2010 College Football Predictions: The Nation's Top 25 Quarterbacks
A quarterback is the leader of a football team.
He is a talented individual whose leadership and ability are second to none and is not afraid of failure.
Quarterbacks go through an immense amount of pressure to win games.
Every quarterback's ultimate goal is to become the absolute best at what he does.
And they become the best by winning.
Here are the Top 25 quarterbacks entering this season in college football.
25. Zach Collaros—Cincinnati
Zach Collaros waited patiently behind Tony Pike as the primary signal-caller for Cincinnati.
With Pike now in the NFL, Collaros takes over an offense that averaged nearly 39 points per game and had an undefeated regular season.
The 6'0", 209-pound junior quarterback enjoyed some success behind Pike, throwing for 1,434 yards, 10 touchdowns, and rushing for four additional scores.
Despite receiver Mardy Gilyard departing to the NFL, seven starters return on offense including receivers Armon Binns and USC transfer Vidal Hazelton.
Collaros will have plenty of weapons to utilize on offense and could surpass the numbers Pike put up last year.
With new head coach Butch Jones, can the two-time defending Big East Champion Bearcats repeat with contenders Pittsburgh and West Virginia looming?
Collaros holds the key to the offense, and if his play is consistent and he remains injury-free, the answer could be yes.
24. BJ Daniels—South Florida
BJ Daniels filled in nicely for an injured Matt Grothe last season as a freshman and led the Bulls to an 8-5 record.
The 6'1", 210-pound sophomore threw for 1,983 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for another nine scores. His accuracy needs to improve, which will come if he remains patient and does not force throws into crowded areas.
With a year of experience under his belt, Daniels should improve in all areas of his game.
USF returns 10 offensive starters but will be without key wideout A.J. Love, who will miss at least the first half of the season with a torn ACL.
There are still plenty of playmakers that will assist Daniels in improving the offense.
If Daniels can continue to be productive and show his quickness and athleticism, it will be up to the defense to dictate how successful South Florida can be this season.
23. Tom Savage—Rutgers
Rutgers took a major gamble starting true freshman Tom Savage last season as the signal-caller.
That move could prove to pay large dividends this season and in the years to come.
The 6'5", 230-pound sophomore threw for 2,211 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading the Scarlet Knights to a 9-4 record in 2009.
Savage earned Freshman All-America honors last season. This year he will have several playmakers at his disposal.
The punishing tailback, Joe Martinek, and fellow freshman standout receiver Mohamed Sanu, will be back to help improve a Scarlet Knight squad that finished fourth in the Big East in points per game.
Rutgers has played in five consecutive bowl games and will hope to make it six—but only if Savage continues playing at a high level.
Rutgers and South Florida are the only Big East programs to not win at least a share of the conference title. With Savage leading the team and several other young, athletic playmakers, it may only be a matter of time for the Scarlet Knights.
22. Josh Nesbitt—Georgia Tech
If you are looking for a pass-happy quarterback that uses an aerial attack to devour defenses, look elsewhere.
Quarterback Josh Nesbitt accounted for 28 touchdowns–18 of them on the ground–while throwing and running for more than 1,000 yards last season.
Nesbitt, along with now departed Johnathan Dwyer, led the Yellow Jacket rushing attack and helped Georgia Tech finish second in the country in rushing last season.
Despite Dwyer's departure to the NFL, the crafty, athletic senior quarterback has numerous options to help avoid the offense from suffering a drop-off.
The offensive line should provide durability and experience for a backfield that will rely heavily on blocking to be able to create space and make plays.
If Nesbitt can improve his passing ability and accuracy, this option offense can be extremely dangerous for defenses and could result in the Yellow Jackets hoisting another ACC Championship.
21. Russell Wilson—NC State
Despite focusing on baseball in the spring, quarterback Russell Wilson will hope to duplicate his stellar numbers and lead NC State to a breakout season in the ACC.
The 5'11", 201-pounder threw for 3,027 yards, 31 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions, and added another four scores on the ground.
His 3,287 total yards of offense was the third highest total in school history for a single season.
