50 Best College Football Quarterbacks from the 2011 Season
With college bowl season just around the corner, it's a good time to reflect on what exactly we witnessed during the regular season.
Robert Griffin III being awarded the Heisman Trophy over season-long-favorite Andrew Luck bares testament to the strong quarterback play this college season has provided.
When ranking the top 50 quarterbacks who played this season, there's really no definite list you can make. The rankings will always be subjective.
With that being said, the way I comprised this list was on the basis of statistics, win/loss record and their importance to their team.
Let the discussions begin!
No. 50: Corey Robinson (Troy)
2011 Statistics: 3,411 passing yards; 22 total TDs, 15 INTs; 62.2 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 3-9
It was a disappointing season for Troy, who had to be coming into this season feeling good after a New Orleans Bowl victory over Ohio last season.
After quarterback Corey Robinson's breakout freshman season, his sophomore season really didn't look much different. Robinson threw for just over 300 more yards last season and for seven more touchdowns, but he also sat out this year's final game against Arkansas State.
Both Troy and Robinson will continue to improve, though. Hopefully the Trojans will get back on track next season.
No. 49: Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee (LSU)
2011 Statistics, Jefferson: 684 passing yards; 248 rushing yards; 9 total TDs, 1 INT; 60.2 completion percentage
2011 Statistics, Lee: 1,306 passing yards; 14 TDs, 3 INTs; 62.3 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 13-0 (SEC Champs)
At least I didn't put them at No. 50, right, LSU fans? In fact, I likely could have kept them off this list entirely. However, LSU isn't No. 1 and undefeated solely because of their defense.
Somebody (or in this case, two somebodies) has to run the offense. Lee has been the more impressive passer, while Jefferson has looked like the most talented of the two.
Granted, LSU proved in the SEC championship game that they don't necessarily need a quarterback to win a game handily. Jefferson completed five passes for 30 yards in that game, but LSU won by 32 points.
That's kind of scary, but also kind of sad. Take your pick.
No. 48: Colby Cameron (Louisiana Tech)
2011 Statistics: 1,403 passing yards; 11 TDs, 2 INTs; 56.4 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 8-4, 5-0 as a starter (WAC Champs)
LA Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has only started five games for the Bulldogs, but he completely turned around their season.
After starting the season off 3-4 under freshman quarterback Nick Isham, head coach Sonny Dykes decided it was time to give Cameron a chance. Needless to say, he wasn't disappointed.
Cameron led the Bulldogs to their first WAC championship since 2001 and their first bowl appearance since 2008. His completion percentage could be better, but it's hard to argue with what he's accomplished in a short amount of time.
No. 47: Tyler Bray (Tennessee)
2011 Statistics: 1,983 passing yards; 18 total TDs, 6 INTs; 59.5 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 5-7, 4-3 as a starter
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray sat out five games this season with a thumb injury, and it happened to come at the worst time for the Volunteers. After starting the season 3-2 under Bray, the Volunteers had to play LSU, Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas without Bray in the starting lineup.
It wasn't pretty, and let's face it: Tennessee likely wouldn't have won any of those games even with Bray under center. However, there's no doubt Bray would have at least managed to make the games closer.
Bray's stats in a limited amount of time this season speak to the potential that he has. Bray is only a sophomore, so the Vols have him around for another two years. In that time, I wouldn't be surprised if Bray improves enough to be a top-five quarterback in the country.
No. 46: Connor Shaw (South Carolina)
2011 Statistics: 1,218 passing yards; 483 rushing yards; 19 total TDs, 6 INTs; 65.5 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-2, 7-1 as a starter
Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw had a tough start to the season. He was named the starter in South Carolina's season opener against East Carolina, but after a rough first half, head coach Steve Spurrier decided it was time to let veteran Stephen Garcia take the reigns.
Garcia's play resulted in a Gamecocks victory, and that earned him four more starts. Even though the Gamecocks only lost one game with Garcia under center, his underwhelming play let Shaw slide back in as the starter.
Once back as a starter, he didn't disappoint. Shaw led his team to a 10-2 record, which in any other year would be a great finish. However, it was only good enough for a fifth-place finish in the SEC this season.
Yeah, I suppose it's a pretty good conference.
No. 45: Tanner Price (Wake Forest)
2011 Statistics: 2,803 passing yards; 21 total TDs, 6 INTs; 60.9 completion percentage
6-6Team W/L Record: 6-6
Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price had a really solid sophomore season. Price improved on the Demon Deacons' last season's record (3-9) by three games, and I won't be surprised if Price helps the Deacons contend for an ACC title before he graduates.
Price's impressive play this season put Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl against Mississippi State. If Price is able to lead his team to a bowl victory over a decent SEC team, his No. 45 ranking on this list may have to be changed.
Look for Price to be in the top 20 on this list next season.
