Top 10 FCS Quarterbacks to Watch in 2017
The 2017 college football season could feature one of the deeper crops of quarterbacks in FCS history.
Record-setting Sam Houston State senior Jeremiah Briscoe is the reigning Walter Payton Award winner yet he will face heavy competition to remain on top.
The quarterback talent is so strong that a top 10 list leaves a second group of quality, decorated signal-callers on the outside looking in. Besides the following 10, the 2017 quarterback class in the FCS goes deep with Western Carolina’s Tyrie Adams, Fordham’s Kevin Anderson, Chattanooga’s Alejandro Bennifield, Villanova’s Zach Bednarczyk, Indiana State’s Isaac Harker, Central Arkansas’ Hayden Hildebrand, San Diego’s Anthony Lawrence, Gardner-Webb’s Tyrell Maxwell, South Dakota’s Chris Streveler and McNeese’ James Tabary. And then Princeton’s Chad Kanoff would start the next 10... you get the idea.
Here is the best of the best at QB in the FCS.
— 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. Peter Pujals, Holy Cross
2016 Statistics: 111-for-175 (63.4 percent), 1,110 yards, 10 TDs, 5 INTs
Pujals returns for a fifth season because his 2016 campaign was cut short after four games due to a left ankle injury. Excellent at placing the ball in catchable spots, he ranks second all-time at Holy Cross in career completions (833), pass attempts (1,366) and total offense (10,524); third in passing yards (8,919), completion percentage (61 percent) and touchdowns responsible for (84); and fourth in TD passes (67). He was the Patriot League’s rookie of the year in 2013, the second-team all-league quarterback in ‘14 and the first-team choice in ‘15.
(Photo courtesy of Holy Cross Athletics)
9. DeVante Kincade, Grambling State
2016 Statistics: 219-for-342 (64 percent), 2,999 yards, 31 TDs, 4 INTs; 264 rushing yards, 4 TDs
Kincade took the Southwestern Athletic Conference by storm last year, winning its offensive player of the year award in his first season after transferring from Ole Miss. He protected the ball well, leading the conference in passing efficiency (166.0) while also guiding Grambling to its first SWAC championship since 2011 and then to a victory in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The gritty leader stays in the pocket to find his receivers, but he’s effective on scrambles as well.
(Photo courtesy of Grambling State Athletics)
8. Easton Stick, North Dakota State
2016 Statistics: 169-for-288 (58.7 percent), 2,331 yards, 19 TDs, 9 INTs; 685 rushing yards, 7 TDs
North Dakota State quarterbacks don’t always receive enough credit for what they do because the surrounding talent is so high. Stick isn’t necessarily measured by statistics and honors, more by the fact he’s 20-2 as a starter. His leadership and ability to limit mistakes will keep NDSU’s five-time champ in the 2010s in the national title hunt. He is excellent on quarterback draws, averaging six yards per carry in his career. The Bison could ask him to take on a larger role as a passer this season, so he’ll look to improve his completion percentage.
(Photo courtesy of North Dakota State Athletics)
7. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
2016 Statistics: 220-for-349 (63 percent), 3,022 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs
Lauletta is returning from a torn ACL suffered in the final game of the regular season last year. He had already surpassed 3,000 passing yards for the second consecutive season and was hoping to lead Richmond on another deep run in the FCS playoffs, something backup Kevin Johnson went on to do. In 2015, Lauletta helped the Spiders win a share of the CAA Football title as well as reach the FCS semifinals for the first time since their 2008 national championship season. He is excellent on play-action and works the field well.
(Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics)
6. Bryan Schor, James Madison
2016 Statistics: 217-for-297 (73.1 percent), 3,002 yards, 29 TDs, 6 INTs; 569 rushing yards, 10 TDs
As a junior, Schor was outstanding while leading James Madison to the 2016 FCS national championship. The CAA Football Offensive Player of the Year led the nation in completion percentage (73.1), including a 21-for-22 performance against Rhode Island, and passing efficiency (186.2). He plays with an intelligent style and is mobile. Impressively, he helped the Dukes win road games against the second- through fifth-place teams in the CAA and then at the Fargodome against five-time reigning national champion North Dakota State in the playoff semifinals.
(Photo courtesy of James Madison Athletics)
5. Devlin Hodges, Samford
2016 Statistics: 375-for-530 (70.8 percent), 4,088 yards, 36 TDs, 8 INTs; 222 rushing yards, 4 TDs
Let’s put it this way: In his first collegiate start as a freshman two years ago, Hodges completed 42-of-61 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 94 yards and a score. He’s remained spectacular ever since. Hodges has a quick release and an efficient style, ranking second in the FCS in completion percentage (70.8) and third in completions per game (31.3) in 2016. Most of his sophomore statistics were Samford single-season records and the Southern Conference offensive player of the year blasted Mississippi State with 513 total yards.
(Photo courtesy of Samford Athletics)
4. Case Cookus, Northern Arizona
2016 Statistics: 80-for-119 (67.2 percent), 1,173 yards, 13 TDs, INT
Cookus is getting a medical redshirt for last season, which was cut short after four games because of a separated shoulder. He was performing at an elite level at the time of the injury, including a 13-to-1 touchdown-interception ratio and a 184.4 passing efficiency rating. In 2015, Cookus won the Jerry Rice Award as the FCS freshman of the year, passing for 3,111 yards and a freshman single-season record 37 touchdowns. He stands tall in the pocket while finding his downfield targets.
(Photo courtesy of Northern Arizona Athletics)
3. Taryn Christion, South Dakota State
2016 Statistics: 279-for-434 (64.3 percent), 3,714 yards, 30 TDs, 9 INTs; 335 rushing yards, 6 TDs
Christion teams with tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver Jake Wieneke to form a lethal South Dakota State passing attack. He set or tied 11 school records during the 2016 season while earning the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s offensive player of the year and third-team All-American honors. Elusive in the pocket, Christion plays with great composure, as evidenced by SDSU’s road upset of then-No. 1 North Dakota State last October (he earned national offensive player of the week).
(Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Athletics)
2. Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington
2016 Statistics: 386-for-570 (67.7 percent), 5,160 yards, 48 TDs, 14 INTs; 606 rushing yards, 5 TDs
A former walk-on, Gubrud (pronounced goo-brood) burst onto the scene in 2016, setting the FCS single-season record with 5,160 passing yards over 14 games. He helped Eastern Washington win a share of the Big Sky title and reach the FCS national semifinals. The dual threat has good foot speed (he led the team in rushing) and an even quicker release. He racked up a school-record 551 total yards with six total touchdowns in his first career start, the Eagles’ 45-42 win over Pac-12 member Washington State last September. The Big Sky co-offensive player of the year led the nation in total offense (411.9 ypg) and was second in touchdown passes (48).
(Photo courtesy of Eastern Washington Athletics)
1. Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State
2016 Statistics: 315-for-503 (62.6 percent), 4,602 yards, 57 TDs, 10 INTs
As a senior, Briscoe has a chance to become the second two-time winner of the Walter Payton Award (Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards won in 2008 and ’09). He set the FCS single-season record with 57 touchdown passes last season, all in Sam Houston State’s first 12 wins before the Bearkats lost to eventual FCS national champion James Madison in the playoff quarterfinals. He was second nationally in passing yards (4,602), passing yards per game (354) and passing efficiency (172.9). Briscoe transferred in from UAB after the Blazers’ program folded following the 2014 season and was a playoff standout in Sam Houston’s run to the ‘15 semifinals. All of his top receivers return this season.
(Photo courtesy of Sam Houston State Athletics)