With fall camp starting for the entire world of college football a couple of days ago, we started our countdown to the 30 most intriguing quarterbacks of 2015 season. However, it was impossible to use 30 different schools, due to a few preseason quarterback battles taking place.
Within the countdown, there are quarterbacks trying to finish off a dominant career with a bang. Players like USC’s Cody Kessler have been flying under the radar, but the spotlight will be bright from the opening kickoff.
There are also high profile quarterbacks from less heralded programs. Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty threw 49 touchdown passes last season. He has the ability to lead Western Kentucky to new heights in 2015.
While those upperclassmen have solidified their status on campus, Everett Golson had to leave Notre Dame to recapture the magic from a few seasons ago. Golson finds himself in position to be the starting quarterback at Florida State. However, not every situation turns into a Russell Wilson blessing at Wisconsin. Sometimes, a transferring quarterback becomes Jacob Coker. With Coker having one year of eligibility left in his career, the Alabama Crimson Tide QB must make the most of his opportunity this season. Remember, he was the player battling Jameis Winston for the Florida State starting job in 2013.
Some quarterbacks just want to prove that they are the best player in the country. The only way Vernon Adams Jr. could do that was to transfer to Oregon. Adams played three years at Eastern Washington, but left to play on the highest level in his final season. If Adams earns the starting job, he will be facing his former team in Week 1.
There are also plenty of preseason Heisman candidates, like the three quarterbacks at Ohio State, or Trevone Boykin at TCU. Maybe Dak Prescott can lead Mississippi State to the SEC West title. If that happens, Prescott will be in the running all season long. However, recent years have shown that every quarterback is in the mix for a Heisman Trophy.
Here are the Top 30 most intriguing quarterbacks of the 2015 season.
30. Braxton Miller- Ohio State Buckeyes: We know Miller is more likely to play H-back and WR for the Buckeyes this season, but as his arm gets stronger, it’s hard to see Miller not getting any snaps at QB. Overall, Miller expects to have a big season for the reigning national champions.
29. Christian Hackenberg- Penn State Nittany Lions: So far, Hackenberg hasn’t had that sizzle at Penn State. There are plenty of reasons for that, but the junior QB has a chance to flourish this season. With better talent around the program, Hackenberg must deliver in a big way.
28. Gunner Kiel- Cincinnati Bearcats: Gunner Kiel exploded onto the scene with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The best is yet to come this season. Kiel is one of the best passers in college football.
27. Paxton Lynch- Memphis Tigers: Paxton Lynch is one of the tallest quarterbacks in college football. After throwing for 22 touchdowns last season, Lynch is ready for a huge season. He also had 13 rushing touchdowns.
26. Nate Sudfeld- Indiana Hoosiers: Nate Sudfeld hasn’t had a chance to put it altogether at Indiana. Injuries have curtailed a promising career, but he has one final shot to lead the Hoosiers to a Bowl game. Sudfeld is a career 60 percent passer and has 34 touchdowns to 13 interceptions.
25. Tommy Armstrong Jr.- Nebraska Cornhuskers: Tommy Armstrong Jr. has shown flashes of ability, but he’s also been erratic in the passing game in his first two seasons. As a duel threat QB, Armstrong holds the record for passing as a sophomore at Nebraska. With Mike Riley running the offense, Armstrong is expected to take a big leap this season. With 21 starts under his belt, Armstrong was also named captain for the Huskers.
24. Zach Terrell- Western Michigan Broncos: After becoming a starting QB midway through his freshman season, Zach Terrell really took off in 2014. As a sophomore he led the MAC in completion percentage (67.9), finishing with 26 touchdowns. He was also the MAC’s Distinguished Scholar Award winner in 2014. Terrell will be huge in 2015.
23. Maty Mauk- Missouri Tigers: Since coming to Missouri, Maty Mauk has been a mainstay in the Tigers’ lineup. After playing very well in relief as a freshman, Mauk led Missouri to a second consecutive SEC Championship game appearance last season. Still, his passing has been erratic at best over those two seasons. Last season, he threw for 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Let’s see what happens as Missouri goes for a third straight SEC East title.