No. 44: Zac Dysert (Miami-OH)
2011 Statistics: 3,513 passing yards; 27 total TDs, 11 INTs; 65.8 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 4-8
It was a tough season for Zac Dysert and the Miami (OH) RedHawks. Going into the season, the RedHawks were the favorites to win the MAC, but starting the season off 0-4 didn't exactly help their cause.
Miami (OH) seemed to turn it around towards the end of the season with victories over Buffalo and Akron and close losses to Temple, Western Michigan and Ohio.
Fortunately, Dysert will get another chance to turn things around when he comes back for his senior season. Statistically, Dysert was great and improved in every category. He will get a shot to put his team back on the map, so let's hope that happens.
No. 43: Brock Osweiler (Arizona State)
2011 Statistics: 3,641 passing yards; 27 total TDs, 12 INTs; 63.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 6-6
It was an up-and-down kind of year for Arizona State. The Sun Devils managed to beat teams like USC and Missouri, while losing games to teams like Washington State and in-state rival Arizona (at home, nonetheless).
After losing their last four games of the season, the Sun Devils failed to reach the conference championship game. However, the play of junior quarterback Brock Osweiler should be the silver lining.
In his first year as a starter, Osweiler posted good numbers and showed room for improvement. Arizona State actually just hired Todd Graham, who coached at Pittsburgh this season, as their new head coach. Graham led the Panthers to a very similar 6-6 season. Let's hope Graham can work with Osweiler and make him even better.
Also, Osweiler is 6'8" and 240 pounds. Can we all argue that THAT is ridiculous? Thank you.
No. 42: Bryant Moniz (Hawaii)
2011 Statistics: 2,733 passing yards; 293 rushing yards; 30 total TDs, 5 INTs; 62.5 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 6-7, 5-5 as a starter
After throwing for over 5,000 yards last season, Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz had a significantly more disappointing junior season.
Granted, Moniz did sit out the final three games of the season, but even had he played, his numbers wouldn't have been even close to last season. Still, almost 3,000 yards passing, 300 yards rushing, 30 total TDs and only five interceptions is a great season.
Unfortunately, Moniz is a senior, so this was his last attempt to make a name for himself and show what he can do. Hopefully, Moniz will get healthy enough in time for the combine.
No. 41: B.J. Daniels (South Florida)
2011 Statistics: 2,604 passing yards; 601 rushing yards; 19 total TDs, 7 INTs; 58.9 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 5-7
B.J. Daniels had a lot of hype around him as he came out of high school. Unfortunately, the dual-threat quarterback just hasn't put it all together since his college debut. This season was definitely a step in the right direction, though.
Daniels will have one more shot when he comes back next season as a senior, and hopefully everything will fall into place. Daniels only threw for 13 touchdowns this season, but because he's a fantastic runner, his 19 total touchdowns to seven interceptions doesn't look too bad.
Then you look at his completion percentage. It could definitely be better. I assume that it will be next season, but he has to start leading his team to victories over decent conference opponents. This season, the Bulls had one nice victory: Notre Dame. However, they couldn't beat Pittsburgh, UConn, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Miami, Louisville or West Virginia.
Better luck next year.
No. 40: Taylor Martinez (Nebraska)
2011 Statistics: 1,973 passing yards; 837 rushing yards; 21 total TDs, 7 INTs; 55.9 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 9-3
In their first year in the Big 10 conference, the Nebraska Cornhuskers finished with a record of 9-3, which was good enough for a No. 20 BCS ranking and a Capital One bowl bid against No. 9 South Carolina.
Leading his team to a solid record and a bowl bid in a new conference is the only reason Martinez is No. 40 on this list. I acknowledge the fact that his stats aren't terrible, especially for a dual-threat quarterback, but his 55.9 completion percentage is awful, and for anyone who watched Nebraska this year, you know what I mean.
Martinez doesn't have a very good arm...at all. However, the combination of his arms and legs are what led Nebraska to nine victories. Well, that, and a lot of Rex Burkhead.
Martinez is only a sophomore, though. He has plenty of time to work on his overall game.
No. 39: Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)
2011 Statistics: 2,799 passing yards; 416 rushing yards; 29 total TDs, 9 INTs; 59.2 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-2
In his first year as a starting quarterback, Logan Thomas went through ups and downs. Thomas showed positive signs this year, but there are a few things he needs to work on: accuracy and winning big games.
Before the season started, Virginia Tech seemingly had the easiest schedule of any contender—if the Hokies didn't go undefeated, it was likely to be a disappointing season.
However, Clemson turned out to be a legitimate team, and the Hokies were completely upended by the Tigers in their first meeting. This happened to be one of Thomas' worst performances of the year.
Fortunately, he had his chance at revenge in the ACC championship game. Alas, he still couldn't get the job done. So, in Virginia Tech's two biggest games this season (and only big games, really), Thomas was 0-2.