The Wolfpack look to build on their big win over ACC title contender North Carolina in their final game last season.
Seven starters return on offense for NC State including a pair of proven receivers, Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer.
The athletic Wilson has the ability to improve this Wolfpack team and if injuries are not a concern, NC State can help fourth-year coach Tom O'Brien enjoy his first winning season as head coach.
20. Scott Tolzien—Wisconsin
Quarterback Scott Tolzien led the Badgers to double-digit wins last season and hopes to continue his development.
If all goes according to plan, Wisconsin should push Ohio State in the Big Ten.
In his first season as a starter, the 6'3", 208-pound Tolzien connected on 64.3 percent of his passes while throwing 2,705 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The senior quarterback proved to be very efficient and accurate and may eclipse those numbers from last season as 10 starters return on offense.
None are bigger than super running back John Clay, who rushed for 18 scores last year.
Clay will terrorize defenses on the ground while allowing Tolzien to make the big plays through the air.
If the Badgers can retain momentum created in their win over Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, they could push Ohio State and fellow contenders for the Big Ten crown.
19. Nick Foles—Arizona
Nick Foles could be the next breakout quarterback in a talented crop. But his play in close games is what could separate him from fellow signal-callers.
The 6'5", 245-pounder threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 19 scores while leading the Wildcats to a Holiday Bowl berth.
Foles has improved his accuracy and footwork, giving the Wildcats a potent passing attack not seen in recent memory.
The junior quarterback leads nine offensive starters returning, including running back Nic Grinsby and wide receiver Juron Criner. Criner will give Foles plenty of chances to make big plays for the Wildcats.
Foles has the talent to lead Arizona and perhaps become a dark-horse contender in the Pac-10.
If the Wildcats can stay in close games, Foles has the ability to lead them to big wins and that could mean an improvement from last season.
18. Robert Griffin—Baylor
Robert Griffin had Baylor fans salivating at his talent and the hope that perhaps Baylor could make a solid push in the loaded Big 12 South.
After passing for over 2,000 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only three interceptions, expectations were high for a Bear squad accustomed to the bottom of the conference.
Dreams of a breakout year were broken when Griffin was lost for the season with a right knee injury.
The 6'2", 210-pound quarterback only threw 69 passes with four scores last year while watching his Bears struggle to a 4-8 record.
The elusive, speedy sophomore quarterback now returns healthy. With six other offensive starters back, the Bears could enjoy more success than last season.
If Griffin can stay healthy, and Baylor can take advantage of a somewhat favorable schedule, the Bears may be a breakout team this year.
17. John Brantley—Florida
Replacing a Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion is never easy.
Meet John Brantley, the man who has the inconceivable task of replacing one of the greatest players in college football history, Tim Tebow.
Brantley, a junior who was sparingly played last season, completed 75 percent of his 48 passes and threw for seven scores.
The transition for the 6'3", 218-pound junior may not be as difficult as one expects. The Gators return six starters to an offense that finished in the top 10 in points per game, rushing, and total offense last season.
Brantley may not have the mobility or creativity of Tebow, but he possesses a strong arm and has the ability to make big plays, something the Gators will need if they want to dethrone Alabama atop the SEC.
While it is fair to expect a drop-off for the Gators, Florida definitely has the talent to pick up where it left off last season and return to national championship form.
16. Landry Jones—Oklahoma
Landry Jones proved to Oklahoma and to college football that there is life after Sam Bradford.
After the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner went down with a shoulder injury, Jones filled in and produced superb numbers.
The then freshman threw for 3,198 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions while leading the Sooners to eight wins despite Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham being out for the season.
Oklahoma returns 16 total starters, including eight on offense, and will remain one of the most talented teams in the country.
Jones will have playmakers in his arsenal with running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Ryan Broyles.
The Sooners have the talent to win the Big 12 but Jones' play, as well as offensive line concerns, could be the difference between a bowl game and playing for a national title.
15. Jacory Harris—Miami (Fl.)
After becoming just the seventh Miami quarterback to surpass 3,000 passing yards last season, Jacory Harris will try to build on last season and lead Miami to an ACC title and a BCS bowl.
