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Ranking All 128 College Football Starting Quarterbacks for 2015

Cardale Jones

Cardale Jones

Quarterback play is always under the microscope for every college football team. Finding and developing a reliable starter isn’t easy for some programs, but for other schools, the next quarterback steps in and the offense doesn’t miss a beat.

With the 2015 season just days away, who has the best quarterback situations in college football? And which teams should be concerned? We ranked all 128 quarterbacks – with a few stipulations. This is not a list of career achievements or NFL Draft stock. Both of those elements were considered, but we also weighed value to the team, scheme, projection for 2015, recruiting background, talent and production so far. Anything you can think of to evaluate quarterbacks was used in this ranking. 


Ranking All 128 College Football's Starting QBs for 2015

1. J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones, Ohio State

Urban Meyer isn’t going to name a starter for the opener against Virginia Tech, and both players are likely to see snaps against the Hokies. Regardless of who starts or finishes a game, this is the best quarterback situation in college football.

2. Trevone Boykin, TCU

Boykin was arguably the most improved quarterback in the nation last season. He’s a Heisman frontrunner in 2015.

Related: Ranking the Top 15 Players in the Big Ten for 2015

3. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Prescott guided Mississippi State to just its third season of double-digit wins in program history in 2014 and earned first-team All-SEC honors. Prescott’s return for his senior year is a big reason why Mississippi State will remain a factor in the SEC West.

4. Connor Cook, Michigan State

Cook is 23-3 as a starter at Michigan State and will keep the Spartans in the mix for a playoff spot this fall. Cook is also regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in next season’s draft.

5. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Watson could rank among the top three quarterbacks on this list by the end of 2015. Injuries limited Watson to just eight games last season, but he finished with 1,466 yards and 14 passing scores.  

Related: College Football's Top 50 Breakout Players for 2015

6. Cody Kessler, USC

Kessler closed 2014 on a high note by recording nine touchdown passes over the final two games and at least 300 yards through the air in four out of the last five contests. Additionally, Kessler’s 69.7 completion percentage ranked third nationally. 

7. Jared Goff, California

Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid offense is in good hands with Goff at the controls. The junior is rising on NFL boards for next year’s draft after throwing for 3,973 yards and 35 scores last season.

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8. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn

High expectations surround Johnson. All signs point to a breakout year from the junior in coach Gus Malzahn’s high-powered offense.

9. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

Didn’t have the best sophomore season, but there’s no question about talent. Hackenberg needs more help from his supporting cast. 

Related: Ranking the Top 15 Big Ten Players for 2015

10. Taysom Hill, BYU

A leg injury sidelined Hill for the second half of 2014, but the senior is back at full strength this fall. While he’s always garnered attention for his rushing ability, Hill quietly showed marked improvement as a passer last year, completing 66.7 percent of his passes through five games.

11. Brad Kaaya, Miami

Kaaya was among the nation’s most impressive freshman quarterbacks in 2014, throwing for 26 scores and 3,198 yards. Expectations are even higher for the sophomore in 2015.

12. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech

Thomas was nearly flawless in his first season as the starter in coach Paul Johnson’s option attack. He led the team with 1,086 rushing yards and connected on 14 passing plays of 30 yards or more.

13. Marquise Williams, North Carolina

North Carolina’s defense has been an issue in recent years, but the offense should be among the best in the ACC once again. Williams slightly averaged under 300 total yards (296.6) a game in 2014 and recorded 34 overall scores.

14. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati

Kiel had a prolific debut as Cincinnati’s starter, throwing 14 scores in his first three games and finishing the season with for 3,254 yards and 31 touchdown tosses. With a loaded receiving corps, Kiel is poised for another huge year in 2015.

15. Jacoby Brissett, NC State

Brissett sparked a turnaround at NC State last season, guiding the Wolfpack to a five-win improvement in the win column. The Florida transfer tossed 23 scores to only five picks in 2014.

