The Best Quarterback You've Never Noticed: Sean Canfield

Matt KeithCorrespondent INovember 24, 2009

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Sean Canfield #5 of the Oregon State Beavers passes against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Ever heard of Sean Canfield?

If you are not a Pac-10 fan, the answer is probably, “No.”  And that is a real shame, because Canfield, quarterback for Oregon State, is one of the better passers in college football, let alone the Pac-10.

But you better get acquainted with him soon. If he leads his Beavers to an upset win over the Ducks on Dec. 3, you will next see him playing in the Rose Bowl.

Why Canfield receives so little notoriety is beyond me. Sure, the fact that he never has a national TV audience plays a role, but why do you never hear any buzz about him in columns or on the radio? He deserves more attention for a variety of reasons.

For starters, Oregon State has posted an 8-3 record this year with Canfield at the helm. While Oregon, Cal, USC, Stanford, and Arizona have all taken turns sharing the spotlight in conference, Oregon State has quietly plodded along, moving into sole possession of second place behind the Ducks.

Ranked 16th in the AP poll, Oregon State is only now garnering attention as they stand as the last stumbling block in the way of Oregon’s pursuit of a Pac-10 title.

If the record isn’t enough to convince you of Canfield’s value at quarterback, just take a look at his stats. His completion percentage is 70.3. Better than Tim Tebow, Case Keenum, Jimmy Clausen, or Kellen Moore. He has thrown 19 touchdowns to only six interceptions. Better than Colt McCoy.

He does all this in a balanced offense, as well. Oregon State runs the football 49.6 percent of the time.

Why wouldn’t they, with Jacquizz Rodgers to hand the ball to? Particularly in goal-line situations, the Beavers want to let Rodgers slash his way into the end zone, driving down Canfield’s touchdown numbers.

That being said, Canfield does pass the ball quite a bit. Nearly as much as other top passers, so his great completion percentage and solid touchdown-to-interception ratio are not merely products of a system.

But what is perhaps most impressive about Canfield is the fact that all of his accomplishments have come in the deepest conference in college football.

Relax, SEC fans. I didn’t say the best; I said the deepest. The Pac-10 may not have a marquee team like Florida, Alabama, or Texas, but outside of Washington State there are no pushovers in the conference. Almost every team is really good, even if no teams are great.

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Only the SEC can compete with the Pac-10 this year in terms of depth. Sorry, Big XII fans. 2008 was a nice year, but now more than half your conference is an absolute joke.

So for Canfield to have accomplished so much in the face of tough opposition is quite impressive.

Yet even within his own conference he gets little of the respect he deserves. Most people would probably identify Jake Locker or Jeremiah Masoli as the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10. Even freshmen Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley get more attention than the senior Canfield.

Canfield is an afterthought. Unknown by many, he has quietly given his team a shot at the Rose Bowl. Never spectacular, he has nonetheless been extremely consistent and reliable.

Does Canfield belong in the discussion of best quarterbacks in the country? No. He is not in the same category as Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy when it comes to leadership or winning ways. He doesn’t have the pure passing ability of a Jimmy Clausen.

But he combines those two traits, albeit on a lesser level. And for that he deserves the name recognition afforded to players such as Kellen Moore, Daryll Clark, and Terrelle Pryor.

And whether or not his skill set will transfer to the NFL is irrelevant. That question applies to most of the quarterbacks I named. Besides, we are evaluating best college quarterbacks, not best NFL prospects.

Sure, a select handful of quarterbacks are better. So put Tebow, McCoy, and maybe one or two others in the first-tier of college quarterbacks. Canfield is one of the foremost quarterbacks in the second tier.

But you don’t know who he is.

He will try to change that on Dec. 3. Try to help his team emerge as the best in the Pac-10. Try to prove that he is the best quarterback you have never noticed.


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