The elusive junior quarterback passed for 3,352 yards, 24 touchdowns, and despite throwing 17 interceptions, was within one game of a potential trip to the Orange Bowl.
The 6'4" Harris will have plenty of room for improvement as he will attempt to cut down on his interceptions and maximize his production.
Only six offensive starters return for the Hurricanes and a tough, early slate of games await Miami. In order to return to national prominence, they must weather the storm.
Harris is dangerous both throwing and running the ball, so his athleticism can create opportunities for others to make big plays.
If Harris can stay healthy, limit mistakes, and navigate through a tough, early schedule, he could quickly become a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy and bring Miami back to national prominence.
14. Tyrod Taylor—Virginia Tech
Tyrod Taylor leads an extremely talented offense that might be the best head coach Frank Beamer has seen in his 24 seasons as head coach.
Leading this bunch is the 6'1", 217-pound Taylor, who threw for 2,311 yards, 13 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.
The senior quarterback had plenty of help from running back Ryan Williams, who surpassed 1,600 yards and finished with 21 scores last year. Taylor will have both Williams and the elusive Darren Evans in the backfield this season.
Williams and the dynamic running back duo will make up one of the best backfields in college football and will provide Taylor with plenty of opportunities to make plays.
Seven starters return for the Hokies including an experienced offensive line.
Virginia Tech is a top contender to win the ACC, and if Taylor and the offense can continue to wreak havoc on opposing defenses, the Hokies may find themselves in a BCS bowl game.
13. Greg McElroy—Alabama
Greg McElroy is an unprecedented 30-0 as a starter between college and high school and he will hope to lead another talented Alabama team to another undefeated championship season.
The 6'3", 225-pound senior completed 60.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
The Crimson Tide were heavily reliant on the potent rushing attack led by reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram. McElroy chose his spots and used his accuracy to pick apart defenses.
Eight offensive starters return, including all three starting wide receivers to give McElroy even more weapons to utilize.
The Tide have tough games at the beginning of the season which include Penn State and a road game against Arkansas, so McElroy will have early chances to once again impress.
Alabama is set on offense, but with the defense only returning two starters, the Tide may have to rely more on McElroy and the prolific Tide offense until the defense finds its identity.
If it does, Alabama has a great chance to repeat as national champions.
12. Ricky Stanzi—Iowa
Ricky Stanzi had Iowa in the center of the national championship discussion.
Stanzi would then suffer an ankle injury and was forced to leave the game against Northwestern and miss an important game against eventual Big Ten Champion Ohio State. Iowa would lose both games, knocking the Hawkeyes out of not only national title consideration, but also the Big Ten title.
Stanzi threw for 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as a junior last season, but his 18-4 record as a starter cannot be overlooked.
Now a senior, Stanzi returns with another year of experience and two explosive receivers. Derrell Johson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt will assist the 6'4" quarterback in a passing attack that finished 55th in the nation last season.
The defense is stifling and Stanzi is capable of making plays, but the offensive line may dictate how well Stanzi can perform.
If things go the Hawkeyes' way this season, Stanzi may find himself in Heisman Trophy consideration and Iowa could once again be in the center of national title contention.
11. Andy Dalton—TCU
Andy Dalton and the seventh ranked offense of TCU were one win away from an undefeated season and being given strong consideration of playing for a national title this year.
But this year's expectations may be even higher.
Dalton, and his 2,756 yards and 23 touchdowns, lead the Horned Frogs into 2010 with hopes of playing for the same national championship that eluded them one year ago.
The 6'3", 215-pound Dalton was one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award—which is given to the nation's best quarterback. He should shatter all passing records he does not already own at TCU.
With nine starters returning, Dalton's numbers should figure to be even higher than last season.
Despite impressive showings throughout last season, the senior was one of the most underrated quarterbacks. But he could become a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
Dalton is very athletic and makes smart plays on the field. If health is not a concern, look for the Horned Frogs to make another run at a perfect regular season.