22. Trevor Knight- Oklahoma Sooners: We don’t even know if Trevor Knight will be the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Baker Mayfield is breathing down his neck, and Knight has had a history of injuries. He’s also shown brilliant flashes of football, but they’ve been too far in between. Is this the year Knight puts it all together?
21. Brandon Doughty- Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: Brandon Doughty connected on 4830 yards and 49 touchdown passes last season. He is must-see TV for college viewers. He’s a 67 percent passer for his career, and is on every offensive award list imaginable. He famously threw eight touchdowns against Marshall, ruining a perfect season. Now will Western Kentucky go for it?
20. Kevin Hogan- Stanford Cardinal: After leading Stanford to consecutive PAC-12 titles, Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal had a down year in 2014. It had to be a tough blow for a player that’s built his reputation on winning. Hogan is a 65 percent passer in his career at Stanford, but he only has 48 touchdowns passes in three seasons. Don’t be surprised if Hogan shatters personal passing records in 2015.
19. Brad Kaaya- Miami Hurricanes: The Miami Hurricanes found a gem in quarterback Brad Kaaya. He had 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a freshman, and it’s just the beginning of a great career. Kaaya proved he’s way more than a ‘Bye Felicia’ meme, but can he take the Hurricanes to an ACC Championship this season?
18. Anu Solomon- Arizona Wildcats: Anu Solomon is another star that took control of the QB reigns from the opening snap as a freshman. He threw for 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season. He also led the Wildcats to a PAC-12 South title. Solomon is certainly a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy in 2015.
17. Justin Thomas- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Justin Thomas is a master at running the Georgia Tech triple option. After leading the Yellow Jackets to the ACC title game, Thomas wants a conference championship and more. He rushed for over 1000 yards, while passing for 18 touchdowns.
16. Jacoby Brissett- North Carolina State Wolfpack: Jacoby Brissett threw for 23 touchdowns and five interceptions last season. Brissett has the tools to become the best quarterback in the ACC. If that happens, the Wolfpack can shock many conference foes. Brissett has the mobility to control the pocket, and that frustrates opposing defensive lines more than anything.
15. Jacob Coker- Alabama Crimson Tide: Jacob Coker hasn’t had the career that he expected. However, he has a chance to change all of that in 2015. Last season, Coker was penciled in as Alabama’s starter, but he was unable to beat out Blake Sims. Still, he completed 64 percent of his passes during limited action. Is Coker ready to take Alabama to the national championship?
14. Dak Prescott- Mississippi State Bulldogs: Dak Prescott has gotten better every season at Mississippi State. He threw for 3449 yards on 61.6 percent passing. Prescott also threw for 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. If he continues on this progression, Prescott will be on the short list for the Heisman Trophy. However, he needs to be good enough to lead the Bulldogs to an SEC West title.
13. Malik Zaire- Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Fighting Irish are a sleeper to make the College Football Playoff. For that to happen, they need Malik Zaire to become one of the best quarterbacks in college football. He’s only thrown 35 passes in his career, with one touchdown, but he has the confidence of everybody in the Notre Dame program. Make no mistake, Zaire must produce early and often.
12. Everett Golson- Florida State Seminoles: Everett Golson was pushed out of Notre Dame, but landed in a nice spot at Florida State. Golson is in contention to win the starting job, but he’s starting off camp as the No.3 QB. Golson turned the ball over entirely too much for Brian Kelly. Thus he was blamed for all of Notre Dame’s struggles at the end of the season. Golson has a lot to prove, and the Seminoles may reap the rewards.
11. Connor Cook- Michigan State Spartans: Connor Cook could have entered the NFL Draft, but decided to stay at Michigan State for his final season. Cook is a career 58 percent passer, but plays primarily out of the pro style offense. For his career, he has 47 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. With a Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl victories under his belt, Cook is planning to get the Spartans into the College Football Playoff. Can he make the plays late in the fourth quarter to make it happen?
10. Taysom Hill- BYU Cougars: Taysom Hill was on his way to a strong Heisman campaign in 2014, then boom. A severe leg injury ended his season after five games, and BYU was never the same. After rushing for 10 touchdowns as a sophomore, Hill already had eight, and was ready to shatter his personal record. But it wasn’t the running that stood out last season. He was completing 67 percent of his passes before the injury. The only question is, will Taysom Hill get back to his prior form in 2015?
