The wholesomeness behind a mid-major program succeeding is unrivaled.
At a few points last season, there were as many as five mid-major programs ranked in the Top 25 (TCU, Utah, BYU, Houston and Boise State).
Upsets similar to Wyoming's victory at Tennessee and Bowling Green State's win at Pittsburgh, both in 2008, are partly why I follow college football.
Mid-major programs are expected to lose games to BCS teams; so when programs like Boise State or Texas Christian excel, college football hounds naturally flock towards the respective teams' star players.
This is my 2010 edition of college football's best mid-major quarterbacks.
I first generated this list last summer, before the 2009 season. I intend on recapping the prior year's list purely for aesthetic purposes. From there, we will delve into the newest crop of talented signal callers.
The players for the 2010 season are listed in alphabetical order, and are comprised from the following conferences: Mountain West, Conference-USA, Western Athletic, Mid-American, and Sun Belt.
Here is last years list:
2009's Best Mid-Major Quarterbacks
Terrance Cain: Cain is now a senior for the Utah Utes. He lost his starting job against Wyoming in Utah's 8th game last year to true freshman Jordan Wynn. Cain had started the first 8 games, but was pulled to spark Utah's offense. Both Cain and Wynn had very respectable numbers last year. Cain is set to start the year behind Wynn.
Omar Clayton: Clayton is a senior for the UNLV Rebels. As is the case with most of UNLV's players, Clayton was not a highly rated recruit. His work ethic put him in a position where he was expected to put up nice numbers for UNLV, as well as earn victories. Last season, Clayton managed to gain over 2,400 total offensive yards, as well as score 16 total touchdowns, but he threw 12 interceptions and led the Rebels to only 5 wins. When you consider that UNLV won 8 total games from 2004-2007, Clayton's 8 total wins the past two years don't look too bad. Still, he has yet to fulfill expectations, and will hope to do so as he enters his final year as a UNLV starting quarterback.
Andy Dalton: Dalton is now a senior for the TCU Horned Frogs. His year a season ago was stellar; TCU's only loss a 7 point drop to undefeated #6 Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Dalton has been fantastic throughout his career and will be great again this season.
Austin Davis: Davis is only a junior for the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. Davis has been great for Southern Miss, despite his injury last year missing the final 8 games.
Max Hall: Hall went undrafted in this years NFL Draft. He has since been signed by the Arizona Cardinals. Hall finished as BYU's second leading passer behind former Cougar, 1990 Heisman winner Ty Detmer.
Tim Hiller: Hiller is another player that went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has since been signed by the Indianapolis Colts. Hiller set numerous passing records at Western Michigan for the Broncos, including the all-time passing record with 11,329 yards.
Colin Kaepernick: Kaepernick is now a senior for the Nevada Wolf Pack. Kaepernick has accumulated many statistics and awards that will be highlighted later in this list.
Case Keenum: Keenum is entering his senior season for the Houston Cougars. Case has set a thousand passing records and could potentially become the NCAA career passing leader this year.
Dan LeFevour: Hailing from the Central Michigan Chippewas, LeFevour was selected 181st overall (6th round) in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Although he had another unbelievable year behind center last season, his selection in the Draft shocked some. LeFevour ended his college career with 102 passing touchdowns, and 47 rushing touchdowns.
Ryan Lindley: Lindley is entering his junior year for the San Diego State Aztecs. I nearly left Lindley off my list last year. He hadn't really performed well, but playing for SDSU doesn't really do him justice. His numbers last year were decent (3054 YDS, 23 TD, 16 INT).
Bo Levi Mitchell: Mitchell has transferred to Eastern Washington, where he will remain a junior for this upcoming season. Mitchell was an interesting case. He was committed to Hawaii and June Jones. Jones left Hawaii for the Mustangs of Southern Methodist, whereupon Mitchell followed and started his college career. He did exactly what was expected of him under Jones: throw the football. He had 24 touchdowns his freshman year, but also led the nation with 23 interceptions. He was slated to have a better year last season, with all his receivers returning. Mitchell's completion percentage actually dropped from 57.6 to 56.0, and his ratio barely increased (12 TD, 10 INT). He was eventually replaced by true freshman Kyle Padron in SMU's 8th game against Tulsa (Mitchell suffered a rib injury and a stomach ulcer). Padron turned in excellent numbers in SMU's remaining games and will be highlighted later.
