Top 20 Underrated College Football QBs Entering 2012 Season
The players on this list are much like a good marinade on the perfect steak.
They are overlooked, under-appreciated and sometimes lost in the shadows of greater talent and expectations.
Or maybe I'm just hungry.
Whatever the case, the guys who made this list all have earned the right to claim "underrated" status, even as overused and cliche as the term may be.
While others toil under lofty expectations and with plenty of hype and exposure, expect these guys to get it done without all the noise.
20. Matt Schilz, Bowling Green
What's 6'2", over 200 pounds and orange?
The man improved in 2011 on his numbers as a freshman, finishing last year with 28 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards passing.
Sure, 13 interceptions is not ideal, but given the lack of talent he has to work with and the numbers he put up last season, Schilz deserves some love going into 2012.
He is capable of making big throws down field and will only improve on his 2011 numbers in the upcoming campaign.
19. Colby Cameron, La. Tech
Cameron didn't begin starting at quarterback in 2011 until the Bulldogs' eighth game of the season.
They were 3-4 before his first start.
When the smoke had cleared on their conference-winning season, La. Tech was 5-1 with Cameron at the helm.
He has the potential to toss the rock for over 3,500 yards, especially with the best group of receivers in any of the "mid-major" conferences at his disposal.
In his six games last season, he had a 13-3 touchdown to interception ration and accumulated over 1,600 yards.
18. Brett Smith, Wyoming
Most of you probably haven't heard of this guy.
There is a reason for that: Wyoming is where people go to disappear.
For all we know, his name is really "Sasquatch" or "The Abominable Snowman."
I kid, I kid, but not many people know about this talented young guy.
As a freshman last season, Smith finished with 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while chipping in 10 on the ground.
Those numbers could get better, but he was a freshman, for crying out loud, let's not put too much pressure on him.
He finished last season with 2,622 yards passing, and you can fully expect at least the 3,000-yard mark for Smith in 2012.
17. Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
Scheelhaase has a long way to go, but he put up some solid numbers with not much help on the offensive side of the ball outside of wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.
He has the ability to do damage with either his legs or his arm and the strength to extend plays after contact.
With a fresh start (new head coach) and another year of experience under his belt, Scheelhaase has plenty of potential to put up some really big numbers for the Illini this season.
16. Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati
Having the best name in college football will get you a spot on any list I can manage to squeeze you into.
This means you, Munchie.
15. Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State
Aplin is a legit dual-threat quarterback with the tools to make you pay for mistakes.
In 2011, he scored 10 times on the ground, exhibiting plenty of moxie in the run game, with a 164-yard game and another in which he scored four times.
Besides all that good stuff, he is a very talented, although an erratic passer at times.
His numbers were very good last year, close to 3,700 yards passing, and he scored 19 times by strike through the air.
Those interception numbers will come down to about half of his 2011 total of 16, leaving us at a season with 35 total touchdowns and 4,000 yards through the air.
Pretty good numbers, by any standard.
14. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Bridgewater started only 11 games last season and was very impressive in his time at the helm for the Cardinals.
As a freshman last season, he led the Cardinals to a tie for first place in the Big East, finishing with over 2,100 yards through the air and scoring four times on the ground.
He needs some fine tuning, but as a young quarterback, his ceiling is extremely high.
13. Derek Carr, Fresno State
In case this name sounds familiar, Derek is following in the footsteps of older brother David at Fresno State.
David is currently playing for the New York Giants of the NFL.
But that's not Derek's main claim to fame; he's a high-caliber talent in his own right.
In his sophomore season last year, Carr threw 26 touchdowns to only nine interceptions and found his way into the end zone via the rush three more times.
He has a solid group of receivers and a manageable schedule in the MWC.
His 3,544 yards passing last season will increase to near 4,000 in 2012.
12. Riley Nelson, BYU
Nelson only started seven games for the Cougars last season, putting up more than respectable numbers and leading them to a double-digit win total.
Bronco Mendenhall's team has a very solid defense, good enough to help get the ball in Nelson's hands plenty of times in 2012.
Plenty of possessions will lead to production for him this season, as the Broncos again hit the 10-win mark with Nelson at the helm.
11. Seth Doege, Texas Tech
Doege performs extremely well in the Tech offense.
He put up over 4,000 yards last season, including a tremendous game against New Mexico in which he set the NCAA record for completion percentage.
While the touchdown numbers need to come up, in a conference that does not put a premium on pass defense, he has the opportunity to put up 4,500-plus yards this season.
10. Tyler Tettleton, Ohio
Tettleton is easily one of the most underrated passers in the nation.
