Quarterback play in the Mountain West remains relatively strong despite the loss of a first-round pick in the NFL Draft (Josh Allen), along with the league’s top passer from 2017 (Nick Stevens). Boise State’s Brett Rypien ranks as the Mountain West’s No. 1 quarterback, as the senior guides a team poised to rank in the top 25 of many preseason polls. Nevada’s Ty Gangi, Fresno State’s Marcus McMaryion, San Diego State’s Christian Chapman and UNLV’s Armani Rogers headlines the next tier of quarterbacks.
To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2018. 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, 2018 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Mountain West for 2018.
Ranking the Mountain West's Quarterbacks for 2018
12. Cole McDonald, Hawaii
Dru Brown’s decision to transfer to Oklahoma State leaves a wide-open battle under center for the Rainbow Warriors. McDonald worked as Brown’s backup last fall and connected on 5 of 9 throws for 22 yards and a touchdown. He also added 138 yards and one score on 16 carries. While McDonald owns the edge in experience, incoming freshmen Jeremy Moussa and Chevan Cordeiro are two names to watch this offseason.
11. Josh Love, San Jose State
San Jose State is looking for better play out of its quarterbacks after a 2-11 record last year. Montel Aaron led the team with 1,531 passing yards and eight scores through the air, but Josh Love (928 yards) also received extended snaps. This duo is in the mix for the starting job again this offseason, along with redshirt freshman Terrell Carter. Any of these three quarterbacks could start in 2018.
10. Tyler Vander Waal, Wyoming
Josh Allen leaves big shoes to fill in Laramie this offseason. Nick Smith began the offseason as the favorite due to his experience as Allen’s backup, but Vander Waal closed the gap and eventually took the No. 1 spot on the post-spring depth chart. The former three-star prospect took a redshirt year last fall and finished the spring by completing 15 of 23 passes for 129 yards in the Gold vs. Brown game.
9. Tevaka Tuioti, New Mexico
After utilizing the option under former coordinator Bob DeBesse, new coordinator Calvin Magee is moving the Lobos to more of a spread attack in 2018. And the former Arizona coordinator has three candidates vying for the starting job, with Tuioti holding an edge in experience over Coltin Gerhart and junior college transfer Sheriron Jones. Tuioti connected on 57 of 118 passes for 705 yards and four touchdowns to six interceptions last fall. He also added 142 rushing yards and a score. Jones – a former Tennessee quarterback – spent 2017 at Mt. San Jacinto and threw for 2,162 yards and 17 touchdowns. His progress is worth monitoring in the fall.
8. K.J. Carta-Samuels, Colorado State
Coach Mike Bobo was forced to tap into the graduate transfer ranks after Collin Hill reinjured his knee this spring. Hill suffered a torn ACL in 2016 and took a redshirt year last fall to recover. He was slated to replace Nick Stevens but may miss the entire 2018 campaign. With Hill’s status uncertain, Bobo was able to land Carta-Samuels as a graduate transfer from Washington. Carta-Samuels was originally slated to go to UCLA but landed in Fort Collins with an opportunity to start. The California native made one career start in three years at Washington and connected on 27 of 47 attempts for 310 yards and three scores in that span.
7. Jordan Love, Utah State
Love showed promise in his first opportunity for snaps. After working as Kent Myers’ backup through the first seven games, Love assumed the starting job for the final six contests. He guided the Aggies to a 3-3 record in that span and finished the year with 1,631 passing yards and eight touchdowns, along with 165 rushing yards and two scores. Love tossed six interceptions, but three of those came against Wyoming – one of the league’s best defenses. In addition to minimizing mistakes, Love needs to raise his completion percentage after connecting on 54.9 percent last year.
6. Arion Worthman, Air Force
In a stat that should surprise no one, Air Force’s offense finished fourth nationally in rushing last fall. Worthman was a significant contributor to the ground attack, rushing for 821 yards and 13 scores. He also threw for 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns to just four picks. However, Worthman didn’t offer many big plays on the ground (3.8 ypc) and connected under 50 percent (49.5) on passes. If Worthman improves his execution of the option attack and provides more big plays, it would go a long way to helping Air Force avoid another losing record in 2018.
5. Christian Chapman, San Diego State
San Diego State possesses one of the nation’s top rushing attacks, so it’s no surprise Chapman averaged only 18.3 pass attempts a game in 2017. The California native has started 29 consecutive games for coach Rocky Long and threw for 1,873 yards and 13 scores last fall. Chapman has yet to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark as a passer, but he’s efficient and doesn’t make many mistakes. That’s the perfect formula for Long and the run-first offense by the Aztecs.
4. Armani Rogers, UNLV
Rogers might have the most upside of any quarterback in the Mountain West. The former three-star recruit showcased his potential last fall, nearly guiding UNLV to bowl eligibility and ranked fourth in the conference by averaging 225.1 total yards a game. Rogers threw for 1,471 yards and six touchdowns and ranked second on the team with 780 rushing yards and eight scores. Rogers is still developing as a passer, but he’s a dangerous option on the ground and will only get better with more snaps.
3. Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State
McMaryion was a key pickup for Fresno State in coach Jeff Tedford’s first year. The Oregon State graduate transfer threw for 2,726 yards and 14 touchdowns to only five interceptions. Additionally, McMaryion connected on 62.1 percent of his throws and tied for second among Mountain West quarterbacks by completing 10 passes of 40 or more yards. With the league’s top receiving corps at his disposal, McMaryion is poised to challenge for All-Mountain West honors in 2018.
2. Ty Gangi, Nevada
Gangi had an interesting 2017 season. He opened the year as the starter but lost the job to Kaymen Cureton for two games in September. However, Gangi regained the starting job and closed out 2017 as one of the Mountain West’s top quarterbacks. He threw for 2,746 yards and 25 touchdowns and connected on 61 percent of his passes. Gangi also added four scores and 180 yards on the ground. In conference-only matchups, Gangi led all Mountain West quarterbacks by averaging 283.8 passing yards a contest.
1. Brett Rypien, Boise State
With Rypien leading the way, Boise State is the early favorite to be the top Group of 5 team in 2018. The Washington native has assembled a prolific resume through his first three years on campus and will look to cap his career with another Mountain West title and a trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl. Rypien has earned all-conference honors in all three years on campus and has passed for 9,876 yards and 60 touchdowns in that span. Additionally, Rypien has eclipsed over 60 percent in completion percentage in all three seasons at the controls.