Related: Ranking the ACC's Top 15 Players for 2015

16. Keenan Reynolds, Navy

Reynolds is the perfect match for Navy’s option attack and has the Midshipmen among the favorites to win the American Athletic Conference this season. The Tennessee native has recorded back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards on the ground and has 54 rushing scores in that span.

17. Vernon Adams, Oregon

Adams could be the most intriguing quarterback in college football this season. Replacing Marcus Mariota won’t be easy, but the senior had a prolific career at Eastern Washington and should be a good fit in Eugene.

18. Brandon Doughty, WKU

Doughty shattered the WKU single-season passing record by throwing for 4,830 yards and 49 scores last year. The senior enters 2015 as the nation’s leading passer among active quarterbacks (7,800 yards).

19. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Rudolph had the redshirt removed in late November and started the final three games of 2014. A rising star in the Big 12 ranks.

20. Seth Russell, Baylor

Russell has only one career start, but coach Art Briles has a strong track record with quarterbacks and the supporting cast is among the nation’s best. The junior will try to become the fourth Baylor quarterback to throw for at least 4,000 yards in five years.

Related: College Football's Top 50 Breakout Players for 2015

21. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

Dobbs’ late-season emergence is a big reason why Tennessee is on the rise in the SEC East. 

22. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M

Allen faced a challenge for the starting job from talented freshman Kyler Murray, but the sophomore was named the No. 1 quarterback and should build off a promising end to the 2014 season (four touchdowns in the Liberty Bowl).

23. Anu Solomon, Arizona

Solomon was steady in his first year as Arizona’s starter and recorded 4,084 total yards and 30 scores. A leg injury slowed Solomon at the end of 2014. He should benefit from another year under coach Rich Rodriguez.

24. Mike Bercovici, Arizona State

Led Arizona State to a 2-1 record in three starts last season. Strong-armed senior should thrive in his first full year as a starter. 

25. Everett Golson, Florida State

Golson left Notre Dame after spring practice and will spend the final year of his eligibility at Florida State. After guiding the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the national championship in 2012, Golson was ineligible in 2013 and threw for 3,445 yards and 29 scores last season. Coach Jimbo Fisher picked Golson as Florida State's No. 1 quarterback on Monday. 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

26. Kevin Hogan, Stanford

Will Hogan pick up where he left off at the end of 2014? Over the last three games of last season, Hogan tossed only one interception and completed at least 70 percent of his passes in each contest. Here’s the most important stat for Hogan and coach David Shaw: Stanford went 3-0 in that stretch.

27. Malik Zaire, Notre Dame

With Everett Golson off to Florida State, Zaire is the unquestioned starter in South Bend. The sample size is limited, but all signs point to a huge year for the sophomore. 

28. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State

Knee injuries have sidelined Keeton for significant chunks of time in each of the last two seasons. Will the senior return to full strength and regain his form from 2012 (3,992 yards, 35 scores)?

29. Paxton Lynch, Memphis

Lynch was one of the nation’s most improved passers in 2014. After throwing for 2,056 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman, Lynch threw for 22 scores and 3,031 yards last season.

30. Blake Frohnapfel, UMass

Graduate transfer provided an instant boost for UMass’ offense last season. Frohnapfel’s season was cut short by a leg injury, but he threw for 3,345 yards and 23 scores and earned first-team All-MAC honors. 

31. Maty Mauk, Missouri

Mauk had his share of ups and downs in his first full year as a starter but guided Missouri to the SEC East title. Needs to improve completion percentage in conference games (48.9 last year).

32. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

The next star quarterback at Texas Tech? Mahomes tossed 14 scores over the final three contests last season.

33. Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State

Dynamic dual-threat quarterback led the Sun Belt by averaging 312 total yards per game last season.

34. Kevin Ellison, Georgia Southern

Ellison is sidelined for the first two games due to suspension this year. Led all Sun Belt quarterbacks with 1,082 rushing yards last season and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

Related: Sun Belt Predictions for 2015

35. Matt Johnson, Bowling Green

Johnson’s 2014 season was cut short after a hip injury in the opener. Expect a huge statistical season at the controls of coach Dino Babers’ “Falcon Fast” offense.