But hey, good thing they were awarded with a BCS bowl, right? Ridiculous. Thomas did have a decent season, though, and being a sophomore (like everyone else on this list) gives him plenty of time to grow as a quarterback.
No. 38: AJ McCarron (Alabama)
2011 Statistics: 2,400 passing yards; 18 total TDs, 5 INTs; 66.7 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-1
This might be a little too high for AJ McCarron. His stats don't look too awful, especially his 18 touchdowns to only five interceptions, but for anybody who watched an Alabama game, it's blatant that McCarron doesn't have a very good arm.
Maybe that has something to do with playing against quality SEC defenses every week, or having a Heisman candidate in the backfield but, whatever the case, McCarron didn't do anything to keep Alabama OUT of the national championship.
Would Alabama be unstoppable with a better quarterback? It's likely. As for now, though, I'll concede and put McCarron at No. 38, commending him on a job well done this season.
Oh yeah, did I mention he's a sophomore? Seriously, who isn't a sophomore on this list?!
No. 37: Bryn Renner (North Carolina)
2011 Statistics: 2,769 passing yards; 24 total TDs, 12 INTs; 68.8 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 7-5
Just to let you know upfront, Renner is...wait for it...a sophomore. I'm putting Renner ahead of both Logan Thomas and AJ McCarron because he had a decent season with very little to work with.
Also, of the Tarheels' five losses, only one of them was an actual butt-kicking (Clemson). All the rest were winnable games that happened to fall the other way.
Renner's first season as a starting quarterback showed signs of promise, like the win against Wake Forest that Renner completed 21-of-28 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
With Renner under center, UNC will have a chance to climb back into the rankings next season.
No. 36: Dominique Davis (East Carolina)
2011 Statistics: 3,225 passing yards; 30 total TDs, 19 INTs; 67.6 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 5-7
I feel bad for Dominique Davis. After having such an impressive junior year (wait, he's not a sophomore?), Davis had a relatively underwhelming senior season.
The blame can't be put on Davis, though. With a depleted roster, he was still able to throw for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. To be fair, he did throw the ball just over 100 less times this year compared to last, but I digress...
I believe that Davis is going to be a guy who gets drafted somewhere in the fifth, sixth or seventh round after a good showing at the combine. He's likely going to be a backup for a few years, but in the right system, Davis is going to be a good quarterback at the next level.
No. 35: Seth Doege (Texas Tech)
2011 Statistics: 4,004 passing yards; 32 total TDs, 10 INTs; 68.5 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 5-7
I had a hard time debating on where to put Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege on this list.
On one hand, he threw for over 4,000 yards this season. On the other hand, he plays in a spread offense that lives and dies by the pass.
One one hand, he had a pretty decent completion percentage, so even though he's in the spread attack, he's still accurate. On the other hand, he finished with a losing record, including getting completely blown out in four of his last five games.
Is he a top-20 quarterback? No way. Is he better than what has been on this list so far? I think so.
Congrats for being No. 34, Seth Doege!
No. 34: Keith Price (Washington)
2011 Statistics: 2,625 passing yards; 29 TDs, 11 INTs; 67.4 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 7-5
Aside from the Oregon State loss, Keith Price and the Washington Huskies played pretty well this season. And, guess what, he's ANOTHER sophomore.
And, again, he's a first-year starter. Washington played a pretty tough schedule this year, so finishing with a winning record, a bowl bid (against a good Baylor team) and tossing 29 touchdowns makes for a really good season for Price.
This is the part where I'd normally say things should improve next season for Price and the Huskies, however, Price's top-two wide receivers are both graduating. Here's to hoping they can find some replacements.
No. 33: James Vandenberg (Iowa)
2011 Statistics: 2,806 passing yards; 26 total TDs, 6 INTs; 59.4 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 7-5
Iowa had a disappointing year when compared to years of the past, but even for a really average Iowa team, they could be easily sitting at 10-2 right now.
Alas, their 7-5 finish could have been a lot worse, as well. However, junior quarterback James Vandenberg kept the Hawkeyes in every game this season.
As a result, the Hawkeyes got a bid to the Insight Bowl to take on the preseason No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners. While a win in the game does virtually nothing for the Sooners, a win for Iowa could mean a lot, and it could provide momentum going into next season.
No. 32: Ryan Lindley (San Diego State)
2011 Statistics: 2,740 passing yards; 20 TDs, 8 INTs; 52.5 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 8-4
Ryan Lindley is another senior on this list who actually produced better stats during his junior season. This year was actually pretty perplexing for Lindley.
He suffered his lowest completion percentage of his career, but also threw the fewest amount of interceptions he ever has. His stats suffering can likely be attributed to his young group of receivers.