09. J.T. Barrett- Ohio State Buckeyes: J.T. Barrett started 12 games and won 11 of them. Any other time, that would be enough to keep the starting job. However, Ohio State’s QB situation is the most interesting in college football. The Buckeyes won the national championship without him, and he is coming off of a bad ankle injury. You can’t discount Barrett’s 34 touchdown passes, and 11 rushing touchdowns. If Barrett becomes the starter, expect huge numbers for the No.1 team in the country.
08. Seth Russell- Baylor Bears: Seth Russell has thrown 128 passes during his Baylor career. He also has 11 touchdowns in that short span. Despite the limited playing time, Russell could be the best quarterback to come out of Baylor on their recent run. He averages over 9 yards per pass attempt, while rushing for 5.9 yards per carry. Baylor loves big plays, and Russell is perfect for the system.
07. Joshua Dobbs- Tennessee Volunteers: Joshua Dobbs: Are we going out on the limb putting Joshua Dobbs this high? No. If Tennessee is going to win the SEC East, Dobbs will have to be one of the best players in the country. So far, he’s displayed talent, but hasn’t had the consistent time with the volunteers. He started four games as a freshman, and five games as a sophomore. However, Tennessee was (4-1) with Dobbs as a starter, and he is the unquestioned lead of the Volunteers. In addition, he’s as dynamic as any player in the country. Dobbs must correct his 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions though.
06. Jeremy Johnson- Auburn Tigers: Secretly, the Auburn Tigers have been patiently waiting to see what Jeremy Johnson has as a fulltime starter. Johnson has seen action in 13 games, but his dominant first half to open last season against Arkansas was phenomenal. He’s completing 73 percent of his passes, and has a 9-2 touchdown to interception ratio. Johnson hasn’t shown the propensity to run, but he might display his mobility this season.
05. Deshaun Watson- Clemson Tigers: The Clemson Tigers are picked to win the ACC over Florida State, and Deshaun Watson is the biggest reason why. With five starts under his belt, Watson completed 68 percent of his passes last season for 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Not only can he become the best quarterback in the conference, he can win every QB award as a sophomore. More importantly, Watson is the type of transcendent player to lead Clemson to a national title.
04. Cody Kessler- USC Trojans: Cody Kessler has completed 551 passes over the last two seasons. In 2014, he completed 70 percent of his passes, while dominating the opposition. He finished the year with 39 touchdown passes and five interceptions. If Kessler duplicates the success in 2015, USC could be PAC-12 Champions, and on their way to the College Football Playoff. He could also bring the second straight Heisman to the west coast.
03. Cardale Jones- Ohio State Buckeyes: Right now, Cardale Jones is not the favorite to start for the Buckeyes. Otherwise, he might be the No.1 player on this list. Jones only has three starts, but they were best first three starts in the history of college football. Jones makes an impact on and off the field, and it’s hard not seeing him get any run with the Buckeyes as a national champion QB. Jones has seven touchdowns and two interceptions in his career. However, he seems like a poised veteran for Ohio State. In addition, Jones probably has the strongest arm in the country.
02. Trevone Boykin- TCU Horned Frogs: If it wasn’t for a selection process, TCU might have been holding up the championship trophy last season. Trevone Boykin turned from a jack-of-all trades player into one of the most successful quarterbacks in college football. Boykin threw for 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ran for another 707 yards and eight touchdowns. Boykin is also known as the Heisman frontrunner entering the 2015 season. TCU should be ready for another magical season. Hopefully, they’ll be rewarded this time.
01. Vernon Adams Jr.- Oregon Ducks: How is a player from the FCS Eastern Washington Eagles the No.1 player on the list? Easy. Vernon Adams transferred to the mighty Oregon Ducks, replacing last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. First, Adams has to win the starting job. Then he has to defeat his former team. From there, he has to make Oregon forget about Mariota quickly. If everything goes as planned, Adams will crush the PAC-12 with his pinpoint passing game. He has one season to get the job done, while bringing Oregon a coveted national title. Don’t worry Vernon, there’s no pressure at all. Adams has 110 touchdown passes in his career.