Top 50 College Football Quarterbacks for 2011
Every season, talk rumbles throughout the college football landscape and many provide an opinionated view on who the best gunslinger is throughout the country. Heading into the 2011 season, college football is littered with talented quarterbacks that have the ability to take their team to the next level.
From the ACC to the PAC-12, to the WAC and a return trip to the MAC, quarterbacks with elite level talent are present in virtually every conference this season.
Today, we'll take a look at the players who possess those rare intangibles to march their teams down the field, smack their offensive linemen in the head and allow their teams to compete at a high level.
50. Chris Relf (Mississippi State Bulldogs)
In 2010, Chris Relf led Mississippi State to one of the best seasons in their history. He did so by developing into a solid passer and also by contributing with his feet as well.
Relf completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, and threw for 13 touchdowns while only throwing six interceptions. He also scampered for nearly 715 yards on the ground.
He has developed into a multi-faceted quarterback that gives a migraine to opposing defensive coordinators. A terror within the spread offense implemented by head coach Dan Mullen, Relf has the ability to be one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football's most dominant conference, the SEC.
Does he have the tools around him to lead the Bulldogs to another stellar finish? We will have to wait and see.
49. Corey Robinson (Troy Trojans)
Corey Robinson, a 6'1'', 215 pound product from Lone Oak High School in Paducah, Kentucky, burst onto the scene in 2010 with nearly 3,800 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions in his debut for the Trojans.
He showed uncanny accuracy and an innate ability to handle the huddle from his quarterback position. As the season progressed, he showed extreme development, culminating in one of the best performances in a bowl game from the quarterback position.
Robinson torched the Ohio Bobcats in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for nearly 400 yards and 4 touchdowns and showed the Trojan faithful what the future holds—a productive quarterback that can dominate the playing surface and will his team to new heights.
48. John Brantley (Florida Gators)
John Brantley arrived at the University of Florida with the talent to back up the immense hype that surrounded him throughout his high school career. A quarterback with a pedigree that suits the mold of a dominant pocket passer, Brantley was forced to play in Urban Meyer's spread offense.
Brantley struggled throughout the 2010 season, lost confidence and appeared to lose his ability. However, everything is trending in the opposite direction for Brantley heading into 2011.
Newly hired offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has entered into the fray, and will allow Brantley to operate from a more familiar pro-style formation. Weis has had tremendous success with quarterbacks throughout his career, and Brantley should be no different.
47. Brian Reader (Idaho Vandals)
Brian Reader is a name you may be surprised to see on this list. Hidden in the beautiful confines of Moscow—Moscow, Idaho that is. Reader has not received much publicity and has been given limited playing time. However, that should not dismiss his skill level.
Reader came to Idaho as a transfer from Monterey Peninsula Junior College, and showed his tremendous potential in limited action last season. He has all the tools needed to be a hidden gem in the WAC.
He should thrive under head coach Robb Akey and the Vandals offense.
46. Jordan Jefferson (Louisiana State Tigers)
Jordan Jefferson showed flashes of greatness during his 2009 sophomore campaign that had the Tiger faithful salivating at what the future held in store. However, the excellence of 2009 did not translate into the 2010 season.
Last year, Jefferson struggled to lead his offense in all areas—especially with accuracy and coverage reads. He was not maximizing his ability, yet the Tigers still managed to wiggle through the season and blast the Aggies of Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
Head coach Les Miles brought in Steve Kragthorpe as quarterbacks coach in order to have him tutor his young gunslinger, and also to help him reach his tremendous potential. But it appears to still be a work in progress. Jefferson was involved in a bar fight and could be facing potential disciplinary action.
Will this talented quarterback ever get it together? We will have to wait and see.
45. Zac Dysert (Miami (OH) Redhawks)
Zac Dysert, a 6'4", 209 pound junior is poised to enter the pantheon of talented Mid-American Conference quarterbacks. In 2010, Dysert led a tremendous turnaround in Oxford, Ohio, although he missed the latter half of the season, and is poised to show tremendous improvement heading into the 2011 campaign.
He is a heady quarterback with a strong arm and an innate ability to read the pre-snap coverage. Once his skills catch up to his mind, he will be a tremendous weapon on the field.
44. Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois Fighting Illini)
Scheelhaase entered the Illinois program with the typical surrounding hype given to a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. In his first season, he certainly proved that he is capable of living up to the hype.
