10 Under-the-Radar College Football Quarterbacks to Watch in 2016
Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield are household names, but the 2016 campaign is spotted with lesser-known college football quarterbacks worth watching.
Some may be underrated when it comes to NFL draft prospects, while others are flat-out fun to track in the fall.
In most cases, the team isn't a national or even conference championship contender. However, a select group of signal-callers will be under center for a program prepared for a breakout year.
Although the list—organized alphabetically—is subjective, an under-the-radar quarterback is different for almost every fan, largely depending on allegiances and location.
The following players are among the most entertaining talents the average fan doesn't know much—if anything—about. And that's OK! We're here to help.
Matt Davis, SMU
The conductor of SMU's "Pony Up Tempo," quarterback Matt Davis is the key to the program building on an improved squad.
In 2014, the Mustangs trotted to a single victory. The school hired Chad Morris, who instituted the fast-paced attack with Davis at the helm. While SMU only won two games, the offense jumped from 11.1 to 27.8 points per outing.
Davis threw for 2,263 yards, 16 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, and he added 761 rushing yards and 10 more scores.
Headlined by Courtland Sutton, nearly all of SMU's receiving options return in 2016. Davis will be worth the viewing.
Eric Dungey, Syracuse
The big question with Eric Dungey is health. He was far too aggressive last season and took numerous massive hits, one of which ended Dungey's campaign with three games remaining.
But before spring practice, the dual-threat quarterback said he's "100 percent healthy," according to Nate Mink of Syracuse.com.
Dungey will lead the uptempo spread offense Dino Babers brought to Syracuse from Bowling Green. Fortunately, since the philosophy relies on efficient passing, Dungey won't subject himself to as many hits.
But he'll always present that threat. Dungey scampered for 351 yards and five touchdowns in eight appearances last year, tallying 1,298 yards and 11 scores through the air.
Dane Evans, Tulsa
Few quarterbacks will post better numbers than Dane Evans in 2016. Not many did last season, either.
When Tulsa hired head coach Philip Montgomery, he implemented the same system Babers is introducing to Syracuse. Evans watched his efficiency skyrocket under Montgomery.
After throwing 27 touchdowns and 27 interceptions through two seasons, Evans completed a career-best 62.9 percent of his passes for 25 scores and just eight picks. He amassed 4,332 yards.
Keevan Lucas, Josh Atkinson and Justin Hobbs will highlight the Golden Hurricane receiving corps, which should be among the most productive in the nation.
Quinton Flowers, South Florida
A bit undersized at 6'0" and 210 pounds, Quinton Flowers atones for his small stature with an elusive style.
Last season, the quarterback shredded defenses for 991 rushing yards, including a 201-yard outburst against SMU. Flowers scored 12 times on the ground.
But he was an efficient passer, too. Flowers registered a 58.9 completion percentage and 2,290 yards. He tossed a school-record 22 touchdowns and had only eight interceptions.
Flowers is a primary reason the Bulls are a favorite in the AAC East.
Tyler Jones, Texas State
Tyler Jones' inconsistent season was a notable part of Texas State's drop from seven wins in 2014 to three last season.
But when he's producing, Jones is dangerous.
Two years ago, he accumulated 3,209 yards of total offense with 22 passing scores, six rushing touchdowns and seven interceptions. In 2015, Jones' completion percentage dropped seven points, and he managed 3,100 total yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 10 rushing scores and 10 picks.
Jones has the tools of a draftable quarterback, but he'll need to earn the starting job for one final NFL audition. For his sake, hopefully it's better than most of the 2015 show.
Chase Litton, Marshall
Replacing a program legend is not easily done. Rakeem Cato's departure created a massive void, but Chase Litton admirably filled it as a freshman.
After sitting for two games, Litton stepped into the starting lineup and introduced himself with a four-touchdown day. The victory started a seven-game winning streak for Marshall, which only lost to Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky with Litton at the helm.
Litton notched 2,605 yards, 23 touchdowns and only eight picks in 11 appearances, capped by a triumph over Connecticut in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
The Thundering Herd host Louisville and head to Pittsburgh this season, so Litton has a couple of chances to impress on a national level while leading a perennial Conference USA contender.
Nick Mullens, Southern Miss
Behind the arm of Nick Mullens, Southern Miss was a single point away from averaging 40 per game last season.
Mullens threw for 4,476 yards—the sixth-highest mark in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the best of any quarterback on this list—and 38 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions in 521 attempts.
Granted, he probably won't be close to matching those numbers. Top targets Mike Thomas and Casey Martin departed, and most of the staff accepted new jobs after head coach Todd Monken bolted to serve as the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The West Division in Conference USA is weak overall, however, so Mullens and Southern Miss will contend for the league championship.
Brett Rypien, Boise State
Boise State has produced a couple of nationally recognizable quarterbacks in Jared Zabransky and Kellen Moore. Brett Rypien is on track to join that group.
The 6'2", 195-pounder earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season. Despite sitting for two games and sharing reps with Ryan Finley for another, Rypien recorded 3,350 yards and 20 scores.
Finley has since decided to transfer to North Carolina State, so Rypien is the unquestioned starter—not that there was much concern, but head coach Bryan Harsin wanted a competition.
Rypien will help Boise State continue its 17-year streak of at least eight victories and likely notch the school's 14th 10-win season since 1999.
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee had a couple of weapons at receiver in 2015, but the offense needed a reliable triggerman. Head coach Rick Stockstill turned to his son, Brent, and the freshman shined.
The left-hander compiled a 66.7 completion percentage and amassed 4,005 yards with 30 touchdowns. He tossed just nine interceptions. Richie James and Ed'Marques Batties combined for 190 receptions, 2,394 yards and 21 scores.
Batties graduated, but James returns along with Terry Pettis (29/612/4) and Demetrius Frazier (28/191/1). The Blue Raiders will have plenty of options in 2016.
Middle Tennessee travels to Vanderbilt, Bowling Green, Missouri and Marshall next season, so Stockstill is the difference between a mediocre campaign or a breakout 10-win year.
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
A three-year starter at Western Michigan, Zach Terrell enters the 2016 campaign ranked 195th in FBS history with 8,567 career passing yards. He's an important part of the program's resurgence.
The Broncos mustered a single victory during head coach P.J. Fleck's first season when Terrell was a freshman, but they've now registered consecutive eight-win years.
In 2015, Terrell posted career-high marks with 3,526 yards and 29 touchdowns. Although he can no longer throw to 108-catch target Daniel Braverman, Corey Davis is one of the best non-power-conference receivers.
Western hasn't appeared in a MAC Championship Game since 2000, but Terrell is an important reason the streak may end this year.