Still, through all the ups and downs of Lindley's year, he was still able to lead his team to an 8-4 record, with three of those losses being against TCU, Boise State and Michigan.
Lindley will get one more shot at proving himself this year in the New Orleans Bowl against Louisiana-Lafayette. After that, it's off to the combine and then to the NFL.
No. 31: Jacory Harris (The U)
2011 Statistics: 2,486 passing yards; 20 TDs, 9 INTs; 65.0 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 6-6
Miami's 6-6 record could have been 12-0 this season. I know that's a big hypothetical, but here are their losses:
Maryland by eight (without Harris), Kansas State by four, Virginia Tech by three, Virginia by seven, Florida State by four and Boston College by seven.
These were all winnable games. How crazy is it to think that Miami could be playing in a BCS bowl, or even a national championship?
Unfortunately, this hypothetical is just that, and Harris' senior season and college career comes to close with an unfortunate 6-6 record. He still had a pretty decent year despite all of his team's shortcomings.
No. 30: Terrance Owens/Austin Dantin (Toledo)
2011 Statistics, Owens: 1,812 passing yards; 209 rushing yards; 16 total TDs, 3 INTs; 71.4 completion percentage
2011 Statistics, Dantin: 1,398 passing yards; 193 rushing yards; 17 total TDs, 3 INTs; 64.9 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 8-4
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the nation's best quarterback tandem: Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin. Toledo is one of the few teams that can run a quarterback tandem and still be successful (besides LSU, of course).
If we combine their stats, we get a quarterback who has passed for 3,210 yards, rushed for 402 yards, scored a total of 33 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Those are top-15 numbers, but because I can't technically count them as one quarterback, I can't put them in front of guys who played really well all season being the only guy under center.
Regardless, Toledo had a great season, and both Owens and Dantin will be back next season with the hopes of controlling the MAC.
No. 29: Dan Persa (Northwestern)
2011 Statistics: 2,163 passing yards; 18 total TDs, 7 INTs; 74.2 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 6-6
I admit that this may be a little high for Persa, but I'm taking into consideration the three games he missed during the season.
Had Persa actually played in those games, his numbers would have been considerably better. I'm putting him ahead of the others due to his ridiculous completion percentage.
Persa is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in all of college football, and he's had a great last two seasons on a very average team.
Honestly, I'm not sure if Persa has a future in the NFL. His accuracy will undoubtedly transfer over to the next level, but he's a tad undersized.
No. 28: James Franklin (Missouri)
2011 Statistics: 2,733 passing yards; 839 rushing yards; 33 total TDs, 10 INTs; 63.2 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 7-5
Now here's a dual-threat quarterback who actually can pass. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin had a better than average year on a slightly more than average Missouri team.
To be fair, Missouri's only losses came to four good teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor) and one decent team (Arizona State), and Franklin played pretty well against everyone except OSU.
Franklin displayed his dual-threat ability early in the season against Oklahoma by passing for 291 yards and running for another 100 yards. In the Baylor game, Franklin passed for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, proving he can be an elite passer.
Is Franklin a younger version of Robert Griffin III? I guess we'll find out in the next two years.
No. 27: Derek Carr (Fresno State)
2011 Statistics: 3,544 passing yards; 29 total TDs, 9 INTs; 62.6 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 4-9
How did I not know David Carr's little brother was playing for Fresno State? Anyway, Derek seems to be following in David's footsteps quite nicely.
Statistically, Carr had a fantastic year, but his Bulldogs finished with an unacceptable record. A lot of that blame can be put on their abysmal defense, but the bright side is that Carr and and his favorite weapon, Jalen Saunders, will be on the team for two more years.
Junior running back Robbie Rouse will be returning next season as well. Rouse rushed for over 1,500 yards this season and 13 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs should have a great offense next season, so hopefully their defense will get better. Carr will be in line to be one of the best quarterbacks in college football.
No. 26: EJ Manuel (Florida State)
2011 Statistics: 2,417 passing yards; 20 total TDs, 8 INTs; 65.4 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 8-4
EJ Manuel had a lot of hype surrounding him going into this season, and he certainly lived up to it during the first two games.
However, Manuel's Week 3 performance against OU highlighted his room for growth. Manuel finished the season with a decent stat line, but he failed to get his team over the hump in any of the Seminoles' big games.
An 8-4 record for a team that was picked to win the ACC is certainly disappointing, but Manuel should return for his senior season with more weapons around him who are ready to compete.
The quest for next year's ACC championship should be another fun race between Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech.
No. 25: Alex Carder (Western Michigan)
2011 Statistics: 3,434 passing yards; 253 rushing yards; 32 total TDs, 10 INTs; 67.2 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 7-5
Junior quarterback Alex Carder had almost a carbon copy of his sophomore season this year, but that doesn't mean that it was bad.