Scheelhaase threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, but also scampered for nearly 900 yards in his debut last season. He is not your typical dual-threat quarterback because he has nice size to go with his shiftiness. He stands in the pocket at 6'3" which allows him to see over the line and provide a nice presence in the pocket.
Scheelhaase will challenge the likes of Michigan's Denard Robinson and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez for the title of the Big Ten's most talented dual-threat quarterback.
43. Jacory Harris (Miami Hurricanes)
Jacory Harris entered Miami with all the tools needed to be one of the top quarterbacks to ever play for the "U." However, following a strong sophomore campaign in 2009, things became unraveled.
Harris struggled throwing the ball to the appropriate team in 2010, and was forced to split time with Stephen Morris. It was not exactly the season anyone expected, considering he was being touted as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.
Now, Harris must deal with the recent drama that is surrounding the Miami Hurricane football program as well as a new coaching staff and the pressures from an unproductive 2010 season.
The natural ability still exists, but Harris must revive his mental abilities to become a productive quarterback once again.
42. Ryan Nassib (Syracuse Orange)
Lest year, Ryan Nassib took over the reigns for a downtrodden Syracuse football program that was looking for a new direction; and he produced. He led the Orange to one of their best seasons in a decade, including a thrilling bowl victory over Kansas State.
The 6'2", 229 pounder from West Chester, Pennsylvania came into his own throughout the season and tossed for nearly 2,400 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Nassib has an excellent handle on the offense, and is a strong leader in the huddle. The Orange lost a lot of talent, but with Nassib at the helm they can return to another bowl game.
41. Dayne Crist (Notre Dame Fighting Irish)
Dayne Crist has yet to officially seal down the job in South Bend, but the veteran is poised to do so and lead the Irish to their best season in years. The 6'4", 235 pound senior has all the tools and experience needed to lead the Irish offense in a positive direction.
Crist, who missed the latter half of the 2010 season, is by no means the next Brady Quinn. But he is one of the more intelligent quarterbacks in the country, and is surrounded by a ton of talent to help maximize his skills.
40. B.J. Daniels (South Florida Bulls)
B.J. Daniels burst onto the scene with the South Florida Bulls in 2009, and had the faithful fans in Tampa salivating over his tremendous skills. The dual-threat quarterback willed the Bulls to several wins in his freshman campaign and was expected to place himself among the country's elite in 2010.
However, after switching to the Skip Holtz led offense, Daniels struggled through a terrible sophomore slump and regressed in every single statistical category.
The folks in Tampa are optimistic that he will fare much better in 2011, after having a full season within the new system. But the optimism stems mainly from the fact that he is too talented to not produce at a high level once again.
39. Jordan Wynn (Utah Utes)
This season, Jordan Wynn takes his Utah Utes to the confines of the newly formed PAC-12 conference and is ready to place himself, and his team, on a higher stage. Wynn has shown the ability to throw the ball accurately as well as an ability to protect his team's offensive possessions throughout his young career, but now it is time to take his game to the next level.
He is entering his third season as a starter and has matured nicely during his first two seasons. Now, entering his third season, he has the opportunity to join some of the most talented quarterbacks in the country in the PAC-12.
Wynn has the tools, but how will he handle the speed of the PAC-12 defenses? That will be the key to his season.
38. Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State Red Wolves)
You may be thinking, "Who the heck is Ryan Aplin?" Well, if you have yet to watch the kid from Arkansas State play the game of football, you don't know what you're missing. A multi-faceted quarterback with an ability to sling the ball all over the field, Aplin is the complete package.
Hidden away in the Sun Belt Conference, Aplin began to progress into one of the more productive quarterbacks in the country throughout 2010, and is headed for a spectacular 2011.
37. James Vandenberg (Iowa Hawkeyes)
James Vandenberg, a 6'3", 212 pound junior from Keokuk, Iowa, has been waiting for the opportunity to finally take over the Iowa Hawkeyes offense, and he will finally be granted the keys in 2011. Vandenberg has been tutored by the talented Ricky Stanzi and has the natural tools to replicate the production of his mentor.
Vandenberg would have been a starting quarterback at the majority of schools around the country. Yet good players are forced to sit behind better players in certain situatoins, and that appeared to be the case with Vandenberg.
36. Jeff Tuel (Washington State Cougars)
There have been numerous issues that have surrounded the Washington State Cougar football program throughout the last decade. However, Jeff Tuel's play in 2010 was not one of those concerns.