36. Zach Terrell, Western Michigan

Terrell led the MAC by completing 67.9 percent of his passes last season and should have a huge 2015 with one of the conference’s top receiving corps at his disposal.

37. Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska

How quickly Armstrong adapts to new coach Mike Riley and coordinator Danny Langsdorf will play a huge role in how high Nebraska climbs in the Big Ten West.

Related: College Football's Top 35 Running Back Units for 2015

38. Sefo Liufau, Colorado

Rising star for coach Mike MacIntyre after throwing 28 touchdowns and completing 65.3 percent of his passes in his first full year as Colorado’s starter.

39. Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh

Quietly closed 2014 on a high note, finishing with seven touchdowns to just one interception over final five games.

40. Brandon Allen, Arkansas

Won’t post huge numbers in Arkansas’ run-first offense but poised for his best overall season.

41. Patrick Towles, Kentucky

Towles was steady as a passer last season (2,718 yards, 14 passing scores) and added 303 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. New coordinator Shannon Dawson is tasked with taking Towles’ game to the next level.

42. Drew Hare, Northern Illinois

Hare is poised to emerge as the next star quarterback at Northern Illinois. Threw for 18 scores and added 900 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games last year.

43. Wes Lunt, Illinois

Talented passer but has yet to start for a full season. Missed nearly half of 2014 due to a leg injury but passed for 1,763 yards and 14 scores in eight games.

44. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana

Missed half of 2014 due to a shoulder injury. Sudfeld’s return should be a huge boost for Indiana’s bowl hopes in 2015.

45. Joe Licata, Buffalo

Licata is one of the nation’s underrated quarterbacks, passing for 53 touchdowns over the last two years. Should thrive under new coach Lance Leipold.

Related: College Football's 10 Most Underrated Quarterbacks for 2015

46. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

From walk-on at Texas Tech to earning the starting job at Oklahoma after leaving Lubbock, Mayfield has one of the most interesting backstories for a starter at the FBS level. Should be a good fit in new Oklahoma’s new offense under coordinator Lincoln Riley.

47. Travis Wilson, Utah

Returned from injury-shortened 2013 campaign to post career high in touchdown passes (18) last season. Working under new co-coordinators Jim Harding and Aaron Roderick this year.

48. Justin Holman, UCF

Emerged as a solid replacement for Blake Bortles last season and should take another step forward in 2015.

49. Skyler Howard, West Virginia

Junior college recruit showed promise as West Virginia’s starter at the end of 2014. Howard passed for 346 yards and three scores in the Liberty Bowl but needs to improve completion percentage (50.9 in 2014).

50. Reggie Bonnafon, Louisville

Bonnafon has yet to be named the starter, but the sophomore is the favorite to take the first snap of Louisville’s opener against Auburn.

51. Michael Brewer, Virginia Tech

Guided Virginia Tech to an upset win over Ohio State in early September but had an up and down debut. Should be better in his second season as the starter.

52. Josh Rosen, UCLA

There’s plenty of pressure on Rosen as a true freshman starter, but the five-star recruit isn’t lacking for confidence or talent.

Related: Pac-12's Top Freshmen to Watch in 2015

53. Greg Ward, Houston

Started the final eight games of 2014 at quarterback and should thrive under new coach Tom Herman - if he wins the job over Adam Schulz.

54. Jake Rudock, Michigan

Rudock is making the rare intra-conference transfer from Iowa to Michigan. Expected to beat Shane Morris for the starting job.

55. Sam Richardson, Iowa State

Richardson should benefit from another offseason under coordinator Mark Mangino. Quietly threw for 2,669 yards and 18 scores last year.

56. Tyler Jones, Texas State

Jones nearly led Texas State to its first bowl appearance last season, recording 3,209 total yards and 28 overall scores.

57. Taylor Lamb, Appalachian State

Emerging star in the Sun Belt helped Appalachian State close 2014 on a six-game winning streak.

58. Thomas Sirk, Duke

Sirk is coach David Cutcliffe’s next star quarterback. 

