College Football QB Power Rankings: Ranking all 130 starting quarterbacks for 2021

PFN’s inaugural College Football QB Power Rankings analyzes every team’s starting quarterback situation. Who is the best for the 2021 season?

The college football season has already completed five weeks of its 2021 campaign. As such, we’re making our semi-annual College Football Quarterback Power Rankings and dissecting the starting QB situations at the FBS level. From No. 1 all the way to No. 130, each team’s quarterback depth chart has been analyzed and ranked as we approach the 2021 season’s halfway point.

College Football QB Power Rankings criteria

After Week 5 closed, we dove headfirst into the data and film on all 130 starting quarterbacks at the FBS level. As a result, we developed a high-quality ranking system for each program’s situation. Statistics will be mentioned, but they were not the only deciding factor in ranking a player. This list prefers programs with one quarterback having done significant work against top-notch competition and dings schools for not figuring out a two-quarterback system by now.

A quarterback’s game film factored into these rankings, as did injuries during games, play-calling, level of competition, and general QB mechanics.

It’s important to note that this list is not a projection towards a player’s NFL capabilities. Rather, it is a list of how each player has fared in college this season based on the skills they’ve shown.

*Editor’s note — if you’d like to jump around the rankings: 100-115, 85-99, 70-84, 56-69, 41-55, 21-40, 1-20

College Football QB Power Rankings for 2021 | 116-130

PFN’s FBS starting quarterback rankings, from 130 all the way down to No. 1.

130) Justin Tomlin | Georgia Southern

Preseason ranking: 125th (-5)

The Eagles are in shambles through the first quarter of 2021. Former head coach Chad Lunsford was let go from the program following a 1-3 start. They started a running back — Tulane transfer Amare Jones — at quarterback in one game. Their players are drinking beers on bus roofs en route to their games.

The quarterback situation isn’t quite as bad as that, but it’s not much better. Justin Tomlin has gotten the last two starts prior to Week 5 action, completing just 43.8% of his throws. He’s fumbled multiple times in each start, while a single long carry is responsible for the majority of his rushing yards.

Things may get worse before they get better for Georgia Southern.

129) Will Plummer, Gunner Cruz, Jordan McCloud | Arizona

Preseason ranking: 120th (-9)

The Wildcats haven’t scored 20 points in a single game this season, and their quarterback play is largely to blame. As a unit, they’ve thrown for a combined 6 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

Cruz started the season’s first two games but gave way to Plummer in Week 3. Plummer was replaced by McCloud in Week 4 against Oregon and fared the worst of the three so far this season. The answer at QB is apparently not there for head coach Jedd Fisch.

128) Timmy McClain, Cade Fortin | USF

Preseason ranking: 115th (-13)

The Bulls haven’t been able to find an answer at the quarterback position since head coach Jeff Scott took over in 2020. Fortin was benched after two poor outings while McClain has at least led them to a win over Florida A&M.

McClain has done enough to make second halves of games competitive, but his first-half struggles have been enough to do them in. He’s completed 54-of-92 for 781 yards and just 1 touchdown in three starts.

127) Steven Krajewski, Tyler Phommachanh | Connecticut

Preseason ranking: 129th (+2)

Honestly, if Phommachanh hadn’t hurt himself during the Vanderbilt game, UConn’s situation would be much clearer. Instead, the changes to the Huskies’ offensive game plan have been stymied after Krajewski replaced him.

Phommachanh gave UConn a chance with his athleticism as he continued to improve as a passer. The offense changes with Krajewski in at quarterback. As gutsy as his performance against Vanderbilt was, he’s limited as a passer himself. It’s a long road ahead for UConn, but at least Phommachanh showed promise in his time on the field in 2021.

126) Xavier Arline, Tai Lavatai | Navy

Preseason ranking: 121st (-5)

The Midshipmen are fresh off a victory over UCF, but it was hardly due to quarterback play. Lavatai got the start against UCF, rushing for 2 touchdowns but fumbling twice as well. In his two starts, Arline himself put the ball on the ground 3 times.

As a duo, they’re averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and have more fumbles than touchdowns. When they’ve had to take to the air, they’ve completed fewer than 35% of their throws, with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception combined.

125) Brady Olson | UMass

Preseason ranking: 130th (+5)

It’s not been pretty for Minutemen quarterbacks this season. They land near the bottom of our FBS QB Rankings after starting the year 0-4. They’ve got no real answer at quarterback a third of the way through the 2021 campaign.

Olson has played better than his counterparts Tyler Lytle and Garrett Dzuro. He’s completed 59-of-112 for 686 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. UMass needs a quarterback who can elevate their team, but they seemingly don’t have that on their roster right now.