Tuel, who showed more grit than any quarterback in the country, was sacked 51 times in 2010! Yes, 51! Yet even without an offensive line or a running game, he still was able to surpass the 2,700 yard mark and also rushed for nearly 500 yards—losing half of that production from sacks.
Tuel has the potential to surpass the 3,000 yard mark in 2011, especially if he receives better protection up front.
35. Ryan Katz (Oregon State Beavers)
Ryan Katz, in his first year on the job, spent much of the 2010 season taking punishing hits and picking himself up off the ground in. Yet he still managed to throw for 2,400 yards and 17 touchdowns in his sophomore debut.
Heading into 2011, Katz and the Beaver faithful are hopeful that the offensive line play will improve along with him behind center. He showed an accurate and lively arm, even under duress, and his decision making improved throughout the season for Coach Mike Riley.
Katz has the ability to lead the Beavers back to their status as one of the PAC-12's best, and Oregon State will most likely be a bowl participant in 2011.
34. A.J. McCarron (Alabama Crimson Tide)
The loss of Greg McElroy, a winner on the field and in the locker room, would be a diffcult person to replace for most football programs. However, most football programs are not Alabama.
A.J. McCarron, a highly touted, 6'4", 205 pound sophomore, received limited action during 2010, but he was spectacular when he was on the field. His performance against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl gave the Rammer Jammer faithful a look into their promising future.
McCarron, if given the opportunity, will quickly develop into one of the premier quarterbacks in the SEC, and maybe even the country. His skill set is undeniable, and he is surrounded with NFL talent, making his job one of the easiest at the FBS level.
33. MarQueis Gray (Minnesota Golden Gophers)
MarQueis Gray, a 6'4", 240 pound junior from Indianapolis, is finally taking the reigns of the quarterback position for the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. Fans are ecstatic to see him with the ball in his hands.
Gray is a dynamic athlete—he produced from the wide receiver position in 2010—that will provide the Gophers with a solid dual-threat from the quarterback position.
If Gray receives decent play from his other skill position players, he could be in for a big season.
32. Alex Carder (Western Michigan Broncos)
The Mid-American Conference has a reputation for developing quality quarterbacks that produce at a high level and eventually make their way to the NFL. Alex Carder has now shown the ability to enter that exclusive company.
The 6'2", 224 pound junior burst onto the scene last season with a magnificent sophomore campaign for the Broncos, throwing for over 3,330 yards and 30 touchdowns, including several 300 yard games.
Carder has high hopes to expand upon his brilliant 2010 numbers and place even more W's in the column in 2011.
31. Garrett Gilbert (Texas Longhorns)
Heading into the 2010 season, no one would have predicted the struggles that surrounded Garrett Gilbert and the Texas program. However, they have placed last year firmly in the rear-view mirror and are attempting to move forward.
Gilbert struggled significantly in every facet of the game in 2010, but the tools are still there to be an excellent quarterback. Still, he must regain his confidence.
Gilbert appears ready to correct his sophomore slump and use his god-given skills to lead the Longhorns back to respectability.
30. Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech Hokies)
His action has been limited, but his talent cannot be denied. The 6'6", 240 pound quarterback from Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia has all the tools needed to be a dominant quarterback at the FBS level.
Comparing him to Cam Newton may be a bit extreme, but he does possess many of the same abilities: fleet of foot, cannon for a right arm and prototypical size.
Thomas, who actually was recruited to Virginia Tech as a tight end, made the transition to quarterback when they were pressed for numbers at the position. He immediately displayed a natural talent at the position.
Will this young sophomore live up to the lofty expectations? He has all the tools at his disposal to make it happen.
29. Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois Football)
Chandler Harnish, one of college football's most underrated players, has been leading the NIU Huskies program since his freshman campaign in 2008. Most people have not had the opportunity to watch the talented Harnish work on the football field, and they are missing something special.
The multi-faceted quarterback is smart, accurate and has the wheels to break a big play with his feet, making him a true all-around quarterback. He finished the 2010 season with over 2,500 yards passing and 836 yards rushing. He also threw for 21 touchdown passes, compared to just five interceptions, while leading the Huskies to another bowl game.
He enters the 2011 season with three years starting experience and a talented returning cast. Harnish is poised to lead the Huskies toward a MAC Championship.