Kellen Moore: Moore is entering his junior year at Boise State for the Broncos. Moore has been nothing but successful (26-1, starting every game the past two years). Moore did not disappoint Bronco fans last season, taking them to the Fiesta Bowl against TCU (a rematch of 2008's Poinsettia Bowl) and winning 17-10, completing an undefeated year at 14-0.
Tyler Sheehan: Sheehan is another quarterback who went undrafted in the 2010 NFL draft. He was signed by the Houston Texans shortly following the Draft. He managed to score 31 total touchdowns for the Bowling Green State Falcons last season, whilst throwing just 7 interceptions. Sheehan left BGSU as their second all-time leading passer (10,117 YDS), only 163 yards behind Brian McClure ('82-'85).
Rusty Smith: Smith was selected 176th overall (6th round) in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. Smith left Florida Atlantic as their all-time leading passer (10,112 YDS) and is the first Owl to have been drafted (FAU started football just 9 years ago in 2001. They were a FCS Independent until 2003, an FBS Independent in 2004 and joined the SBC in 2005). Smith was lost for the last 6 games of his senior season.
Trevor Vittatoe: Vittatoe is slated to enter his final year at UTEP as the starter for the Miners. Vittatoe had a mediocre season last year, completing just 54.8 percent of his passes. He did throw for 3,308 yards, but his touchdown-to-interception ratio was average (17 TD, 13 INT). After compiling 58 touchdowns to just 16 interceptions his first two years, Vittatoe was thought of as a top quarterback in the CUSA. An awful 4-8 season last year and hitting a spurt of trouble (http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/03/23/utep-suspends-starting-qb/) may position Vittatoe--and quite possibly UTEP--uncomfortably.
LAST SEASON: 214-366 COMP-ATT, 58.5% COMP, 2885 PASS YDS, 17 TD, 4 INT, 458 NET RUSH YDS, 6 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'0" 190) Utah State was the only FBS school to offer Borel a scholarship. Borel is a mobile quarterback (played WR and QB as a true freshman) playing on a poor offensive squad.
His play is a mixture of Julian Edelman (Kent State '08) and Joe Webb (UAB '09). He throws the ball frequently for a mobile quarterback.
Borel led Utah State in both rushing and passing in 2008 (only six other QBs did so within the FBS that year). He was named Utah State's offensive player of the year for 2008.
Broke school single-season total offense record with 3,343 total yards in 2009. Borel has 4,590 career passing yards, leaving him 1,515 yards behind third and 1,636 yards behind second place on Utah State's career list.
EXPECTATIONS: Head Coach Gary Andersen took over at the beginning of 2009. He had previously been on Utah State's coaching staff since 2004.
With Andersen the head coach, Utah State went 4-8 in 2009. Those four wins marked the most wins since 2002 (4-7). Borel has been electric on the field, and his play should not hinder.
Utah State's entire backfield returns, as well as the top three receivers. Junior Matt Austin is fresh off a redshirt year and is slated as the No. 2 receiver.
Four of five offensive linemen return, so Borel should have a great supporting cast to help the Aggies improve their offensive numbers.
Borel should lead the Aggies to their best year in over a decade with an experienced Andersen and a full offense in a comfortable position.
Photo courtesy of Associated Press
LAST SEASON: 199-323 COMP-ATT, 61.6% COMP, 2756 PASS YDS, 23 TD, 8 INT, 512 NET RUSH YDS, 3 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'3" 215) Only TCU and UTEP offered Dalton a scholarship. Dalton won the starting job in 2007 as a redshirt freshman. He led TCU to the Texas Bowl, and beat Houston 20-13. Dalton was named bowl MVP. Dalton set the school single-season completion record in 2007 with 222. Dalton was named the Mountain West player of the year for the 2009 season. Dalton enters the 2010 season 29-7 as a starter (most wins in NCAA as an active quarterback). Despite being quietly mobile (232 YDS in '07, 432 in '08, 512 last year) Dalton is also already the school's career passing leader with 7,457 yards. Dalton has led TCU to rankings as high as #11 (2008) and #3 (2009).
EXPECTATIONS: Since his first season on the field in 2007 (10 TD, 11 INT), Dalton has been safe and spectacular. He has thrown 34 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions in his 24 starts the past two years. He has led TCU to three bowls, winning two (only loss was a BCS bowl, Fiesta Bowl, against Boise State in 2009). Dalton has been great in limiting mistakes the previous two years. His lone loss last season was the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State in which he threw a season-high 3 interceptions, losing 10-17. If Dalton can limit mistakes this year, TCU can ride their high preseason ranking right into the National Title game.