59. Phillip Ely, Toledo

Alabama transfer was off to a solid start (4 TDs, 541 yards) but suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 2.

60. Driphus Jackson, Rice

Jackson accumulated 3,243 total yards last season en route to leading Rice to its third consecutive bowl.

Related: College Football's 10 Most Underrated Quarterbacks for 2015

61. Mitch Leidner, Minnesota

Leidner is a good runner, but he has to progress as a passer for Minnesota to win the Big Ten West.

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62 Cooper Rush, Central Michigan

Rush turned in a solid sophomore campaign and finished the season with seven touchdown tosses in the 49-48 loss to WKU in the Bahamas Bowl.

63. C.J. Beathard, Iowa

Iowa coaches hope the switch to Beathard gives the offense more big-play ability.

64. P.J. Walker, Temple

Walker had a solid freshman season (20 TDs, 8 INTs) but regressed in 2014 (13 TDs, 15 INTs). A better supporting cast in 2015 should help.

65. Nick Arbuckle, Georgia State

Solid junior college pickup for coach Trent Miles in 2014. Arbuckle recorded three games of at least four touchdowns for the Panthers last season.

66. Cody Clements, South Alabama

UAB transfer should have a seamless transition to South Alabama with Bryant Vincent (last year’s coordinator at UAB) calling the plays.

67. Ryan Finley, Boise State

New starter at quarterback? That's usually no problem for the Broncos. Finley completed 12 of 27 passes for 161 yards and two scores last year and will be tested right away with matchups against Washington and BYU to start the season.

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

68. Jaquez Johnson, FAU

Johnson was a bright spot for FAU’s offense last year, recording 2,728 total yards and 17 passing scores in 11 games.

69. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech

Driskel’s career didn’t pan out at Florida, but he’s got one more opportunity after transferring to Louisiana Tech.

70. Jake Coker, Alabama

Alabama’s Week 1 starter is a mystery. However, Coker seems to hold a slight edge over Alec Morris and Cooper Bateman.

71. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

Kelly was named the starter by coach Hugh Freeze on Monday. The former Clemson passer and junior college product is an intriguing talent. Can he put it all together in 2015?

72. Will Grier, Florida

While Grier – a redshirt freshman and four-star recruit – is considered the favorite to start, Treon Harris will also see time in the opener. New coach Jim McElwain should help the offense take a step forward after managing only 24.9 points in SEC games last year.

73. Brandon Harris, LSU

LSU’s passing attack is in desperate need of a spark. Talent certainly isn’t the issue for Harris, and he showed improvement throughout the offseason.

Related: Ranking the SEC's Top 15 Players for 2015

74. Luke Falk, Washington State

Should post huge numbers in coach Mike Leach’s offense. However, Falk also needs to take better care of the ball (seven picks in last four games of 2014).

75. Matt Davis, SMU

Breakout candidate to watch in new coach Chad Morris’ high-powered offense.

76. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

Thorson was a huge catch on the recruiting trail for coach Pat Fitzgerald, ranking as a four-star recruit and the No. 188 overall player in the 2014 247Sports Composite. The redshirt freshman is an intriguing player to watch this fall.

77. Dane Evans, Tulsa

Evans had a nice statistical season last year (3,102 yards and 23 scores) and should thrive under new coach Philip Montgomery.

78. Tyrone Swoopes, Texas

Quarterback play will be under the microscope for Texas in 2015. Will Swoopes improve enough to hold off Jerrod Heard?

79. Terrel Hunt, Syracuse

Hunt never had a chance to build off a promising end to the 2013 season. A leg injury limited Hunt to just six games, while the rest of the Syracuse offense also had its share of issues. Despite playing in just six contests, Hunt finished 2014 as the leading passer for the Orange (983 yards).

80. Joel Stave, Wisconsin

Which Stave will Wisconsin get in 2015? The version that threw for 22 touchdowns and 2,494 yards in 2013? Or the one that struggled last year?

81. Perry Hills, Maryland

Hills started seven games for the Terrapins in 2012 but suffered a torn ACL and used 2013 as a redshirt. Edged Caleb Rowe and Daxx Garman for the job this fall.

