10 Underrated Quarterbacks That Will Make an Impact in 2012

Michael Desjardins@TheMDesjardinsCorrespondent IIAugust 30, 2012

10 Underrated Quarterbacks That Will Make an Impact in 2012

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    College football is almost upon us, and fans are ready to see quarterbacks like USC's Matt Barkley, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, and West Virginia's Geno Smith perform once again.

    These quarterbacks, barring injuries, will no doubt be featured prominently throughout the season, as each of them will help their respective team get to the National Championship.

    But for every Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, and award-winning QB/instant-NFL Draft pick, there are the Colt Brennans and Kellen Moores; quarterbacks that display talent, but don't get the recognition and exposure, largely because they play for a less-than-stellar football program.

    That being said, here are 10 underrated quarterbacks who can make an impact this season. And maybe, whether you're a casual or hardcore college football fan, after reading this article, you'll take a look at a few of them on the list.

Alex Carder, Western Michigan

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    The Western Michigan Broncos finished 7-6 last year, and a part of the reason was their quarterback, Alex Carder.

    As a junior last year, he played in 12 games (he did not play in the regular-season finale against Akron) and threw for 3,873 yards, good for ninth-highest in the FBS. In addition, he recorded 31 touchdown passes, which was 12th-highest.

    Highlight games of his 2011 season include:

    * Throwing 22 of 31 against Michigan in the season opener (Western Michigan lost 34-10).

    * A five-touchdown game against UConn (Western Michigan won 38-31).

    * A seven-touchdown, 548-yard performance against Toledo, setting a single-game MAC-conference record in touchdowns and school record in passing yards (Western Michigan lost 66-61).

    This year, he faces two Big 10 opponents in Illinois and Minnesota, plus UConn once again. But the game to watch will be on October 27 against Northern Illinois; last season, he completed just 25 of his 43 passes and one touchdown in a 51-22 loss.

Joe Southwick, Boise State

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    Joe Southwick has big shoes to fill in replacing Kellen Moore, the winningest quarterback in FBS history. Fortunately for him, he'll have plenty of help.

    Four starters from an offensive line that allowed a nation-low eight sacks last season return, which will greatly help Southwick as he gains more starting experience and confidence.

    He also has the benefit of having two 6'3" receivers. One is sophomore Matt Miller, who had 62 receptions for 679 yards last season. The other is junior Kirby Moore, Kellen's younger brother, who replaces Tyler Shoemaker as slot receiver.

    Though the Broncos do not have to face TCU this year, they do face some stiff competition early in the season, including 13th-ranked Michigan State and BYU.

    If Southwick can perform well early, Boise State has a good chance to be BCS-busters once again, before departing for the Big East in 2013.

Brett Smith, Wyoming

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    Wyoming's Brett Smith definitely deserves more credit. While the Mountain West may not be the strongest football conference in the nation, he did play last season as a freshman. And with him taking snaps, he helped the Cowboys earn eight wins, including five in-conference, finishing third behind only TCU and Boise State.

    Passing-wise, he was a mix throughout the season. He was impressive against San Diego State (25 for 36, 341 yards) and was accurate against TCU (16 for 25, 210 yards) and Boise State (17 for 25 but only 78 yards), but his performance against Colorado State should have been better (just 11 for 22).

    What is impressive about Brett Smith is his ability to run with the football, most notably against New Mexico, when he ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

    Now with a year of experience under his belt, look for Smith and the Cowboys to make another run for the Mountain West. TCU is gone, but Boise State still stands in the way. In addition, their season opener on the road against Texas will be a tough test for the young quarterback.

Sean Renfree, Duke

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    Yes, I know. When it comes to ACC football, Duke is not the first team you think of. However, senior Sean Renfree gives the Blue Devils some hope.

    Though he threw one touchdown and nearly 300 passing yards less than his 2010 campaign, his completion percentage rose by nearly four percent and his interception count lowered from 17 in 2010 to 11 last season.

    What really helps Renfree is his size. He's listed at 6'5" and weighs 225 pounds.

    His most impressive game last season was against Boston College, completing 41 of 53 for 368 yards and two touchdowns.

    The game Renfree will need to be most wary of this season is against Virginia Tech on October 13. Last year, he completed just 17 of his 35 passes in a 14-10 loss.

    Stanford and in-conference opponent Florida State will also be tough tests for him and the Blue Devils, (though last season, he was 10 of 19 against Stanford and 26 of 43 against Florida State).

Corey Robinson, Troy

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    While Corey Robinson's overall numbers last season dropped from 2010, he was still able to throw for 3,411 yards, good for 21st-highest amongst FBS quarterbacks.

    Though small in size (he stands at just 5'10"), he did have six 300-yard passing games, including a four-game streak

    Now in his junior year, Robinson hopes to help the Troy Trojans do better than their 3-9 (2-6 in C-USA games) record last season.