28. Tyler Wilson (Arkansas Razorbacks)
Tyler Wilson has been granted the keys to the program, following the departure of Ryan Mallett, and rumors are swirling that he drives very well.
Wilson showed his ability in limited action in 2010, including a 300 yard game versus the eventual national champion Auburn Tigers. He has the natural ability needed to be a quality starting quarterback at the FBS level, and he has the luxury of being tutored by one of the country's best teachers, head coach Bobby Petrino.
If Wilson maximizes the potential he flashed in 2010, he will quickly enter the upper echelon of SEC quarterbacks.
27. Sean Renfree (Duke Blue Devils)
In his first season as a full-time starter for the Duke Blue Devils in 2010, Sean Renfree suffered through the normal growing pains of a collegiate quarterback. Inaccurate reads, interceptions and three and outs were not uncommon. However, everything eventually clicked for Renfree.
He finished the season strong, competing at a high level versus quality defenses while showing the ability to move his offense up and down the field, demonstrating his quick maturation.
Much is expected from Renfree heading into the 2011 season, especially under the continued tutelage of head coach David Cutcliffe. Renfree has the opportunity to lead the Blue Devils toward a fight for bowl eligibility and be one of the more potent offenses in the ACC.
26. Kyle Padron (SMU Mustangs)
The same question always revolves around a quarterback that plays under the June Jones system, "Is he a system quarterback?" The majority of the time the answer is an resounding yes. However, Kyle Padron appears to be different.
Blessed with a prototypical frame, 6'4", 235 pounds, a strong and accurate right arm, and excellent football IQ, the junior from Southlake, Texas is a solid and proven commodity at the quarterback position.
He tossed for nearly 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns during his sophomore year in 2010, and is a hidden gem in Conference-USA.
25. Russell Wilson (Wisconsin Badgers)
The last thing opposing teams in the Big Ten wanted to hear were the words, "Russell Wilson chooses Wisconsin." However, that wish was not granted and Wilson has officially given the Badgers a serious weapon to go along with their dominant rushing attack after his transfer from North Carolina State.
Wilson, while inconsistent, has provided a solid threat from the quarterback position throughout his three years of experience, all garnered with the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
He now enters a Wisconsin program that has an opportunity to be a BCS Championship contender with him at the helm. Playing quarterback for the Badgers will be a much different experience for Wilson—he will not be asked to win ball games, but manage them.
Can Wilson learn to make the smart throw? That is the question.
24. Denard Robinson (Michigan Wolverines)
Talk about starting with a bang. Denard Robinson hit the ground running in the Big House and did his best Forrest Gump impression by never stopping. Robinson, listed generously at 6'1" and 193 pounds, rushed for nearly 1,800 yards, but also showed his ability as a passer--eclipsing the 2,500 yard mark.
With that being said, Robinson will always be remembered for the plays he made with his feet, which were astonishing at times.
If former head coach Rich Rodriguez was still in charge, Robinson would be considered one of the early favorites for the Heisman Trophy. However, the transition to new head coach Brady Hoke's new pro-style offense will hinder Robinson's ability at times. Basically, there is no way he replicates the numbers of 2010 in this system, hence his lower ranking.
23. Taylor Martinez (Nebraska Cornhuskers)
Is he more of a runner than a passer? The same question that could be applied to the previous quarterback, Denard Robinson, can be applied in this situation.
Taylor Martinez had the ability to be as dynamic as any quarterback in the country when running the ball in 2010, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards—including a 241 yard performance against Kansas State.
Questions still remain whether he can become a solid passing quarterback at this level, but his play-making ability earns him this spot.
22. Bryant Moniz (Hawaii Rainbow Warriors)
Former head coach June Jones developed a system in Hawaii that was tailor made for producing ridiculous numbers at the quarterback position. Jones has been gone since 2007, but the drum still beats on at America's favorite vacation destination.
Bryant Moniz has stepped in and nearly duplicated the numbers produced by his predecessors, Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan, and still has his senior year remaining. In the 2010 season, Moniz torched defenses for over 5,000 yards and 39 touchdowns in an impressive aerial assault against Western Athletic Conference foes.
Moniz will continue to put up impressive stats in the air-raid offense that is being employed by the Warriors.
