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New Quarterbacks Across the FCS

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All hope seems to be lost with many college football fans when a successful starting quarterback graduates from their favorite team.

FCS

Related: 10 FCS Quarterbacks to Watch in 2016

They tend to forget many programs have five or six signal-callers. No doubt more than one is capable of being the No. 1 QB.

Change at quarterback is necessary, but it doesn’t always have to be evil. A plan is generally in place long before graduation day.

Here are the expected answers for 12 strong FCS programs which are replacing their starting quarterback:

Bethune-Cookman

QB Lost: Quentin Williams (All-MEAC first team)

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QB Answer: Larry Brihm (R-Jr.), Arkevious Williams (So.) or Anthony Cruz (Jr.)

What to Know: Quentin Williams led the FCS in passing efficiency last season and played extensively over his four seasons, but the MEAC power doesn’t rely on just one quarterback. The last two seasons, Brihm saw plenty of playing time. But the athletic Arkevious Williams has impressed and the 6-foot-5 Cruz is in from Globe Tech. Expect some mixing and matching.

Chattanooga

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QB Lost: Jacob Huesman (three-time All-Southern Conference offensive player of the year)

QB Answer: Alejandro Bennifield (R-Jr.)

What to Know: Count Mocs head coach Russ Huesman among the many who believe the three-time defending SoCon champs can replace his highly decorated son, Jacob. A left-hander, Bennifield has a strong arm and runs well (7.4 ypc on 19 attempts last season). He also is a punter.

Coastal Carolina

QB Lost: Alex Ross (All-Big South first team)

QB Answer: Josh Stilley (R-So.) or Chance Thrasher (R-Fr.)

What to Know: The Chanticleers are transitioning to the FBS level with an FCS independent schedule this season. The leading candidates to replace Ross are coming off injuries: Stilley (foot), last year’s backup, and Thrasher (arm), who was touted coming out of high school. Stilley is further along in his recovery.

Grambling State

QB Lost: Johnathan Williams (SWAC offensive player of the year)

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QB Answer: DeVante Kincade (R-Jr.)

What to Know: Former Ole Miss third-string quarterback Kincade should step into the starting job after recovering from a broken foot (yes, pun intended). A 4-star quarterback prospect coming out of high school, Kincade is a dual threat, much like Williams.

Harvard

QB Lost: Scott Hosch (Ivy League offensive player of the year)

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QB Answer: Joe Viviano (Sr.)

What to Know: Viviano was in the running for the starting job last season before he suffered a broken foot in preseason camp. He is a good passer and is mobile for his 6-foot-5 size. But he’s hardly played during his Havard career, so he might have some early rust. Sophomore Tom Stewart is the other candidate.

Illinois State

QB Lost: Tre Roberson (All-Missouri Valley first team)

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QB Answer: Jake Kolbe (R-So.)

What to Know: There’s reason for Illinois State coaches to be upbeat despite the loss of Roberson, who led the Redbirds to the 2014 FCS championship game. They got a good look last season at Kolbe, who won his only start – a win – over Missouri Valley power Northern Iowa, and saw action against Iowa and Richmond. Kolbe is a pocket passer who will be surrounded by a veteran offense.

James Madison

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QB Lost: Vad Lee (CAA Football offensive player of the year)

QB Answer: Bryan Schor (R-Jr.) or Mack Waldman (R-So.)

What to Know: Schor made last year’s final four starts (going 2-2) after Lee was lost to a season-ending injury in October. He played efficiently in a difficult spot. But new head coach Mike Houston added Waldman from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, so Schor likely has to be looking over his shoulder.

Liberty

QB Lost: Josh Woodrum (All-Big South second team)

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QB Answer: Stephon Masha (R-Jr.)

What to Know: Despite replacing a four-year starter in Woodrum, the Flames feel good about Masha. He was the starter in the 2014 win over Coastal Carolina that got them into the FCS playoffs for the first time. He has completed 44 of his 58 career attempts and can scramble out of trouble.

McNeese State

QB Lost: Daniel Sams (All-Southland second team)

QB Answer: Grant Ashcraft (R-Jr.)

What to Know: Ashcraft backed up Sams last season as the Cowboys won the Southland title. He is a different style quarterback, standing tall in the pocket at 6-foot-6, 219 pounds, while Sams was more of a running signal-caller. First-year head coach Lance Guidry, promoted from defensive coordinator, got a long look at Ashcraft in practices and liked what he saw.

Montana State

QB Lost: Dakota Prukop (All-Big Sky second team)

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QB Answer: Tyler Bruggman (R-Jr.)

What to Know: With Prukop following in former Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams’ footsteps as a graduate transfer to Oregon first-year Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate needed a quality get of his own. In stepped Bruggman, who’s already at his fourth school (2013 at Washington State, ‘14 at Louisville and last season at Scottsdale [Ariz.] Community College). He impressed with his leadership during spring practices.

Sam Houston State

QB Lost: Jared Johnson (Southland Conference offensive player of the year)

QB Answer: Jeremiah Briscoe (R-Jr.)

What to Know: It’s possible the Bearkats offense, the national leader in total offense, can be better despite losing Johnson to a graduate transfer (UTSA). Briscoe, who arrived from UAB last year, surpassed Johnson during the postseason last season, throwing for 1,012 yards and eight touchdowns in four playoff games. Coach K.C. Keeler prefers a pro-style QB like Briscoe.

Southern Illinois

QB Lost: Mark Iannotti (All-Missouri Valley first team)

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QB Answer: Josh Straughan (Graduate Transfer)

What to Know: FCS programs don’t just lose graduate transfers, they gain some. Josh Straughan arrived from Stillman College, where he passed for 5,470 yards and 53 touchdowns. He extends plays, which Iannotti did while leading the FCS in total offense last season. First-year head coach Nick Hill’s top returning candidate is big-armed redshirt sophomore Sam Straub.

— 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.

(Top photo by Chattanooga Athletics)