As much fan fare as the quarterback class in the 2017 NFL Draft acquired, the quarterbacks on the college football scene this upcoming season have generated even better buzz.
There are a number of excellent quarterbacks on the forefront. From an up-and-coming gunslinger leading Trojan country to a record-breaking passer in the Pacific Northwest to an immensely talented quarterback down in Athens, Georgia. To get you fully ready for the college football season, we break down the top college football quarterbacks to watch:
Jake Browning, Junior, Washington
No one expected the Huskies to be a participant in the College Football Playoff this past season and very little outside of Seattle expected Browning to be the conference leader in passing touchdowns and passing yards per attempt. Browning is a definite Heisman candidate after being sixth in the voting in the 2016 race. Browning and the Huskies will not be able to sneak up on anyone this season. The junior quarterback will have to crank it up a notch.
Jacob Eason, Sophomore, Georgia
All eyes are mainly going to be on the exciting duo at running back in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. However, if the Bulldogs are to have a season in which they win the SEC East and be a possible name in the College Football Playoff, Eason must take that next step in his progression. The true sophomore quarterback passed for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and he has three prime targets at receiver led by WR Terry Godwin. It’s possible that even as a sophomore, Eason may quite possibly be the best quarterback in the entire SEC.
Trace McSorley, Redshirt Junior, Penn State
An unexpected 2016 season in which the Nittany Lions ended up as Big Ten conference champions was thanks to a great run game, an opportunistic defense, and McSorley. During the team’s nine game winning streak last season, McSorley passed for 2,411 yards with 20 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Now McSorley enters the 2017 campaign as a possible Heisman candidate along with a Nittany Lion team that is a probable preseason top 10 squad.
Luke Falk, Redshirt Senior, Washington State
Falk raised a few eyebrows by declining the NFL Draft after an incredible 2016 season. By incredible I mean leading the Pac-12 conference in passing completions, completion percentage, passing yards, 2nd in passing touchdowns and 3rd in passing efficiency. If Falk were to play on the east coast or in a widely popular conference such as the Big Ten, more Heisman talk would surround his name. Make no mistake, Falk is one of the best in the entire country.
Sam Darnold, Redshirt Sophomore, Southern California
Darnold started the 2016 season on the sideline by being the backup to former Trojan Max Browne. Once Darnold was fully comfortable in early October, the Trojans produced a nine game winning streak to close out the season as Rose Bowl champions. For a guy who basically experienced his first season of collegiate ball, Darnold was uncanny as he passed for 31 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Whispers are starting to manifest that Darnold is a future top-5 selection once he enters. The Trojans are popular picks for the College Football Playoff and with the stellar play of Darnold, USC are definite championship contenders.
J.T. Barrett, Redshirt Senior, Ohio State
It seems as if Barrett has been in Columbus for more than just three seasons. The senior quarterback has been on a roller coaster ride during his career and now has his final season to leave a permanent mark. Barrett has yet to meet his standards set during the 2014 season but the veteran dual-threat has scored 100 touchdowns both passing and rushing in his three seasons as a Buckeye. Barrett has Heisman talent but he also has an unproven cast of receivers that will be interesting to watch as well.
Deondre Francois, Redshirt Sophomore, Florida State
Skeptics were present when Francois won the job and walked in to the 2016 season. When he passed for 419 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Ole Miss, Francois began to settle comfortably and help guide the Seminoles to an Orange Bowl victory over the Michigan. With no more handoffs to electric running back Dalvin Cook, more will be expected from Francois in order to keep the Seminoles in CFP contention.
Baker Mayfield, Redshirt Senior, Oklahoma
Mayfield has been manufacturing big plays consistently since he arrived in Norman prior to the 2015 season and the same is expected this year. Interestingly, he will have to do it without the services of former Sooners head coach Bob Stoops, who retired recently unexpectedly. In the past two seasons combined, Mayfield has 15 games of three touchdown passes or more and 13 games of 300+ passing yards. After the departure of the team’s top two leading rushers from last season, the departure of his top receiver and the transition of Stoops, the pressure is on Mayfield to be superior.
Lamar Jackson, Junior, Louisville
Speed kills. When watching Lamar Jackson display his electrifying skills week in and week out in 2016, it was obvious that his definition of speed was much different from opposing defenses. The youngest Heisman trophy winner in college football history now has a little more pressure on his shoulders as he has to follow up his historic season. It will be interesting see how Jackson handles the game now that he is high on the food chain. How can Jackson follow up a season in which he passed for 30 touchdowns, just nine interceptions, and a QB rating of 148.8?
Josh Rosen, Junior, UCLA
It was not that long ago that Rosen was the #1 prep quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class. After 19 games as a Bruin, Rosen has been solid but not great. That does not mean Rosen will not be great. The talent is there and he may very well be a Heisman candidate to watch this year. A shoulder injury limited Rosen to just six games last season but a healthy Rosen is a difference maker. Rosen has his top two receivers returning along with a chip on his shoulder (no pun intended) to guide the Bruins along.
Photo Credit – Eric Chan via Wiki Commons