LAST SEASON: 219-399 COMP-ATT, 54.9% COMP, 2789 PASS YDS, 23 TD, 14 INT, 1154 NET RUSH YDS, 13 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (5'10" 202) Dasher only received interest from Middle Tennessee. Dasher started 6 games at QB in 2007 as a true freshman (started another at RB). He led the team in rushing with 530 yards. He only completed 56.0 percent of his passes, the best completion percentage in a season for him (38.6 in 2008, 54.9 last year). After only throwing for 156 yards in 2008, Dasher set a school single-season record for total offensive yards with 3,943 (#6 in FBS). He also broke the single-season school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,154, as well as the school single-season record for passing touchdowns with 23. He led MTSU to their first bowl game since 2006 (second since joining the FBS in 2000), and their first win, a 42-32 victory over Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. Dasher was the MVP of the bowl.
EXPECTATIONS: While losing two of his top three targets, Dasher should still have a successful season. The Blue Raiders have four returning linemen and return their top two running backs. Dasher could lead MTSU to another double-digit victory season. The Blue Raiders are no strangers to FBS opponents and could upset Minnesota (they beat Maryland each of the past two years). Dasher should be the most electric quarterback in the Sun Belt Conference.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America
LAST SEASON: 108-156 COMP-ATT, 69.2% COMP, 1165 PASS YDS, 10 TD, 2 INT, 63 NET RUSH YDS, 2 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'2" 208) Davis received offers from Louisiana Tech and SE Louisiana, but opted to walk-on at Southern Miss. He saw immediate success in 2008 after redshirting 2007. In '08, Davis was named the starting quarterback (first freshman to do so since 1991). Davis broke Brett Favre's single-season freshman touchdown record (16) with 23. Davis threw for 3,128 yards in 2008. Davis led Southern Miss to the 2008 New Orleans Bowl against Troy, where the Golden Eagles won 30-27 and Davis was named MVP. He was named to the All-Conference-USA team, as well as the freshman All-America Honorable Mention team. Entering 2009, Davis had high expectations, and he fulfilled them until he was sidelined in week five with a foot injury.
EXPECTATIONS: Davis and Southern Miss started 3-0 last year, and were on the verge of upsetting the Jayhawks of Kansas in Lawrence (KU won 35-28). Heading to UAB at 3-1, Southern Miss was trailing 17-23, when Davis threw a pick-six, and was knocked out for the year. Southern Miss loses over 75% of their receiving production, but retains their star DeAndre Brown. If Davis can overcome four lost linemen and their two top rushers, Southern Miss can produce, but it appears unlikely. My prediction is that we will see a lot of Davis-to-Brown this year, as they are two of the only three returning offensive starters for Larry Fedora's squad.
LAST SEASON: 192-312 COMP-ATT, 61.5% COMP, 2906 PASS YDS, 22 TD, 9 INT, -55 NET RUSH YDS, 0 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'5" 227) Idaho was the lone school that offered Enderle a scholarship. Enderle started most of the 2007 season, missing three-plus games to a hand injury.
He has made vast improvements (10:18 ratio in '07, 20:17 in '08, 22:9 last year) each year under head coach Robb Akey, who came in at the same time.
Enderle finished 2009 fifth in passing efficiency in the NCAA. Enderle led the Vandals to their first bowl game (2009 Humanitarian Bowl, 43-42 victory over BGSU) and best record (8-5) since 1998.
He needs 4,054 passing yards to become the Vandals' leading career passer.
EXPECTATIONS: If Enderle can keep on the same path, which is great improvement, then the Vandals will have another successful season.
Playing against good competition (at Nebraska and Fresno State, home against Nevada and Boise State) will make it difficult for Enderle to reproduce last year's numbers.
The Vandals lose their top receiver in Max Komar (1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns), as well as their top rusher and four linemen. Enderle's numbers should decrease and the Vandals should not have as good of a season as 2009.
Photo courtesy of Associated Press
LAST SEASON: 166-282 COMP-ATT, 58.9% COMP, 2052 PASS YDS, 20 TD, 6 INT, 1183 NET RUSH YDS, 16 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'6" 215) Kaepernick's only offer was from Nevada, where he immediately redshirted his 2006 freshman year.
Starter Nick Graziano was lost for the year in the Wolf Pack's fifth game. Kaepernick came in with only 6 pass attempts for his career, but ended the day with 384 passing yards, 60 rushing yards and 5 total touchdowns.
