While players, coaches and fans patiently wait for the new college-football season to arrive, one of the discussions that keeps us occupied revolves around the quarterback position. While there are a few teams that are fortunate enough to return last year’s starter, many of the top teams in college football are left scrambling to find a reliable replacement single-caller.
And with the season just a week away, camp is quickly coming to an end, and coaching staffs are slowly beginning to release the names of the players that will lead their teams in 2012.
Some of these squads will end up using many quarterbacks throughout the year, while a few will hit the jackpot and end up with someone who can take their program to new heights.
Regardless, here are the grades of all the new quarterbacks that will take over college football this year.
Note: Grades are a combination of whom they beat out for the starting job, whom they are replacing, the strengths and weaknesses of that player and everything the quarterback must overcome, such as lack of playmakers, tough schedule, etc.
Strengths: Strong arm, running ability
Weaknesses: Decision making
Strengths: Size, arm strength and athletic
Weaknesses: Mechanics and isn't as quick as he should be
While nearly every school has already made a decision, Will Muschamp wants to play both of his quarterbacks in the regular season opener. This could be to buy extra time to make a decision, or it could possibly be the plan of the Gators playing two quarterbacks all season long. Both have had great camps and they both bring something different to the table.
While I do think Florida could get away with a two-quarterback system, I think Driskel gives the team the best chance to win right away. With his strong arm and dual-threat ability, he provides the spark that this Gators offense lacked last season.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Bryan Bennett
Strengths: Mobile, velocity, leadership, playmaking ability
Weaknesses: Accuracy and his arm isn't the strongest
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Just to play his game
Last year starter Darron Thomas may have actually done the Ducks a favor by leaving early for the NFL draft. Mariota isn't the most polished quarterback in the world, but he is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, which is all Chip Kelly needs in this Oregon offense. He had a terrific performance in the spring game and gives the Ducks offense another playmaker that opposing defenses will have to prepare for.
Who Was Left in the Dust: B.J. Denker
Strengths: Mobility, accuracy and arm strength
Weaknesses: Experience and decision making
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Improving an offense that lost so many playmakers.
Matt Scott is a little different case than the rest of the guys on here because he is a redshirt-senior. And while that may sound like he has a lot of experience, he has only five career starts under his belt. But with that said, he is a dual-threat quarterback, who will fit nicely in Rich Rodriguez spread offense. Not sure good this Arizona offense will be, but giving an offensive genius a playmaker at quarterback is a great start.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovic
Strengths: Pocket presence, extremely athletic, strong arm
Weaknesses: Accuracy and experience
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Keeping this offense relevant
Taylor Kelly was the main backup last season behind Brock Osweiler, throwing just four passes all year long. With Osweiler no longer in the picture, Kelly gives the Sun Devils the best chance to win right away. He is a dual-threat quarterback, who is best when on the move and creating plays with his feet. Playing in the Pac-12 Conference, Kelly is somebody who should already be ahead of the learning curve and will likely fit right in.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Connor Cook and Peter Badovinac
Strengths: Pocket presence, delivery and accuracy
Weaknesses: Isn't the greatest athlete in the world
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Leading this offense the way Kirk Cousins did last season.
Michigan State returns enough starters on the defensive side of the ball to remain a contender for a Big Ten title. And good news for Spartan fans is that this is not the first season for Andrew Maxwell. He has thrown 51 career passes for 294 yards and a touchdown, not exactly a ton of experience, but anything is better than nothing.
Maxwell is extremely calm in the pocket and seems to put the ball where it needs to be. The expectations are high for this young man in East Lansing; hopefully he will be able to get the job done for this team.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Clint Moseley
Strengths: Playmaker, mobility, leadership, athleticism and strong arm
Weaknesses: Decision making and lack of experience
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Learning on the fly in the SEC.
Kiehl Frazier has a ton of upside and could quickly draw comparisons to some guy named Cam Newton due to his athletic ability. He played extremely well in Auburn's spring game and will provide the offense with a much-needed spark. I really like this decision by Gene Chizik and company and believe it will eventually pay off for the Tigers this season.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Nobody
Strengths: Size, arm strength and accuracy
Weaknesses: Off-the-field issues and lack of mobility
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Living up to expectations in the early going.