82. Matt Johns, Virginia

Johns made three starts last season and edged Greyson Lambert for the starting job in spring ball. Willing to take chances downfield (seven passing plays of 30 yards or more) but also needs to raise completion percentage (54.9).

83. Nick Stevens, Colorado State

New coach Mike Bobo and coordinator Will Friend should keep Colorado State’s offense among the best in the Mountain West. Stevens only has 25 career pass attempts, but he has one of the best receivers in the nation at his disposal in junior Rashard Higgins.

84. Jack Milas, Ball State

Milas is a rising star to watch in the MAC this year. Threw for 1,302 yards and nine scores in six appearances in 2014.

85. John Wolford, Wake Forest

Wolford was placed into a no-win situation last season with a lackluster rushing attack and struggling offensive line. Threw for 2,037 yards and 12 scores in 12 games.

86. Darius Wade, Boston College

Promising sophomore with all of the necessary physical tools to thrive under coach Steve Addazio.

87. Jake Browning, Washington

Browning isn’t guaranteed to start the opener against Boise State. However, he’s the most talented quarterback on the roster.

88. Hayden Rettig, Rutgers

LSU transfer is slated to start the opener after Chris Laviano was suspended. Rettig ranked as a four-star recruit in the 2013 signing class.

89. Seth Collins, Oregon State

Collins and fellow freshman Marcus McMaryion will play in the opener against Weber State.

90. Greyson Lambert, Georgia

In a mild surprise, Lambert was picked as Georgia’s starter over Brice Ramsey. The Virginia transfer struggled with the Cavaliers last year (10 TDs, 11 INTs). 

Related: College Football's Top 10 Dark Horse Playoff Contenders for 2015

91. Nate Romine, Air Force

Air Force doesn’t have much trouble replacing starting quarterbacks under coach Troy Calhoun. Romine is an interesting player to watch, as he is regarded as a better passer than runner.

92. Max Wittek, Hawaii

Big-time pickup for Hawaii coach Norm Chow. Will Wittek live up to his recruiting hype this season? Could be much higher on this list by the end of 2015.

93. Maxwell Smith, San Diego State

Kentucky transfer returns home for last season of eligibility. Started 11 games with the Wildcats and should be an impact addition for coach Rocky Long.

94. Cameron Coffman, Wyoming

Indiana transfer should be an upgrade for Wyoming’s quarterback spot in 2015.

Related: Mountain West Predictions for 2015

95. Brooks Haack, UL Lafayette

Breakout candidate? Haack was solid in limited action last year (20 of 23 for 179 yards).

96. Michael Birdsong, Marshall

James Madison transfer has the tough task of replacing Rakeem Cato.

97. Connor Mitch, South Carolina

Mitch steps into the starting lineup under the watchful eye of coach Steve Spurrier. Keep an eye on true freshman Lorenzo Nunez

98. Lamar Jordan, New Mexico

Regarded as an excellent runner (612 yards last season), but Lobos hoping for more from passing attack. Junior college transfer Austin Apodaca – a better passer – is expected to see snaps in the opener.

99. Reginald Bell, Eastern Michigan

Promising sophomore emerged as playmaker for Eastern Michigan last season. Bell led the team with 562 rushing yards and threw for 409 yards in a loss to Ball State. Could be much higher on this list by the end of 2015.

100. Austin Appleby, Purdue

Purdue hopes to take a step forward in coach Darrell Hazell’s third season. The Boilermakers need better quarterback play to escape the Big Ten West cellar.

101. Brandon Silvers, Troy

New coach Neal Brown should help Silvers’ development. Threw for 1,836 yards and 11 scores last season.

102. Jesse Ertz, Kansas State

Mystery in Manhattan. Will Ertz, Joe Hubener, Jonathan Banks or Alex Delton start at quarterback? Ertz is the favorite to take the first snap and has yet to throw a pass on the FBS level.

103. Tanner Lee, Tulane

Lee had an up and down season as a freshman and did not throw a touchdown pass in the final three games after tossing eight in the first three weeks.