Kaepernick has compiled incredible statistics, and entering the 2010 season his is the active leader in rushing touchdowns (39).
He has also thrown for 61 touchdowns in his two plus years under center, with just 16 interceptions and 0 fumbles.
He has been named the WAC freshman player of the year in 2007 and the WAC offensive player of the year in 2008.
He is the first quarterback in NCAA history to have back-to-back seasons with 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards (Brad Smith of Missouri did it twice, '02 and '05).
Kaepernick needs 94 rushing yards to become the second quarterback in WAC history to have amassed 3,000 career passing and rushing yards.
Kaerpnick also needs 3,826 passing yards to become Nevada's all-time leading passer. He is also 1,341 rushing yards away from third on Nevada's all-time rushing list.
EXPECTATIONS: It would be hard for Nevada to surpass what they did offensively last season. They became the first team in NCAA history to have three separate 1,000 yard rushers in a single season.
Head coach Chris Ault's game plan should not change; Kaepernick will run and throw and only improve upon his numbers. The Wolf Pack return six of their top seven receivers, and their top rusher.
Three linemen return as well, and Nevada plays Boise State at home. The Wolf Pack should have another productive year, and Kaepernick will most certainly end his career as one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the history of the NCAA.
Photo courtesy of www.collegefootballsaturday.com
LAST SEASON: 492-700 COMP-ATT, 70.3% COMP, 5671 PASS YDS, 44 TD, 15 INT, 158 NET RUSH YDS, 4 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'2" 210) Recruited by Baylor, Houston and Missouri, Keenum chose the Cougars. From that point, he has yet to look back.
As a redshirt freshman in 2007, Keenum started seven and played in all 13 games. He compiled good numbers with 2,259 yards (69.0 completion percentage) and a 14:10 ratio (also ran for 412 with 9 TD).
He was named to C-USA's All-Freshman Team and was C-USA's freshman of the year for 2007. Keenum improved in 2008, passing for 5,020 yards (67%) and a ratio of 44:11 (also had 221 rushing yards with 7 touchdowns).
He was the nation's leader in total offense and was named C-USA's 2008 offensive player of the year. He led Houston to their first bowl victory (34-28 over Air Force, Armed Forces Bowl) since 1980.
In 2009, Keenum improved his numbers once again. He is currently 14 yards behind Kevin Kolb on Houston's all-time passing list, and only needs 4,167 yards to replace Hawaii's Tim Chang as the NCAA's all-time leading passer.
He won the 2009 Sammy Baugh Trophy, was named C-USA's MVP for 2009 as well as C-USA First Team and Second Team All-America honors.
EXPECTATIONS: Keenum has his top four receivers back, and 6 of the top 7. Three linemen return, another (Jacolby Ashworth) returns from injury and a fifth (Isaiah Thompson) has converted from DL.
With their entire backfield returning as well, Houston is prime for a double-digit win season and quite possibly a BCS bowl.
Keenum may be the most polished passer in the nation, a year in which some of the best quarterbacks are actually from mid-major programs (Moore, Dalton, Kaepernick).
I predict Keenum shattering Tim Chang's NCAA career passing record bar injury, and the Cougars getting to a BCS bowl game.
LAST SEASON: 210-345 COMP-ATT, 60.9% COMP, 2732 PASS YDS, 22 TD, 10 INT, 393 NET RUSH YDS, 5 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'2" 219) Coming out of HS, Kinne was offered scholarships to Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M. He chose Texas, redshirted his 2007 season and never attempted a pass for the Longhorns.
He transferred to Tulsa and sat out the 2008 season due to ineligibility rules. He first saw action last year, producing with an inexperienced line.
Kinne led Tulsa in both gained (711) and net (393) rushing yards, and added 5 scores.
EXPECTATIONS: Kinne is the first returning starter for head coach Todd Graham (Graham's tenure started in 2007, Paul Smith started '05-'07, David Johnson '08).
His experience last season was crucial, and in Tulsa's offensive system, Kinne's talents (much more polished than both Smith and Johnson) and size make him a viable threat to become the second best passer in the C-USA behind Case Keenum.