This year, the reward could be much higher.
10. Blaine Gabbert—Missouri
Missouri fans had wondered who would be able to replace the great Chase Daniel at quarterback?
The emphatic answer was Blaine Gabbert, who led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and could potentially challenge Nebraska atop the Big 12 North.
Gabbert enjoyed success last season during his first year under center, passing for 3,593 yards and 24 touchdowns to only nine interceptions.
Gabbert is accurate, physical, and has one more year of experience under his belt.
Missouri returns eight starters from last year's offense. But one who is not returning is receiver Danario Alexander. Alexander played a big role in the development of Gabbert last year, but the Tiger offense will need to have several players help fill the void.
Gabbert should easily be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12, but if he stays healthy and builds on a successful first season as a starter, big things could be in store for Missouri.
9. Colin Kaepernick—Nevada
Colin Kaepernick may not be a household name in the eyes of college football fans, but if he continues his spectacular play, Nevada will almost certainly garner national respect.
Kaepernick threw for 2,052 yards, 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 16 more scores last season while leading the Wolf Pack to a respectable 8-5 record.
Nine offensive starters return to a Nevada squad that finished No. 1 in rushing in the nation last season.
Helping Kaepernick shoulder the offensive load will be running back Vai Taua, who punched in 10 touchdowns last season.
The dominant rushing attack for the Wolf Pack will give Kaepernick the opportunity to pick his spots and use his accurate passing ability.
Kaepernick may not be able to repeat his sky-high statistics from last season, but if he stays healthy and Nevada continues to win games in the WAC, he may be one of college football's most dangerous offensive players.
8. Christian Ponder—Florida State
Christian Ponder will be one of the most highly acclaimed quarterbacks in college football this season and could potentially become a Heisman candidate.
The first step he will take will be to look to lead the Seminoles to an improvement under new head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Ponder had a solid campaign in 2009, throwing for 2,717 yards, 14 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
He was the primary playmaker for the Florida State offense and with eight starters returning on that side of the ball, he should have plenty of help.
Ponder has excellent accuracy—he completed nearly 69 percent of his passes last season—and a strong arm necessary for producing big plays.
If he can lead Florida State to more wins this season and continue to improve, the senior quarterback Ponder will be looked at very closely as a first round, or top 10 in the NFL draft pick.
7. Terrelle Pryor—Ohio State
One of the most athletic quarterbacks in college football, Terrelle Pryor used his arms and legs to lead Ohio State to 11 wins and a win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
He will look to surpass those numbers as he hopes to lead the Buckeyes to Pasadena for an opportunity to win a national title.
Pryor had a stellar season in 2009, passing for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns while adding another seven scores on the ground.
Ohio State will remain one of the most dangerous offenses in the country as eight other starters return on offense, including dynamic running back Brandon Saine.
Pryor and the Buckeyes will have a stiff test early in the season as they host Miami (Fl.). Road games against conference foes Iowa and Wisconsin will make the path to a national championship tougher but will give Pryor and OSU multiple chances to shine brightly on a national stage.
If Pryor can lead Ohio State to another major bowl game, or the BCS Championship Game, a Heisman Trophy may be in his future.
6. Jerrod Johnson—Texas A&M
Jerrod Johnson led Texas A&M to a 6-7 record in the competitive Big 12 but if his increase in production is any indication, the Aggies should be much improved this season.
Johnson, a 6'5", 243-pound physical specimen, threw for 3,579 yards and 30 touchdowns, while adding eight more scores on the ground last season.
He passed for nine more touchdowns and threw for 1,100 yards more than in his sophomore season, a significant improvement for the senior.
In his final season, Johnson is one of only five returning starters on offense, but the dynamic duo of Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray return at running back, giving the Aggies one of the most dangerous backfields in the country.
The offensive line may be a concern as only two starters return to an otherwise inexperience unit, but Johnson's speed, strength, and athleticism will still provide the Aggies with plenty of opportunities to score.
While it may not be ready to challenge Oklahoma, Nebraska, or Texas for the Big 12 crown, Texas A&M, with Johnson under center, is definitely capable of surprising teams and fans this season.
