rogers ended ’18 with 601 passing yards and 10 touchdowns and 565 yards and eight scores on the ground. The junior is still developing as a passer, but his athleticism and ability to make plays with his legs should help UNLV navigate a difficult schedule to make a push for a bowl in 2019.
2. Cole McDonald, Hawaii
McDonald ranks No. 2 among Mountain West quarterbacks for 2019 but isn’t guaranteed the starting job. That’s due to the continued development of Chevan Cordeiro, who impressed in a four-game stint as a freshman in 2018. Regardless of which quarterback wins the job, coach Nick Rolovich should have one of the nation’s highest-scoring offenses. McDonald threw for 3,875 yards and 36 touchdowns to 10 picks in his first year as the starter. He opened 2018 with back-to-back 400-yard performances and torched San Diego State for 452 in the regular season finale.
1. Jordan Love, Utah State
After a prolific 2018 season, Love ranks among the top returning quarterbacks for ‘19. Love started the final six games of 2017 and showed promise by finishing the year with 1,631 yards and eight passing scores. The California native started 2018 by throwing for 319 yards and nearly led Utah State to an upset win over Michigan State. The performances only got better the rest of the way, as Love posted six more games of 300 or more yards, including 491 versus San Jose State and 359 against North Texas. He ended the season with 3,567 yards and 32 touchdown tosses (both school records for most in a single year) and added seven additional scores on the ground.
(Main photo of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love courtesy of @USUFootball)