In his first season as a starter last year, he seemed to get better as the season went on, and with the exception of the MAC title game, he did not have a bad game all season.
He willed the Bobcats to victory in the Idaho Potato Bowl, tossing two touchdown passes and scrambling in for the game winner on their closing drive of the game.
In that drive, he demonstrated poise and experience not common to quarterbacks everywhere, the kind of leadership skills that lead one to believe he has huge things in his future.
9. Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Bray put up solid but not spectacular numbers in 2011.
In seven starts, he threw for 1,983 yards and 17 touchdowns, which projects out to roughly 33 passing touchdowns and 3,500 yards passing over a whole season.
On top of that, the Vols had to deal with injuries to several playmakers last season, including Bray, and barring another rash of injury similar to that one, Bray will have some extremely dynamic weapons to which he can throw the ball.
He has the arm strength, footwork and smarts to make it in the SEC and put up big numbers. If he can stay upright and healthy, this season has the potential to be a special one.
8. Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Mike Glennon got no love last year taking over the helm of the Wolfpack, mainly because his teammates are, unfortunately, not as talented as he.
After taking over last season for the departed Russell Wilson, he surprised most of us by throwing more than 30 touchdowns.
With a year of starting experience to fall back on, Glennon is a threat to do some real damage against some of the weak ACC passing defenses and add to his already solid numbers.
7. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
After an offseason in 2011 that was filled with Ohio State news every other minute, it seems as if this offseason has been relatively boring.
Other than the hiring of Urban Meyer and his subsequent recruiting conquests, we haven't heard much in the news about the Buckeyes.
This team, in spite of its postseason ban, is loaded with talent.
Miller is definitely one of the most talented on the team, with the speed and vision to run the ball and the arm to make plays.
He's a little rough around the edges, but as a sophomore, he is going to take huge leaps forward in 2012, especially with Meyer at the helm.
6. Bryn Renner, North Carolina
Not many other quarterbacks put up over 3,000 yards in their first season as a starter last year, but Renner did, while scoring 26 times through the air.
The very definition of a "sleeper," Renner is overlooked left and right yet has the potential to play at an elite level and even sniff All-American status eventually.
Coupled with young running back Gio Bernard, Renner forms one of the most underrated backfields in the college game.
5. Collin Klein, Kansas State
The only player to score more times on the ground than Klein last season was Montee Ball.
Talk about underrated.
While his passing, at times, leaves a little something to be desired, no quarterback who scored 40 touchdowns can be ignored.
As a whole, the Wildcats are underrated, and Klein leads the charge for Bill Snyder's team as the least respected 40-touchdown quarterback in history.
4. Danny O'Brien, Wisconsin
Let's be frank.
Last season was one to forget for O'Brien, and he is under a ton of pressure to duplicate the enormous success that Russell Wilson enjoyed last season.
But take a closer look at this guy's numbers from his freshman campaign, because in 2010, you see a different story.
In a pro-style offense similar to that run by Wisconsin, O'Brien flourished, winning the ACC Freshman of the Year award while putting up 22 passing touchdowns to only eight interceptions.
On a Wisconsin team that is loaded with talent, if O'Brien wins the quarterback competition, he is going to be putting up some very respectable numbers.
3. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
Most fans that I have heard talk about Alabama do not focus on McCarron.
Rather, they like to remind us of the talent Nick Saban has recruited to replace his departed players on defense and the stellar rushing game which the Tide can boast.
McCarron gets tossed in like an afterthought.
The man that we were not even sure would be a starter last season deserves a little more respect than that—especially after a solid season highlighted by an excellent performance in the BCS title game.
McCarron is more than a "game manager." He is going to be an excellent playmaker for the Tide in the 2012 season.
2. James Franklin, Missouri
Yes, Franklin is likely in for a rude awakening moving from the Big 12 to the SEC.
However, don't assume that he will struggle, as this guy is legitimately talented.
He finished last season with 36 total touchdowns, 15 on the ground and 21 through the air, including a tremendous performance in the Independence Bowl, a game that saw him find the end zone three times.
Do I expect him to have trouble with SEC defenses?
Yes, but who doesn't?
1. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Thomas is the epitome of underrated.
He hit the 30 total touchdown mark last season but did throw double-digit interceptions.
His size and speed make him hard to bring down, especially when he gets into the secondary on a scramble, and you will rarely see a cornerback tackle him off a blitz or alone in the open field, as he is too strong.
His arm is big, his decisions are solid, and if he can figure out how to solve Clemson's defense, he has a great shot at winning ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
On a team known for its defense, Thomas sometimes gets lost in the shadows, but he has the talent to lead the Hokies back to the ACC title.