5. Case Keenum—Houston
Case Keenum returns for his final season with Houston and will attempt to become the NCAA all-time leading passer.
Keenum and the Cougar offense lit up the scoreboard last season, as he passed for 5,671 and an astonishing 44 touchdowns.
He became only the second player in college football history to throw for 5,000 yards in two seasons and will attempt to finish his marvelous collegiate career with a third.
Houston finished last year first in passing, scoring, and total offense, and will hope to duplicate that feat this season.
The Cougars retain nine starters from last season, including a trio of 1,000 yard receivers. Tyron Carrier, James Cleveland, and Patrick Edwards all eclipsed the 1,000 yard plateau and combined for 27 scores.
Keenum will be one of the top NFL prospects among senior quarterbacks and could see his stock rise even further if he helps establish Houston as a program destined for national prominence.
4. Kellen Moore—Boise State
Kellen Moore led Boise State to an undefeated season, and although they were unable to compete for a national championship the Broncos will remain one of the most potent offenses in the country due to Moore's brilliant play.
As a sophomore last season, Moore threw for 39 touchdowns and only three interceptions while starting all 14 games for the Broncos.
Boise State may even be more talented this year as a remarkable 22 total starters return, including 10 on the offensive side of the ball.
Helping Moore run the offense are playmaking wide receivers, Austin Pettis and Titus Young, who combined for 24 scores, helping BSU become a dominant offensive unit.
Boise's season opener versus an athletic Virginia Tech team and three weeks later against Oregon State will be an early indicator as to how successful Moore and the Broncos can be this season.
If Moore can repeat the leadership and numbers that helped Boise State achieve an undefeated season once again, he and the Broncos cannot be denied at least strong consideration to play for a national championship.
3. Ryan Mallett—Arkansas
6'7" Ryan Mallett is extremely tall for a quarterback and will look to stand head and shoulders above all signal-callers at the end of this college football season.
Mallett put up astounding numbers as a sophomore last year for Arkansas, passing for 3,627 yards and 30 touchdowns while only throwing seven interceptions, while leading the Razorbacks to an 8-5 record and a Liberty Bowl win over East Carolina.
The Razorbacks return 18 total starters including nine on offense, helping Mallett to continue to make Arkansas one of the most prolific offenses in college football.
Four members of the offensive line return, which will help Mallett produce big plays and make great decisions.
Arkansas returns most of its team and will remain a contender in the crowded SEC, but if Mallett can produce similar, or even improve on his stellar numbers from last season, the Razorbacks could be a surprise team in the SEC.
2. Andrew Luck—Stanford
Andrew Luck had a fantastic freshman season with Stanford and will hope to eclipse his numbers in his second season under center.
Luck passed for 2,575 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions while leading the Cardinal to an 8-5 record and a berth in the Sun Bowl—which he had to miss due to injury.
The 6'4", 234-pounder has improved on his decision-making skills, helping him to become the focal point of the offense with workhorse running back Toby Gerhart now in the NFL.
Stanford has eight starters returning on offense, including four on the offensive line, which will provide Luck with plenty of playmakers and blockers to help him create opportunities for the offense.
If he decides to forgo his junior and senior seasons, expect Luck to be a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft.
Luck's grasp of the offense and his ability to be a playmaker will help the Cardinal be a better team and could translate into a better record in 2010.
1. Jake Locker—Washington
Jake Locker reaped the benefits of having head coach Steve Sarkisian implement an NFL-style offense.
Despite a 5-7 record in Sarkisian's first season as head coach, the Huskies made significant strides, most notably, on offense.
The 6'3", 226-pound senior threw for 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for an additional seven scores.
Locker completed 58.4 percent of his passes last season—nearly a 10 percent increase from his first two seasons with the Huskies.
Washington returns nine starters on offense, giving Locker plenty of options to increase his production from last season.
Locker is a potential No. 1 draft pick in next year's NFL Draft, but this season his play is essential as to whether the Huskies can become a contender in the competitive Pac-10.