In fact, Carder had a fantastic breakout sophomore season, so I'm sure Broncos fans were happy to see that happen again.
Of course, the team's 7-5 record could have been better, but Western Michigan played a genuinely tough schedule for the talent they have on their team—Carder is the exception. He single-handedly led the team to a bowl bid this season.
Unfortunately, Carder is losing his favorite wide receiver, Jordan White, to the NFL draft. White's ridiculous numbers—127 receptions, 1,646 yards, 16 touchdowns—will have to be replaced next season, or Carder could be trending down on this list.
No. 24: Denard Robinson (Michigan)
2011 Statistics: 2,056 passing yards; 1,163 rushing yards; 34 total TDs, 14 INTs; 56.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-2
No. 24 on this list may be a little too high for a guy who can't throw the ball all too well, but hate as much as you want, Robinson gets the job done.
He is one of the most exciting players to watch in college football, and his dual-threat ability make him a tough quarterback to defend. Robinson only threw 18 touchdowns to 14 interceptions this season. He also had a really low completion percentage.
However, when you tack on his 16 rushing touchdowns, the fact that he still managed to throw for over 2,000 yards and lead his team to a BCS bowl, Robinson's season looks pretty great.
AND he's coming back next year. If he can work on his accuracy in the offseason, look out.
No. 23: G.J. Kinne (Tulsa)
2011 Statistics: 2,876 passing yards; 405 rushing yards; 28 total TDs, 12 INTs; 64.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 8-4
I commend Tulsa for their ridiculously tough non-conference schedule. If they were able to win even one of those games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Boise State, then they would have looked that much better to the BCS.
Their tough early matchups got them ready for their own conference, though, as G.J. Kinne led the Golden Hurricane to seven straight victories before getting upended by a superior Houston squad.
Kinne, a senior, has had a splendid career at the University of Tulsa. His numbers dipped slightly this season, but I don't think Kinne was playing at 100 percent the entire season.
Kinne will likely get drafted, but where he will fall is another question.
No. 22: Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State)
2011 Statistics: 3,235 passing yards; 605 rushing yards; 27 total TDs, 13 INTs; 65.6 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-2 (Sun Belt Champs)
Arkansas State had a great season, routing opponents left and right en route to a Sun Belt championship. The only two losses for the Red Wolves came out of conference against Illinois and Virginia Tech.
Their success can be put solely on the back of junior quarterback Ryan Aplin. Like James Franklin, Aplin is a dual-threat quarterback who can actually pass rather well.
Aplin makes my top 25 despite playing in a lousy conference, because he is his team's leading rusher, as well. Aplin has literally carried his team this season.
His play has earned his team a bowl berth against MAC champion Northern Illinois. That should be a great game to watch.
No. 21: Tyler Tettleton (Ohio)
2011 Statistics: 3,086 passing yards; 627 rushing yards; 35 total TDs, 10 INTs; 63.6 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 9-4
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton was almost the best quarterback in the MAC this season (the best will be showing up in about three slides). It has to hurt to hear that, as his team was almost the best in the MAC this year, as well.
Unfortunately for Tettleton and the Bobcats, they fell just short. Still, for a first-year starter, Tettleton looked like a seasoned veteran. It's scary to think he still has two more years to grow and improve.
With Northern Illinois' quarterback (the best in the conference) graduating this year, Ohio may be in line to take over the MAC conference for the next two years.
Tettleton's play awarded the Bobcats with a bid to the Idaho Potato Bowl against WAC opponent Utah State. Utah State is on a five-game winning streak and hasn't lost a game this season by more than four points, and that includes a loss to a ranked Auburn team.
Should be a fun game to watch.
No. 20: Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M)
2011 Statistics: 3,415 passing yards; 296 rushing yards; 32 total TDs, 14 INTs; 61.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 6-6
I'm sure senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill wishes this season would have gone a lot better. Texas A&M was loaded with talent and experience, but it just seemed like they couldn't ever keep a lead.
Their 6-6 record doesn't do the team justice for how good they are/can be, and all that starts with Tannehill. Recently, Tannehill's draft stock has been rising like crazy. Who wouldn't want a 6'4", 220-pound, extremely athletic quarterback?
Did I mention that Tannehill has only been a quarterback for a season and a half? After making the move to quarterback from wide receiver, it's amazing that he's had any success, much less the success he has had.
He still needs to work on accuracy issues, but those will come in time. As for now, he may look like a work in progress, but he's going to be a great pickup for somebody in the second or third round.
No. 19: Austin Davis (Southern Miss)
2011 Statistics: 3,331 passing yards; 332 rushing yards; 32 total TDs, 11 INTs; 61.8 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-2 (C-USA Champs)
Southern Miss senior quarterback Austin Davis edges out his foe from Tulsa on this list, but he's still no Case Keenum.