Say it isn't so. LSU finally has a quarterback?
The Tigers have gone three seasons ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in passing yards. Zach Mettenberger may change that this year. This kid has the size at 6'5", 230 pounds and an arm that can make any throw you ask of him. If he lives up to expectations, he could eventually see himself taken in the first round of the NFL draft. Yes, the tools are all there.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Brett Nottingham and Kevin Hogan
Strengths: Arm strength, size, leadership and IQ
Weaknesses: Release and experience
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Keeping the starting job with an experienced Nottingham behind him and replacing Andrew Luck, of course.
We saw Josh Nunes throw two passes in 2010. In the 2011 season, he was holding a clipboard all year. He was obviously good enough to beat out last year's backup, Brett Nottingham, and has good size at 6'4", 225 pounds. With the offensive line that is returning for Stanford, there shouldn't be many issues and no excuse why Nunes can't have a productive year.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Curt Phillips and Joel Stave
Strengths: Size, underrated athletic ability and downfield awareness
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Putting last season behind him and living up to the expectations of another transfer, Russell Wilson.
Danny O'Brien had a solid season his freshman year at Maryland, but was a completely different quarterback once Randy Edsall came along. O'Brien is a pro-style quarterback who isn't going to wow you with his athleticism, but can make plays with his feet when he has to. Badger fans should not expect a Russell Wilson-type performance in 2012, but O'Brien is somebody who can succeed and lead the Badgers to another Big Ten title.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Tommy Rees, Gunner Kiel and Andrew Hendrix
Strengths: Athletic ability, mobility, arm strength and accuracy
Weaknesses: Size and experience
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Staying healthy, overcoming a brutal schedule and playing well enough to keep everyone else on the sidelines.
Everett Golson is a dual-threat quarterback who will be a lot of fun to watch this season. He has the tools to succeed, but will have to learn quickly considering the Irish have a tough schedule. He can kill you with either his legs or arm and is surprisingly accurate when throwing on the run. However, at 6', 185 pounds, Golson better learn how to avoid many hits or it will be a short season for the redshirt freshman.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel
Strengths: Speed, leadership and solid arm
Weaknesses: Decision making, consistency and experience
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Welcome to the SEC!
It appeared that Jameill Showers was going to be the starter, but head coach Kevin Sumlin pulled a fast one on us and went with Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman is a very athletic quarterback who is so quick that he has the ability to play other positions on the offensive side of the ball. He will add another dimension to this Aggies' offense, but there is nothing worse than being thrown into the lion’s den against the SEC.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Nobody
Strengths: Experience, accuracy, athleticism and footwork
Weaknesses: Arm strength
Biggest Challenge Ahead: What is tougher than filling the shoes of a Heisman Trophy winner?
While many of the quarterbacks on this list are first-timers, this will not be the first rodeo for Nick Florence. He played quite a bit in 2009, completing 62 percent of his passes for over 1,700 yards. He also played well in the Texas Tech game when Robert Griffin left with an injury.
His arm strength isn't going to impress you and he doesn't have a catchy nickname, but he is good enough to keep Baylor relevant, so don't wipe the Bears off the map just yet.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh
Strengths: Touch, accuracy, size and strong arm
Biggest Challenge ahead: Overcoming growing pains.
Wes Lunt is a true freshman who won't turn 19 years old until October. Oklahoma State went from the oldest quarterback in college football to one of the youngest in the span of one season. But despite his age, Lunt has everything you look for in a quarterback, from the 6'5", 205-pound frame to the gorgeous touch he puts on the football. If he can quickly learn the playbook, the Cowboys may have something here.
Who Was Left in the Dust: Chas Dodd
Strengths: Arm strength, mobility and great delivery
Weaknesses: Decision making and accuracy
Biggest Challenge Ahead: Improving his game.
It was a battle between last year's starters, Chas Dodd and Gary Nova. Both played last season, but head coach Kyle Flood decided to go with Nova for the season opener. He is your typical pocket passer and can buy himself some extra time, but must do a better job of taking care of the football and increase last season's 51 percent completion rate.
If you did not see your team here, there is a good chance there has not been a decision made yet on who will lead your favorite squad this fall. Once the coach makes an official announcement, your team will be added to this list.
That includes teams such as Florida and Boise State, among others.