    While he and the Trojans do not have to face Louisiana-Monroe this season (arguably his worst game, in which he threw 19 of 34 for 129 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions), they still have to face Florida International (against whom Robinson went 17 of 31 for 203 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions).

    In addition, the Trojans have two SEC opponents to face, Mississippi State and Tennessee.

Mike Glennon, North Carolina State

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    When Russell Wilson left NC State to play for Wisconsin, it was up to Mike Glennon to step up to the task. Last season he was able to do so, throwing for 3054 yards and 31 touchdowns.

    His best performance came in the regular-season finale against Maryland, when he completed 36 of 55 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns. He also helped the Wolfpack win their bowl game against Louisville, throwing 21 of 33 for 264 yards and three touchdowns.

    Like Renfree, Mike Glennon benefits from size, but is actually even bigger, at 6'6" and 232 pounds.

    Now in his senior year, he'll need to use that size to his advantage if he wants to help his team reach the ACC Championship game, particularly when they face Florida State at home, on October 6.

    Last year, the Wolfpack were shutout 34-0, as Glennon completed 19 of 34 passes for just 130 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Games against Virginia and in-state rival North Carolina will also test him once again.

Derek Carr, Fresno State

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    Yes, Derek Carr is former number-one draft pick David Carr's little brother. No, I don't think Derek will throw 46 passing touchdowns like his older brother did in 2001 for Fresno State.

    However, Derek Carr is still a talented individual. Though the Fresno State Bulldogs recorded just four wins last season, Carr threw for more than 3,500 yards and recorded 26 touchdowns. He threw at least one touchdown in every game, with the exception of against Boise State.

    Now a junior, can he help take the Bulldogs offensively to the next level and contend for a WAC title? He'll have to battle with Boise State once more, and a game against Oregon on September 8 will test his abilities.

    However, the one game that will be interesting to watch will be against San Diego State on September 29. Last season, he completed just 19 of 35 passes against the Aztecs, a 54.3 percent completion rate, but was able to record 336 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-28 loss.

Sean Mannion, Oregon State

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    Like Brett Smith, Oregon State's Sean Mannion had the pressure of playing as a freshman last season. Except for Mannion, that pressure multiplies exponentially, playing in the Pac-12 conference.

    It also didn't help him that the Beavers' rushing game was third-worst in FBS (averaged 86.9 yards per game) and their defense allowed an average of 30.8 points per game.

    But Mannion has a good arm, recording 3,328 passing yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He had some big games, most notably against Washington State, where he threw 26 of 34 for 376 yards and four touchdowns.

    He now has a full year of starting experience under his belt and a plethora of receivers to utilize (he threw touchdowns to 11 different players last season), which will definitely help as he enters the 2012 season. And with that full year of experience, his interceptions should be cut down (18 last season), as well.

    Mannion will have an early, non-conference test against Wisconsin on September 8. Other tough games include Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State (where he completed 40 of 66, but also had four interceptions).

Collin Klein, Kansas State

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    At 6'5" and 226 pounds, you'd think Kansas State's Collin Klein would throw more than 281 passes last season...

    Then again, when you can set an FBS-rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks with 27 touchdowns, and run for 1,141 yards on the ground (second only to Michigan's Denard Robinson), maybe you don't need him to.

    Watching Klein run is certainly something to see; this kid can flat out go. The fact that he's able to do it against Big 12 opponents, as well as in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas, makes it even more impressive.

    And it certainly worked for the Wildcats, earning them 10 wins and finishing second to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 conference.

    Of course, that's not to say he's a bad passer. He had 13 passing touchdowns and nearly 2,000 passing yards last season, including 200+-yard games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. He also had three games with a 66.7 percent completion percentage or better (Missouri, Miami, and Texas Tech).

    Expect the same from Klein in 2012, but also expect for him to face stingy defenses, too. Big 12-newcomers TCU and West Virginia are in the schedule. Oklahoma and Texas will also be tough, as usual.

Tyler Tettleton, Ohio

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    Out of all the quarterbacks on this list, the Ohio Bobcats' Tyler Tettleton might be the most complete. He's both a capable passer and runner, but won't get as much recognition as he deserves because he plays in the MAC conference.

    Last season he threw for 3,306 yards and 28 touchdowns, and ran for 666 yards and 10 touchdowns.

    His dual-threat abilities (along with a defense that allowed 22.1 points per game) helped Ohio win 10 games and the MAC East division, before losing a close one to Northern Illinois in the conference championship game.

    Now a junior, expect Tettleton to perform again in 2012. He and the Bobcats will have a tough season opener on the road against Penn State. Marshall might also give them a run for their money.