Regardless, Davis led the Golden Eagles all season long, culminating in a No. 21 BCS ranking and a Conference USA championship. Davis hurled four touchdown passes against an undefeated Houston squad in the championship game, shocking the Cougars and the rest of the nation.
Southern Miss will be on their way to Hawaii to take on Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, and a victory there would be the perfect way to end Davis' career as a Golden Eagle.
No. 18: Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois)
2011 Statistics: 2,942 passing yards; 1,382 rushing yards; 37 total TDs, 5 INTs; 62.9 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-3 (MAC Champs)
I really wanted to rank Chandler Harnish higher on this list, but with the amount of really good quarterbacks who play at good programs in "big" conferences, I just couldn't seem to do it.
Harnish, a senior, put on a really nice display this season. There hasn't been much hype surrounding him, but if he can perform well at the combine, Harnish may be a late-round steal for a team.
Statistically, Harnish was the second best dual-threat quarterback in the nation this year, only trailing Robert Griffin III. His 37 total touchdowns to only five interceptions is remarkable, and he even led his team to a MAC championship.
I'm actually pretty excited to watch Harnish go head-to-head against Arkansas State's Ryan Aplin (No. 22 on this list) in the Godaddy.com Bowl. Two really great quarterbacks from small schools dueling it out? Yes, please.
No. 17: Aaron Murray (Georgia)
2011 Statistics: 2,861 passing yards; 35 total TDs, 12 INTs; 58.8 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-3
Sophomore Aaron Murray had a very comparable year to his freshman season, but his touchdowns went up by nine and Georgia finished with a much nicer record (6-7 in 2010).
After losing the first two games of the season, Georgia really picked it up, winning their next 10. Behind Murray's arm, the Bulldogs made it to the SEC championship game, only to get blown out by LSU.
Still, it was a great season for a young Georgia team that will be ready to avenge their championship loss next season. Murray threw 33 touchdowns this season, which is quite an accomplishment when you're playing in the SEC.
If Murray can work on his accuracy a bit, he's going to be a lot to handle.
No. 16: Casey Pachall (TCU)
2011 Statistics: 2,715 passing yards; 26 total TDs, 6 INTs; 67.8 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-2 (MWC Champs)
I rated sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall so high on this list because, even though he plays in a weak conference, I found it amazing how he was able to fill in for Andy Dalton.
Pachall had great numbers, beat Boise State on the road and led his team to a third consecutive MWC championship. The only two losses for TCU weren't terrible, either.
TCU lost to Baylor in their season opener by two, and Baylor had to make a comeback effort to win that game. They also lost to a decent SMU team, but that was in overtime. TCU had a great chance to run the table this season, which is remarkable for a team that was in rebuilding mode.
I'm eager to see how TCU and Pachall measure up with the rest of the Big 12 next season but, for now, Pachall earns his spot as No. 16 on this list.
No. 15: Nick Foles (Arizona)
2011 Statistics: 4,334 passing yards; 28 TDs, 14 INTs; 69.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 4-8
This is the one slide I feel like I need an explanation for. Arizona finished the season with a really lousy 4-8 record in a top-heavy Pac-12 conference, but senior quarterback Nick Foles is the real deal.
He was unfortunately paired with average teammates, but I believe if Foles would have been on a team with better weapons and a better defense, he would be getting talked about a lot more right now.
His 4,334 passing yards have to be taken with a grain of salt because he did throw the ball over 500 times this season, but he had to in order to give his team any chance of winning.
His 6'5" frame and monster arm make him a great quarterback prospect for the NFL. He's currently projected as a third- or fourth-round pick, but I think that might be a steal.
No. 14: Collin Klein (Kansas State)
2011 Statistics: 1,745 passing yards; 1,099 rushing yards; 38 total TDs, 5 INTs; 57.8 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-2
Ranking Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein for this list was one of the hardest things I had to do. He's a pretty perplexing quarterback.
While he doesn't have a great arm (only 12 touchdown passes), he wreaks havoc on the ground. While he only threw for over 200 yards twice this year, he rushed for over 100 yards five times. You get the point.
He's really not your typical dual-threat quarterback, either. The guy is 6'5" and 225 pounds—he's a monster.
The reason I have him rated so high is because of his ridiculous 26 rushing touchdowns, his lack of interceptions and his leadership. Really, who expected Kansas State to go 10-2 and get shunned out of a BCS bowl?
Not me, not you and probably not even Klein. With Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill all likely leaving for the draft, Klein and Missouri QB James Franklin may be competing for best quarterback rights in the Big 12 next season.
No. 13: Kirk Cousins (Michigan State)
2011 Statistics: 3,016 passing yards; 24 TDs, 7 INTs; 65.0 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-3
Michigan State was my preseason dark horse to win the Big 10, and even though they came up just short, they can at least commend themselves on a great season.
Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins topped off his career as a Spartan with his best season yet. His 24 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions made him the second best quarterback in the conference (the best will be popping up shortly on here).
With losses to Notre Dame, Nebraska and Wisconsin (in the Big 10 championship game), Michigan State compiled one of the more impressive three-loss seasons in recent years.
Even though Cousins came up just short of a Rose Bowl bid, the Spartans still got a bid to the Outback Bowl to play No. 16 Georgia. This should be one of the more exciting non-BCS bowls.
No. 12: Geno Smith (West Virginia)
2011 Statistics: 3,978 passing yards; 26 total TDs, 7 INTs; 65.0 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 9-3 (Big East Champs)
In a rather weak Big East, West Virginia was the obvious front-runner all season. However, even though they out-talented their competition, they seemed to play underwhelming football most of the season.
That can all be put behind them now, though, as the Mountaineers earned a bid to the Orange Bowl to take on ACC champs Clemson.
Clemson will be the best team West Virginia has faced since their early-season loss to LSU, so the Mountaineers will have to come prepared in order to take care of business. That all starts with junior quarterback Geno Smith, who has had a tremendous year under center.
The Mountaineers really relied on Smith to bail them out of close games this year, and his almost-4,000-yard season needs to be complimented by someone.
That someone is me. Right now. You're welcome.
No. 11: Landry Jones (Oklahoma)
2011 Statistics: 4,302 passing yards; 30 total TDs, 14 INTs; 63.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 9-3
Landry Jones at No. 11? Is this really happening? Are there really 10 quarterbacks who played better than a potential Heisman candidate and top tier draft pick?
Absolutely. There's no denying that Jones put up good stats, and the Sooners' three losses can't all be put on Jones. However, Jones didn't really seem to progress much from a year before—all the same problems were still there, and some of them wore even worse.
Jones' numbers dipped in the following areas: passing yards, completions, completion percentage and touchdowns and quarterback rating.
Actually, the only stat that Jones did see increase was interceptions.
Oh wait, that's not good? Ladies and gentlemen, this is a potential top 10 draft pick!
No. 10: Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
2011 Statistics: 3,578 passing yards; 36 total TDs, 10 INTs; 60.5 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-3 (ACC Champs)
In his first season as the full-time starter, sophomore Tajh Boyd certainly didn't disappoint. Playing in a conference that was supposed to be Florida State, Virginia Tech and everybody else, Boyd led his Tigers to a conference championship.
If he continues to develop (and I'm sure he will), Boyd has the chance to be a Heisman front-runner next season, especially if Robert Griffin III, Matt Barkley and Landry Jones all leave.
Boyd and running back Andre Ellington have a chance to be the best 1-2 punch in all of college football next season.
No. 9: Tyler Wilson (Arkansas)
2011 Statistics: 3,422 passing yards; 26 total TDs, 6 INTs; 63.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-2
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson wins the award for being the best quarterback in the SEC. Of course, statements like that seem like oxymorons.
However, in this case, Wilson is actually really good. In his first season as a starter, Wilson managed to lead the Razorbacks to a solid 10-2 record, just missing out on a BCS bowl. What were their two losses? No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama.
Not a bad season by any means. Now the question remains, will Wilson return to school or decide to go pro? His best bet may be returning for his senior season, as he will likely be one of the top two or three quarterbacks drafted NEXT season—this season may be a bit more difficult.
No. 8: Darron Thomas (Oregon)
2011 Statistics: 2,493 passing yards; 205 rushing yards; 33 total TDs, 6 INTs; 61.4 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-2 (Pac-12 Champs)
Darron Thomas led one of the most high-powered offenses in all of college football this season. To cap off a great year, the Ducks won the Pac-12 Championship and are heading to the Rose Bowl.
The Ducks were on the brink of a one-loss season with a possible rematch against LSU in the national championship when they were shocked at home by USC.
Still, two losses against two good teams and a conference championship makes for a pretty swell year. Thomas and running back LaMichael James are both only juniors. If both choose to return to school, Oregon is going to be back at the top next season.
No. 7: Russell Wilson (Wisconsin)
2011 Statistics: 2,879 passing yards; 320 rushing yards; 36 total TDs, 3 INTs; 72.5 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-2 (Big Ten Champs)
Facing off against Darron Thomas in the Rose Bowl is Russell Wilson and his Wisconsin Badgers. Despite losing back-to-back road games to Michigan State and Ohio State, the Badgers were able to land on their feet and exact their revenge.
Wilson had a sensational year. After transferring in from North Carolina State, Wilson's passing attempts dropped from 527 to 284. However, he saw his completion percentage rise from 58.4 to 72.5. He finished with the second highest quarterback rating in the nation, only trailing Robert Griffin III.