124) Rhett Rodriguez, Chandler Rogers | UL-Monroe

Preseason ranking: 123rd (-1)

The Warhawks’ quarterbacks have quite literally been thrown to the wolves in 2021. With no protection in front of them, they’ve had to fend for themselves for most of this season. Rodriguez was so beat up after the Temple game that he was admitted to the ICU.

Fortunately for him, he’s improving. Unfortunately for ULM, the team will continue to see struggles at the position regardless of who the quarterback is. Rogers went 9-of-17 for 100 yards with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception in his first start without Rodriguez.

123) Cameron Friel, Doug Brumfield | UNLV

Preseason ranking: 114th (-9)

At first, it was Justin Rogers who opened the season as the Rebels’ quarterback. Then Brumfield gave it a go for two games. And now it’s Friel’s job.

Together, along with a smattering of Tate Martell, UNLV has completed just 55.1% of their attempts for 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, with most of the touchdowns coming with games out of reach.

122) Jonah Johnson | New Mexico State

Preseason ranking: 126th (+4)

Starting four of New Mexico State’s first five games, Johnson is winless so far in 2021. In fact, the Aggies actually won their FCS game with Dino Maldonado at the helm against South Carolina State.

Entering their last outing against San Jose State, Johnson had a lowly 2-touchdown to 4-interception ratio. But after throwing for 3 scores and 300 yards against the Spartans, perhaps things are looking up.

121) Hunter Johnson, Ryan Hilinski | Northwestern

Preseason ranking: 101st (-20)

Sometimes the mighty fall. That’s the case for Hunter Johnson, as he has never been able to live up to the recruiting hype that followed him to Clemson. The Wildcats are 2-3 but have been wildly outplayed this season.

Johnson has completed 60% of his throws but is averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt. He has 4 touchdowns to 4 interceptions, which is more than Hilinski can say. There is no answer here except starting fresh and getting a new quarterback for Pat Fitzgerald and Co.

120) Zeb Noland, Luke Doty | South Carolina

Preseason ranking: 127th (+7)

In fairness, Noland didn’t think he would ever play football again three weeks prior to the start of the season. He performed admirably — albeit timidly — in his first action. Noland threw 4 touchdowns against Eastern Illinois and had a 61-yard completion against Georgia before Doty returned.

In three games of major action this season (Georgia, Kentucky, and Troy), Doty has completed 58.8% of his throws with hardly any pass traveling further than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. Still, he’s moved up seven spots from where he started in our Quarterback Power Rankings.

119) Ty Keyes, Jake Lange | Southern Miss

Preseason ranking: N/A

Keyes didn’t get the start to the season, and he might not get to finish it either. The Golden Eagles are more than a quarterback away from being competitive in their conference, but Keyes did offer some flashes with his legs.

Lange replaced Keyes in Southern Miss’ most recent game against Rice. He completed 23-of-37 attempts for 304 yards and a touchdown but threw 3 interceptions in a come-from-behind attempt. Trey Lowe III — who hasn’t played since Week 2 — was in our original QB Power Rankings at 97th overall.

118) Todd Centeio | Colorado State

Preseason ranking: 98th (-19)

Todd Centeio hasn’t been bad to start the season for Colorado State. The offense, however, hasn’t been good. Centeio has too many weapons in the Rams’ offense to average just 5.9 yards per attempt and field a 55.5% completion percentage.

Centeio and the Rams haven’t scored more than 22 points in a game since they put up 23 against South Dakota State — their lone FCS opposition — earlier this year. Most MWC defenses are a bit stronger than the Jackrabbits’, so the road may get a bit bumpier from here.

117) D’Wan Mathis | Temple

Preseason ranking: 124th (+7)

D’Wan Mathis has been solid over his last two outings, including a much-needed victory over Memphis. But before he rises any higher, Mathis will have to iron out some accuracy issues that prompted his ranking to drop in the first place.

It’s also imperative to note that he missed two games already — Justin Lynch, his replacement, didn’t fare too much better. Temple is a tough team to read in 2021, but the quarterback situation can become much clearer if Mathis plays as he did against Memphis all season.

116) Ken Seals | Vanderbilt

Preseason ranking: 86th (-20)

Seals has started all his team’s games and begun the season 1-3. He’s averaging a paltry 5.5 yards per pass attempt in the first year of Vandy’s rebuild. He threw 2 interceptions in their loss to FCS East Tennessee State to start the year. Seals then averaged 0.9 yards per attempt against Georgia in Week 4.

He hasn’t tested his arm much downfield, and things might not get much better offensively with star RB Re’Mahn Davis out for the season. After gutting out a victory over UConn in Week 5, Vanderbilt may not win another game this season.

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