104. Nick Mullens, Southern Miss

Southern Miss is trending in the right direction under third-year coach Todd Monken. Mullens is also on the hot seat with TCU transfer Tyler Matthews also expected to play.

105. Brent Stockstill, MTSU

Son of the head coach (Rick Stockstill) edged Austin Grammer for the starting job this fall.

Related: Conference USA Predictions for 2015

106. Kyle Pohl, Akron

Will Pohl hold onto the starting job? Former Pittsburgh signal-caller Tra’von Chapman is making a push for snaps.

107. Derrius Vick, Ohio

Ohio’s passing attack needs a spark after managing only 11 passing scores last season.

108. Shuler Bentley, Old Dominion

Taylor Heinicke won’t be easy to replace, but Shuler – the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in South Carolina – is an intriguing replacement.

109. Alex McGough, FIU

McGough showed promise as a true freshman last season, throwing for 1,680 yards and 14 scores in 12 games. Should be better as a sophomore.

110. Tyler Stewart, Nevada

Inherits big shoes to fill in replacing Cody Fajardo.

111. Johnny McCrary, Vanderbilt

New play-caller Andy Ludwig should help a Vanderbilt offense that managed only 12.8 points in SEC games last year. McCrary is competing with Wade Freebeck for the No. 1 spot.

112. Quinton Flowers, USF

Beat Penn State transfer Steven Bench for the starting job this fall, only completed 8 of 20 passes for 111 yards last year.

Related: American Athletic Conference Predictions for 2015

113. Joe Gray, San Jose State

Gray finished 2014 as the starter, but junior college recruit Kenny Potter is making a push for the job this offseason.

114. Tyler Rogers, New Mexico State

Should have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball in 2015 (436 attempts last year) but needs to cut the interceptions (23).

115. Montell Cozart, Kansas

Pressed into starting role after Michael Cummings was lost for the year in the spring game. Has eight career starts.

116. Zack Greenlee, Fresno State

Greenlee started one game in 2014 and finished the year with 213 yards after completing 18 of 41 passes. Former West Virginia quarterback Ford Childress is also expected to see time for the Bulldogs this season.

117. Bryant Shirreffs, UConn

NC State transfer needs to spark a UConn offense that averaged only 15.5 points per game in 2014.

118. Colin Reardon, Kent State

Reardon has passed for 26 scores over the last two seasons and should benefit from the addition of Don Treadwell at coordinator and the return of Trayion Durham at running back.

119. Blake Decker, UNLV

Junior college transfer passed for 2,886 yards in his first season in Las Vegas.

120. Matt Linehan, Idaho

Getting receiver Dezmon Epps back, as well as another year of experience should help Linehan after he tossed 18 picks in 2014.

121. Andrew McNulty, North Texas

Three quarterbacks received snaps for the Mean Green last season. McNulty is expected to start over DaMarcus Smith this fall.

122. Blake Kemp, East Carolina

Projected starter Kurt Benkert suffered a torn ACL in fall practice. Kemp – a junior college transfer from Mesa Community College – is the new projected No. 1. He’s yet to throw a pass on the FBS level.

123. Mack Leftwich, UTEP

Started four games for the Miners in 2013 and used a redshirt year last season. Miners plan to lean heavily on one of C-USA’s best offensive lines and running back Aaron Jones.

124. Matt Johnson, Charlotte

49ers join the FBS ranks in 2015. Johnson threw for 1,941 yards and 13 scores before a season-ending knee injury.

125. Blake Bogenshutz, UTSA

Bogenshutz played in four games last season before taking a medical redshirt. Completed 8 of 14 passes for 82 yards against Oklahoma State in 2014.

126. Garrett Smith, ULM

Promising redshirt freshman topped senior Brayle Brown for the No. 1 spot this offseason.

127. Gus Ragland, Miami, Ohio

Redshirt freshman is locked into battle with Drew Kummer for the starting job.

128. Ahmad Bradshaw, Army West Point

Bradshaw did not play last season and passed A.J. Schurr for the top spot this offseason.