21. Zach Collaros (Cincinnati Bearcats)
Zach Collaros first hit the scene when former head coach Brian Kelly was roaming the sidelines and Tony Pike was receiving snaps from center. Pike was forced out with an injury in 2009, and Collaros was called upon to lead a surging Bearcat program. The Bearcats continued to play excellent ball with Collaros at the helm, and the future of the quarterback position was in good hands.
Collaros continued his stellar play throughout the 2010 season, but the team struggled mightily to match his consistency.
Heading into 2011, hopes are high for a turn around, and Collaros will be the man leading the charge.
20. Stephen Garcia (South Carolina Gamecocks)
Stephen Garcia, quarterback of the South Carolina Gamecocks, has experienced a tumultuous ride throughout his time in Columbia that has included several off the field incidents—one as recently as this offseason.
Thankfully for Gamecock fans, he was reinstated by head coach Steve Spurrier prior to the start of fall practice and is ready to lead South Carolina toward another SEC East championship.
Garcia, a 6'2", 232 pound senior, provides a veteran presence on the field and makes the offense flow. Sure, he has moments where his accuracy and decision-making are less than stellar, but that does not remove the positives from his game.
Garcia has the ability to make South Carolina a BCS contender once again.
19. Danny O'Brien (Maryland Terrapins)
There were several talented freshmen quarterbacks throughout the country in 2010, but Danny O'Brien of the Maryland Terrapins may have shown the most polish. The 6'3", 215 pound quarterback from Kernersville, North Carolina led a turnaround in College Park that nearly saved the job of departed head coach Ralph Friedgen.
He slung the ball around the field for nearly 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns while only playing in 10 games for the Terrapins.
The only question for O'Brien heading into the 2011 season revolves around the coaching change. Newly hired Randy Edsall is a run-first oriented coach, and O'Brien's play may suffer due to the new system.
18. E.J. Manuel (Florida State Seminoles)
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has the Florida State faithful excited for football season again, and for good reason. There is a ton of talent returning to Tallahassee this season, and E.J. Manuel is ready to become the quarterback for the Seminoles.
Fans have been yearning to see the 6'5", 245 pound junior from Virginia Beach, Virginia on the field full-time since he arrived on campus. They have seen him play in spurts and have come away impressed, intrigued and optimistic about his future.
Manuel has all the tools needed to be one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the country.
17. Tyler Bray (Tennessee Volunteers)
Young, brash, arrogant. All the good qualities that a young, gun-slinging quarterback possesses. Tyler Bray, the 6'6", 210 pound quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers is laced with all those qualities and more.
He was forced into action due to poor play by Matt Sims during head coach Derek Dooley's first season, and thrived from the moment he stepped onto the field.
As the season progressed, Bray's tremendous ability began to shine through. He closed the season with over 300 yards passing in four of the last five games, including a dominating performance in the Music City Bowl. Following a summer of maturation, the sky is the limit for Bray.
16. Geno Smith (West Virginia Mountaineers)
Even while fighting through injuries in 2010, Geno Smith still produced at an efficient clip for the West Virginia Mountaineers. The 6'3", 214 pound quarterback from Miami, Florida threw for nearly 2,800 yards and 24 touchdowns in his first year as the full-time starter in Morgantown.
Heading into 2011, Smith will begin his first season under the tutelage of Dana Holgorsen, the new head coach for WVU. Holgorsen has used his potent offenses to make quite a name for himself and hopes are high in his debut season.
Holgorsen has made a habit of producing 5,000 yard quarterbacks. Will Smith be next on the list?
15. Aaron Murray (Georgia Bulldogs)
Some may believe that this spot is too high for the youngster from Georgia. But following a tremendous debut during his freshman season in 2010, the sky is the limit for Murray.
He has all the natural tools, except a few extra inches, needed to become one of the country's most prized commodities. The 6'1", 210 pound quarterback from Tampa, Florida established himself as one of the SEC's elite quarterbacks with a strong arm and a mature level of decision making during his freshman season.
Murray has a ton of weapons at his disposal, even with the loss of the talented A.J. Green to the NFL, and is poised to earn First Team All-SEC honors this season.
14. G.J. Kinne (Tulsa Hurricanes)
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane have developed a reputation for possessing a potent passing attack that routinely keeps them in ball games versus more talented counterparts. G.J. Kinne continued that tradition in 2009 and 2010.
The 6'2", 235 pound quarterback from Mesquite, Texas brought a potency to the Hurricane air attack and shredded opposing defenses to the tune of 3,650 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was the best player in the C-USA in 2010.
