When a college football quarterback is evaluated, intelligence is a major factor in assumed success. Having a guy leading the offense who can grasp concepts easily and understand an offense quickly is always a plus.
Having a high level of scholastic aptitude doesn’t always translate to positive results on the football field, especially since school smarts and football smarts don't always go hand in hand, but pointing out the smartest quarterbacks in college football is still an endeavor worth exploring.
Using factors like having declared major, completing a degree early and college rankings according to the U.S. News and World Report’s latest edition, determining the top minds calling the shots in college football may bring surprises with some of the talent found on the list.
As the 2012 season approaches, here are the top 10 minds making audible calls this fall.
Obviously, the quarterback for Duke is going to make the top 10 list for intelligent quarterbacks. Sean Renfree is a preseason Davey O’Brien watch list member and has been moderately successful quarterback in his time in Durham, N.C.
Renfree has been an Academic All-ACC choice two seasons in a row and has graduated with a degree in public policy studies. Renfree is now pursuing his masters in humanities as he plays out his final season with the Blue Devils.
Duke is listed as the No. 10 school in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Kain Colter was a stud offensive player for the Wildcats last season. He played both receiver and quarterback, filling whatever role the coaches needed him to take on.
Colter first saw time as a true freshman in a backup quarterback role and has since been an impact leader for the Wildcats offense. Colter is a psychology major at the No. 12 school on the U.S. News and World Report list.
The Northwestern psychology department is one of the most highly regarded programs of its kind in the country. Perhaps his schooling can help him read defenses and predict what the opponent may be thinking.
Taylor McHargue earned the starting job for the Owls prior to the 2010 season and has been a consistent player from quarterback in the past two years despite battling nagging injuries.
McHargue is a sports management major at Rice, ranked the No. 17 school in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
The Rice Owls are not known for their success on the football field, but they have a strong presence in academia. It is a tough job to play quarterback while battling through injuries, playbooks and a top-20 scholastic program.
The Vanderbilt Commodores pride themselves in playing tough football, but they also are one of the most highly regarded institutions in the SEC—for good reason.
U.S. News and World Report lists Vanderbilt as the No. 17 school in the country—tied with Rice.
Jordan Rodgers has risen up the ranks in Vanderbilt to go from JUCO star to SEC starter in the past two seasons. Rodgers is on schedule to complete his degree in human organizational development this December and has been a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection.
Interesting fact of note—his brother is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Matt Barkley is not only one of the most elite quarterback talents in the country, but he is easily one of the smartest as well.
USC is ranked 23rd in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Barkley is a communications major at USC and currently carries a 3.23 GPA, according to USC's official website. He also has made the 2011 and 2010 Pac-12 (formerly Pac-10) academic teams.
Tanner Price is the presumed starting quarterback for the Demon Deacons heading into the 2012 season.
Price is a rising junior and economics major who is also pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship and social enterprise, according to the Wake Forest athletics website.
Price was named to the Academic All-ACC team this past season. Wake Forest is ranked as the No. 25 school in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Mike Glennon is the starting quarterback for the N.C. State Wolfpack. Glennon started his first season in Raleigh by throwing for 31 touchdowns in 2011—the single-season total is second to only Philip Rivers for most in school history.
Glennon also finished his degree in the 2011 season and entered a graduate program at N.C. State for the coming season. Glennon was listed as an Academic All-ACC member for his academic prowess and was one of six members of the list that attained his degree after last season—he graduated in business administration.
N.C. State is currently ranked No. 101 by U.S. News and World Report.
Dayne Crist transferred to Kansas this season, following his former coach Charlie Weis to the land of the Jayhawks.
Crist is the de facto starter heading into the 2012 season and is one of the most intelligent signal-callers playing the game this coming season. Crist started his career at Notre Dame and completed his degree there, so he's heading to Kansas as a graduate student.
Case McCoy is currently embattled in a starting quarterback race at Texas, but one thing has already been determined about the younger brother of Colt McCoy—he is tops in his class as far as academics are concerned.
McCoy is an education major at Texas. UT is the No. 45 school in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Matt McGloin will go about the tough task of attempting to rebuild a program at Penn State this season. McGloin is a senior leader on the team and one of the marquee players that stood by the team after the NCAA sanctions were released.
During his time at Penn State, McGloin has been inconsistent on the football field but very consistent in the classroom.
He has already graduated with a degree in journalism and is slated to earn his second degree in telecommunications this December.
Penn State is ranked the No. 45 school in the country by U.S. News and World Report.