I would have ranked Wilson higher than No. 7, but the remaining six guys didn't have a Heisman candidate in their backfield. Wilson had a great season, there's no denying that, but he wasn't the only catalyst that made the offense spark.
No. 6: Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State)
2011 Statistics: 4,238 passing yards; 34 TDs, 12 INTs; 72.6 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-1 (Big 12 Champions)
In a conference littered with great quarterback talent, Weeden proved that he was among the best this season. The Cowboys offense finished at the top in nearly every statistical category, and that was due in large part to Weeden's poise and consistency.
Even though Weeden did toss 12 INTs this season, his 72.6 completion percentage hints towards Weeden's accuracy. If it hadn't been for the shocking Iowa State loss, Weeden and the Cowboys would be playing LSU for the national championship.
Weeden comes in at No. 6 on this list, even though he definitely had a top-five season. What has to be taken into consideration is the fact that he played in a pass-first, spread offense with the best receiver in the nation.
Many believe that Weeden's age will keep him out of the first few rounds of the NFL draft, and that's probably true. However, Weeden has proven this season that he is NFL ready, and he is going to be a tremendous asset for any team willing to take a chance.
No. 5: Kellen Moore (Boise State)
2011 Statistics: 3,507 passing yards; 41 TDs, 7 INTs; 74.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-1
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore has had a sensational career at Boise State, and it was unfortunate that he, like Barkley, did not get an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation this year.
However, Moore is always at a disadvantage. When your team plays in a weak conference, you normally aren't going to get much recognition (see: Keenum, Case). Boise State had two tough games this season: at Georgia and vs. TCU—they went 1-1.
That's just not going to cut it. However, Moore can't be blamed for the TCU loss. He threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He led his team to scoring 35 points. That should be more than enough for a victory.
Alas, Boise State just missed it...again. Now Moore is off to the NFL, where hopefully somebody will take a stab at a guy with a lot of experience and a super-accurate arm.
No. 4: Matt Barkley (USC)
2011 Statistics: 3,528 passing yards; 41 total TDs, 7 INTs; 69.1 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 10-2
USC quarterback Matt Barkley may have shown the biggest year-to-year improvement of any college quarterback.
Unlike Landry Jones, Barkley improved in every positive statistical category instead of worsening. He threw for nearly 800 more yards this season while tossing 13 more touchdowns. If it weren't for USC's sanctions, Barkley would have led his Trojans to a Pac-12 championship game.
After a splendid season, not being invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation had to be a letdown for Barkley, so will he return next season with the hopes of a Heisman?
My guess is no. Barkley is a top-10 prospect, and even though staying could almost solidify him being a No. 1 pick next season, I don't know if he'll want to risk it.
No. 3: Case Keenum (Houston)
2011 Statistics: 5,099 passing yards; 48 total TDs, 5 INTs; 71.7 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 12-1
If I was basing this list just on statistics, then Houston quarterback Case Keenum would be the hands-down winner (5,099 passing yards? Are you serious?).
Unfortunately, like Kellen Moore, Keenum plays in a weak conference and will forever be judged because of the competition he has faced. I have no doubt that Keenum could be a great quarterback in one of the "big" conferences, but would 48 touchdowns still be doable?
I guess we'll never know, but Keenum has certainly made a statement for himself this season, and not getting an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation was a slap in the face. Hopefully he'll find a nice home in the NFL where he can display his talents for everyone to see.
No. 2: Andrew Luck (Stanford)
2011 Statistics: 3,170 passing yards; 37 total TDs, 9 INTs; 70.0 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 11-1
Andrew Luck was certainly the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. In fact, he was the front-runner for almost the entire season.
Luck very well may be the best quarterback prospect that has come along in quite awhile, but one thing is for sure: He wasn't the best COLLEGE quarterback this year.
Unlike a lot of the quarterbacks on this list, Luck actually played in a balanced, pro-style offense. This gave him less opportunities to throw the ball, thus less opportunities to showcase his abilities.
Needless to say, Luck will have the opportunity to wow everybody at the combine, but for now...
No. 1: Robert Griffin III (Baylor)
2011 Statistics: 3,998 passing yards; 644 rushing yards; 45 total TDs, 6 INTs; 72.4 completion percentage
Team W/L Record: 9-3
Just like in the race for the Heisman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III edges out Andrew Luck for this year's top college quarterback.
Griffin was a joy to watch this season, and Baylor wouldn't have been the same without him. Take Griffin off this team and Baylor might be sub-.500. Griffin has always been an exciting player to watch, but he really took a step forward this year and became the best in the game.
Now, I'm not saying that Griffin is going to be a better pro than Luck. Certainly, Luck is more of a prototypical NFL quarterback. However, I won't be shocked to see Griffin continue his high-level of play in the NFL.