Tulsa finished their season with a 10-3 mark and a dominating performance over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.
Kinne returns, surrounded by another talented nucleus, and is armed and ready to continually place 50 or more points on the board.
13. Dan Persa (Northwestern)
Dan Persa entered the 2010 season as an unknown with hopes of continuing Northwestern's growing tradition of reaching a bowl game and becoming an increasingly annoying pest for the prominent schools in the Big Ten.
Persa was magnificent through the first ten games of the season before succumbing to an injury and being forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the year.
He re-enters the fray in 2011 with a talented supporting cast and another year of experience under his belt. Persa seems poised to lead a high-scoring Wildcat attack. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald, one of the most underrated coaches in the country, will always place Persa in the most logical situations, and Persa will produce at an effective clip.
12. Darron Thomas (Oregon Ducks)
Replacing Jermiah Masoli coming into the 2010 season was expected to be an issue for head coach Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks. But those worries quickly dissipated once Darron Thomas stepped on the turf at Autzen Stadium.
During a talented sophomore campaign, Thomas threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, and led the Ducks to the BCS Championship game.
The 6'3", 215 pound quarterback from Houston, Texas returns for his junior season, surrounded by talent, and is ready to explode in the potent Oregon attack. If he maximizes his ability, he will be in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy, and Oregon will once again be fighting for the national championship.
11. Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M Aggies)
Jerrod Johnson firmly had the keys in the ignition and was ready to lead the Aggies from College Station toward one of their most successful seasons in the last decade. However, he struggled holding onto the ball and the team was struggling to place mark in the win column.
Head coach Mike Sherman, frustrated by the inconsistent play, turned to Ryan Tannehill and the Aggies' season immediately changed for the better.
Tannehill led the Aggies on a run to the Cotton Bowl and showed America that he was an undiscovered gem at the quarterback position. During half a season's work, Tannehill threw for 1,638 yards and 13 touchdowns, and was the driving force behind the Aggies' strong play.
He enters this season surrounded by a ton of talented weapons, and is ready to have a tremendous season and lead the Aggies toward a possible Big 12 championship.
10. Case Keenum (Houston Cougars)
Case Keenum was the man behind the wheel of a high powered Houston offense during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, tossing for over 10,000 yards and 88 touchdowns during that time. He was being primed as a Heisman Trophy candidate heading into 2010 and was ready to help Houston contend for a BCS bowl berth. But it all came crashing down in the third game of the season.
Keenum tore his ACL and was forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the year, and possibly his career. However, he was granted a sixth year of eligibility and returns armed and ready for another dominating season in 2011.
Keenum will consistently put up absurd stats in the Houston offense, His talent is undeniable.
He is surrounded with enough talent in the Cougar offense to return without missing a beat, and he will continue to compete for the title of "America's best quarterback."
9. Robert Griffin (Baylor Bears)
Dynamic. Playmaker. Vince Young?
Robert Griffin III is in the process of transforming an entire culture that surrounds a downtrodden football program. Using his legs, a strong right arm, and innate leadership abilities, Griffin has dominated from under center and has turned Baylor's offense into one of the most powerful forces in the Big 12.
During the 2010 season, Griffin assaulted opposing secondaries to the tune of 3,500 yards and 22 touchdowns, and lead Baylor to a rare bowl appearance. Returning from a knee injury that affected him in 2009, Griffin had not completely regained his dynamic rushing ability, but still scurried for 635 yards.
Heading into 2011, Griffin has had another year to recover and is the most dominant dual-threat quarterback in the country. The comparisons to Vince Young will come strong and fast throughout this season.
8. Kellen Moore (Boise State)
If you can think of one word to describe Boise State's Kellen Moore, efficiency would be the name of the game. Moore has defined the quarterback position during his time with the Broncos with his accuracy and smarts. He may not have the strongest arm among the quarterbacks in his class, nor is he a dynamic athlete that will scamper 75 yards on a broken play, but he always makes the right decision.
Moore has posted a completion percentage near 70% throughout his career and assaulted the Bronco record book with 99 touchdowns, compared to just 19 interceptions. He has also passed for 11,000 yards in his three year career.
He has lost several of his offensive weapons from last season and it will be interesting to see how he handles life without Titus Young and Austin Pettis. Thankfully for Moore, Boise State always reloads instead of rebuilds.