Photo by Shawn Raecke / Idaho Statesman
LAST SEASON: 12-17 COMP-ATT, 70.6% COMP, 90 PASS YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 12 NET RUSH YDS, 1 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'2" 215) Korn was rated as high as the #2 quarterback in the nation coming out of high school. He had offers from Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wake Forest, but opted to stay in-state and play for the Tigers at Clemson. He had to play behind Harper (2,991 YDS, 27 TD, 6 INT in '07; '08 preseason ACC POY) and then Kyle Parker (2,526 YDS, 20 TD, 12 INT in '09). Korn chose to transfer to Marshall instead of playing behind Parker again (set school freshman single-season passing yard record). Korn hasn't really had an opportunity to perform playing behind two very good ACC quarterbacks.
EXPECTATIONS: Korn will most likely be given the reigns to the Thundering Herd offense. He is playing behind a very experienced line, and has four of last years top five receivers to help him out. If Korn can find a niche, his talents should take precedence and Marshall could improve upon their record from last year.
Photo courtesy of Associated Press
LAST SEASON: 239-437 COMP-ATT, 54.7% COMP, 3054 PASS YDS, 23 TD, 16 INT, -131 NET RUSH YDS, 1 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'4" 215) Lindley's only two offers were from Idaho and SDSU. Lindley redshirted his first year in 2007. In '08, he threw for 2,653 yards and 16 touchdowns to just 9 interceptions. In that year, he also set school freshman records for attempts and completions, as well as yards and touchdowns. He has compiled 5,707 career passing yards, just 2,459 behind second place (Billy Blanton, 8,165; Kevin O'Connell is third with 7,689), with two years of eligibility remaining.
EXPECTATIONS: Brady Hoke came to SDSU prior to last season, and brought his offense with him. His Aztecs went 4-8, and improvement from 2008's record of 2-10. With an entire year of Hoke's offense under his belt, the entire run game returning, 6 of the top 7 receivers returning and four linemen returning, Lindley should feel more at home than ever. Former head coach Chuck Long said of Lindley that he'd never been around a freshman that could read defenses so well.
Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images North America
LAST SEASON: 277-431 COMP-ATT, 64.3% COMP, 3536 PASS YDS, 39 TD, 3 INT, -5 NET RUSH YDS, 1 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'0" 186) Only Eastern Washington and Boise State offered Moore a scholarship. After choosing the Broncos, Moore redshirted his first year in 2007. By the end of 2008, Moore had compiled a 12-1 record as a starter with 3,486 passing yards (69.0%) and a 25:10 ratio. He led Boise State to the Poinsettia Bowl and a ranking of #9. His efforts earned him WAC freshman of the year, All-WAC second-team and freshman All-America honors. His numbers in 2009 were even better, and he earned the WAC's player of the year award, as well as first team All-WAC and third team All-America honors. His numbers in 2009 were good enough to place him second in the nation in passing efficiency. Moore led the Broncos to a Fiesta Bowl win over TCU (17-10 final) and a ranking as high as #6 prior to the bowl. Moore is 26-1 (lone loss was a 16-17 drop to TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl) as a starter and has won two WAC championships. Moore, despite being just a junior, has 7,022 career passing yards, leaving him 2,797 yards behind Ryan Dinwiddie for first all-time in Bronco history.
EXPECTATIONS: The Broncos return 20 starters from last seasons 14-0 Fiesta Bowl winning team. Their sole new offensive starter is Charles Leno, a redshirt freshman left tackle. Moore and his supporting cast have got to feel comfortable as a unit under head coach Chris Petersen (49-4 career record, 26-0 at home, 21-2 on road, 2-2 in bowls). Moore and the Broncos should put up great numbers and win often. I expect them to make the National Championship given they get past Virginia Tech and Oregon State.
LAST SEASON: 135-201 COMP-ATT, 67.2% COMP, 1922 PASS YDS, 10 TD, 4 INT, 42 NET RUSH YDS, 2 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'4" 210) Southern Methodist was the only FBS school considering Padron. As a true freshman, Padron saw very limited time until starter Bo Levi Mitchell was injured (ribs, ulcer) in the Mustangs' seventh game. Padron finished the season, and SMU went 5-1 with him as their starter. Padron set a school record for passing yards in a game with 460 against Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl (SMU won 45-10), in which he was named the MVP. He was honored to the C-USA All-Freshman team last year as well. Padron's passer rating was good for fifth in the nation last year (159.9). SMU's bowl appearance was their first in 25 years.