7. Ryan Lindley (San Diego State Aztecs)
Under the tutelage of former head coach Brady Hoke, Ryan Lindley developed and thrived into one of the most productive quarterbacks in the entire country. The 6'4", 230 pound quarterback from Alpine, California showed an uncanny ability to get rid of the ball and still remaining accurate under pressure. He was sacked just nine times in 2010.
Lindley torched defenses for over 3,800 yards and 28 touchdowns, and led the Aztecs to one of their best seasons since the days of the great Marshall Faulk.
Hoke has departed for greener pastures, but Lindley still has the ability to continue leading the Aztecs on an upward trend.
6. Kirk Cousins (Michigan State Spartans)
Kirk Cousins has developed into the most popular young man on the East Lansing campus over the last two seasons. He has been a calm and collective customer off the field as well as on the gridiron, developing a reputation that every student athlete should admire.
In 2010, Cousins threw for over 2,800 yards and 20 touchdowns—leading Michigan State to a three-way tie for the Big Ten crown. He underachieved in the Capital One Bowl versus Alabama and is returning with a chip on his shoulder this season.
He is the most talented quarterback in the Big Ten and should challenge for Player of the Year honors.
5. Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State Cowboys)
Prior to the 2010 season, most people had yet to hear the name Brandon Weeden. However, under the tutelage of former offensive coordinator Dana Hologorsen, Weeden quickly became a household name during his junior season.
The 6'4", 220 pound senior dominated defenses with deadly accuracy and an array of weapons to target. He torched defenses for over 4,200 yards and 34 touchdowns in leading Oklahoma State to another superb season. He has returned in order to continue shredding collegiate defenses in 2011.
It will be interesting to see how Weeden performs without Hologorsen calling the plays, but the skill-set is there for another tremendous season.
4. Nick Foles (Arizona Wildcats)
Nick Foles, even during Arizona's 2010 collapse, was still the epitome of consistency at the quarterback position. The 6'5", 240 pounder has the ideal size to lead a team from under center and has shown a propensity to keep his team in ball games.
He has managed to maintain this consistent play with another talented quarterback, Matt Scott, chomping at his heels.
Foles is another one of the great quarterbacks that is currently playing on the western side of the country. With another strong season, he is poised to charge up the NFL draft boards and enter the discussion of premier quarterbacks in the country.
3. Matt Barkley (USC Trojans)
USC produces elite college football quarterbacks as often as the grass grows. When one departs, another quickly steps into their place. And now it is Matt Barkley's time to shine.
Barkley's tremendous improvement between his freshman and sophomore campaigns has garnered him high praise heading into 2011.
The 6'2", 220 pound gunslinger showed improved accuracy and decision making throughout the season, and slid in nicely to head coach Lane Kiffin and company's new system. He was the number one rated high school quarterback in the country during his senior season at Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, California), and that immense talent is beginning to rise to the surface.
2. Landry Jones (Oklahoma Sooners)
Landry Jones was forced into action during his freshman campaign in 2009 following a Sam Bradford injury, and immediately showed he was ready for the limelight.
As a 6'4", 229 pound freshman, Jones entered the fray and his play provided all the evidence needed. He was primed to become the next great Sooner quarterback.
Jones threw for over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2009 during his trial by fire, and continued the great play during his sophomore season laden with Heisman Trophy discussion. He lived up to the hype and became one of the country's most dominant quarterbacks last season, throwing for over 4,700 yards and 38 touchdowns while leading a dominant offensive attack.
Jones returns for his junior season and is firmly entrenched in the Heisman Trophy race. He has an opportunity to lead his team toward another BCS Championship, and is poised to showcase himself to NFL scouts across the country.
1. Andrew Luck (Stanford Cardinal)
Luck is the closest thing to Peyton Manning since Peyton himself. Andrew Luck developed his game under the tutelage of former head coach Jim Harbaugh, and never looked back.
Luck uses his 6'4", 235 pound frame to his advantage in all phases of the game. He has a cannon for a right arm, but can also scramble when a play breaks down—conforming to the old adage, "he can make something out of nothing."
Luck threw for over 3,330 yards and 32 touchdowns during his junior campaign and passed up the opportunity to be the first pick taken in the 2010 NFL Draft in order to return to Stanford and lead his team toward a shot at a national championship.
He is the most complete quarterback in college football, and is NFL ready in all facets of the game.