EXPECTATIONS: With an entire offseason and Spring to prepare for the starting role, Padron has time to mold any inconsistencies. He is a true pocket passer that hails from Southlake Carroll HS in Texas, that produced Chase Daniel (Missouri, now with the New Orleans Saints) and Greg McElroy (Alabama, won National Championship last year). Padron has seven of his top nine receivers returning, but with June Jones' system, the Mustangs shouldn't have trouble filling the receiver spot. Four linemen return as well, and the Mustangs should battle for supremacy in the C-USA for the first time since their inclusion in 2005.
Photo by Matthew Visinsky
LAST SEASON: 109-184 COMP-ATT, 59.2% COMP, 1372 PASS YDS, 12 TD, 2 INT, 19 NET RUSH YDS, 3 RUSH TD
SYNOPSIS: (6'5" 210) VanCamp was redshirted in 2006. He barely saw any time in '07 and '08. In 2009, he got his first taste of the starting job as Rusty Smith (FAU's career leading passer, first Owl drafted) went down in FAU's 7th game. VanCamp filled Smith's shoes nicely (see above for statistics). VanCamp doesn't have too much of a background, and he hasn't played in a bowl game yet.
EXPECTATIONS: The Owls lose five of their top six receivers, and their entire offensive line. VanCamp and running back Alfred Morris (FAU's 2009 team MVP) are the only returning offensive starters. Despite having an enitre offseason and Spring now under his belt, I don't think Howard Schnellenberger can work any more magic on this Owl squad. I preduct the owls to have a troublesome season, with Morris and VanCamp being the highlights. I just don't think VanCamp can overcome the deficits the Owls have recently faced.
Photo courtesy of www.fauowlsnest.com
These players, for whatever reason, are on the brink of making this list.
Austyn Carta-Samuels, Sophomore | Wyoming Cowboys (Mountain West)
Carta-Samuels threw for 1,953 yards, 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions last year. He also scrambled for 366 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. He is just a sophomore, and was named the Mountain West freshman of the year last season. He led the Cowboys to a 7-6 record, including their first bowl appearance--and victory--since 2004 with a 35-28 win over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. With the majority of his supporting cast returning, look out for this player in the Mountain West.
Omar Clayton, Senior | Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels (Mountain West)
Clayton was somewhat of a disappointment for the Rebels last season. He completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards, but his ratio was not impressive (13:12), and UNLV went 5-7. He did manage to gain an additional 238 yards on the ground, accompanied by 3 touchdowns. If Clayton struggles again, head coach Bobby Hauck might pull him for junior Mike Clausen who threw for 463 passing yards, had a 4:2 ratio, and also ran for 288 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns, all last year in limited time.
Ryan Colburn, Senior | Fresno State Bulldogs (Western Athletic)
Colburn lost valuable playing time in 2008, not playing at all. He saw very limited time in 2007 as a redshirt freshman. 2009 had Colburn completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,459 yards and 19 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He ran for an additional 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. Colburn could mold into a Brandstater type (drafted by Denver, 6th round) or he could fade. Fresno State returns just two of their top seven receivers, and loses all-world running back Ryan Matthews. Their very experienced line returns, which should certainly help Colburn. He will be an interesting player to follow this year, as sophomore Derek Carr gave him significant trouble for the starting job a year ago.
Tim Jefferson, Junior | Air Force Falcons (Mountain West)
Jefferson has put up fine numbers in Air Force's offensive system, as expected. If Jefferson can remain out of trouble (nearly was ineligible to play due to academics), then he may make this list next year when he enters his senior season.
Trevor Vittatoe, Senior | Texas-El Paso Miners (Conference-USA)
Vittatoe had the highest expectations of all C-USA quarterbacks last season. UTEP was picked to give Houston a run for the C-USA title. Although UTEP beat the Cougars last season, the Miners went 4-8 and Vittatoe had a mediocre season (3308 YDS, 54.8%, 17 TD, 13 INT). Vittatoe has faced some trouble this offseason, being suspended for the team for a short stint. If he can mature and play football at the level he is capable of, he could be one of the best QBs outside of the BCS.
Jordan Wynn, Sophomore | Utah Utes (Mountain West)
Just a sophomore, Wynn impressed many last year as a true freshman. He was nearly redshirted last year, but was called upon in Utah's 8th game. The previous starter, Terrance Cain, didn't see the field after that. Wynn went on to start the final 5 games, and rose Utah's points per game average by a full touchdown. With an entire offseason and Spring now under his belt, Wynn has had time to work out any kinks and build a foundation for success for the Utes. He should put up respectable numbers for a sophomore in the Mountain West.
Photo courtesy of Associated Press