The doldrums of summer have allowed me to dive headfirst into the data and film on all 131 starting quarterbacks at the FBS level and compile this list of the top college football quarterback rankings for 2022.
Top college quarterback rankings criteria
As noted in last year’s rankings, I was able to create a high-quality ranking system for each college program’s situation. Yes, some statistics will be cited. But those were not the only deciding factors in these rankings.
The film-watching portion of these rankings dictated a heavy portion of the weight on where a player landed. Also incorporated in these rankings were injury history, head coach or offensive coordinator changes, roster turnover, and general quarterback mechanics all over the field.
It’s important to note that this list is not a projection of a player’s NFL capabilities. Rather, it is a list of how each player should fare solely in college based on the skills they’ve shown at the collegiate level or, in some cases, back to their high school days.
131) Trey Lowe, Ty Keyes, Jake Lange | Southern Miss
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have a lot to figure out for the 2022 season. One of those things, simply put, is their passing attack. A year ago, the Golden Eagles had 10 different players attempt at least one pass and five different players throw at least one touchdown pass. That being said, they also had seven different players throw at least one interception.
By all accounts, it was a dismal season from a passing standpoint for Southern Miss, and getting that figured out will go a long way toward sustainability. Jake Lange had arguably the most success as he was able to get into the most rhythm with the most snaps at the position, but Trey Lowe offered more upside with his dual-threat ability and opening the season as the starter. Expect Lowe to get the snaps to start the year and hold on to it if he can stay healthy.
130) Clay Millen, Giles Pooler | Colorado State
Transferring in with new head coach Jay Norvell is Clay Millen, having attempted just a single pass attempt behind Carson Strong while at Nevada. Like his quarterback competition in Giles Pooler, Millen is a large quarterback but very inexperienced. Standing at 6’3 is Millen, while Pooler tips the scales at 6’5” and comes from Kentucky powerhouse high school St. Xavier.
Size won’t give you an advantage in our starting quarterback rankings, however, as it has to be proven on the field. Unfortunately for both redshirt freshman quarterbacks, their high school senior seasons were marred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and each of these two hasn’t played meaningful snaps in at least two years. While Colorado State will look a lot like Nevada Lite in 2022, they’ll be lacking top-notch quarterback play like the Jay Norvell teams have had in recent years back in Reno.
129) Jack Salopek, Mareyohn Hrabowski, Stone Hollenbach | Western Michigan
This quarterback room is a bit of a mystery at Western Michigan. Enter Stone Hollenbach after he enrolled at Alabama but took no snaps on the field. Return the likes of Jack Salopek and Mareyohn Hrabowski after they combined to attempt six passes a season ago. Add all that together and you get one of the more inexperienced and underwhelming quarterback rooms in the country.
Salopek was a single-season record holder at Norwin High School in Pennsylvania while Hrabowski wins with his legs more than his arm. It’s a random assortment of unproven talent at the most important position in team sports. It’s also safe to say this is a massive downgrade from Kaleb Eleby until proven otherwise.
128) John Paddock | Ball State
Longtime quarterback John Paddock likely gets his shot to lead the Ball State Cardinals in 2022. Paddock has attempted just over 30 pass attempts in his time with the program, spanning from 2018 to now.
Paddock, the all-time winningest quarterback in his high school’s history, will undoubtedly know the subtle nuances of the Ball State offense better than anyone else on the roster. But the question of his intangibles and arm strength will be raised until showcased on the field. He’s a surefire leader as evidenced by recent quotes surrounding the program, but the ultimate test will be backing it up on the field on Saturdays.
127) Chandler Fields, Ben Wooldridge, Lance Legendre | Louisiana
In all likelihood, the Ragin’ Cajuns’ offensive scheme stays the same under new head coach Michael Desormeaux, formerly their co-offensive coordinator. With that in mind, what do we know about the quarterbacks on the roster entering the 2022 season? Not much. Chandler Fields has played spot duty over the past three seasons, attempting just over 20 passes and rushing the ball even fewer. Lange Legendre – a Maryland transfer – last played in 2020 where he also play spot duties behind Taulia Tagovailoa.
Fields is the likely starter with his knowledge of the offense. But standing at 5’10, 198, he hardly strikes fear into defenses as he’ll be limited to mostly throwing from the pocket. It’ll be a rebuilding year for Louisiana, but if either one of these two quarterbacks shows promise, they can still win some games with this roster.
126) Andrew Peasley, Hank Gibbs | Wyoming
After four seasons with Utah State, Andrew Peasley lands at Wyoming for his final season. He’ll battle it out with former three-star QB recruit Hank Gibbs from Arkansas for the starting duty in 2022.
Peasley has a solid arm but was plagued by some questionable decision-making during his time at Utah State. He had one multi-touchdown performance a season ago with the Aggies, tossing three scores against Air Force but completing just over 50% of his passes for the season. Gibbs was a three-sport athlete at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas. He stands 6’5” and has some serious arm talent, similar to some former Wyoming quarterback that the Pokes have become known for over recent years.
125) Brady Olson | UMass
Completing fewer than 50% of his throws last season, Brady Olson was subject to some below-average wide receiver play around him. Olson stood tall in the pocket for UMass and delivered accurate shots when given time. He did attempt to force throws a bit too much at times. But with the holes in the Minutemen roster a season ago, it’s less his fault than it is the fault of the surrounding talent lacking in players who can create natural separation.
Olson knows adversity and has shown he can challenge defenses with his arm talent. It’s only a matter of time before they can string some victories under Don Brown with Olson at the helm.
124) Ta’Quan Roberson, Tyler Phommachanh | UConn
It’s been a while since Ta’Quan Roberson was at the top of his game. In the same way, it’s been a while since UConn had a quarterback at the top of their game as well. Roberson, a former four-star recruit and Penn State quarterback, gives the Huskies hope under Jim Mora Jr. He was the eighth-ranked dual-threat quarterback from the class of 2019, playing his high school football at DePaul Catholic. Roberson attempted just under 30 pass attempts during his time at Penn State, tossing two interceptions against Iowa in his only game with meaningful snaps.
Battling alongside Roberson will be Tyler Phommachanh, who actually surprised with his arm talent and ability to lead the offense to success with his arm talent and legs prior to injury against Vanderbilt. They’re not the biggest duo of quarterbacks, but they both have upside and high-level play in them. That’s something UConn hasn’t had a lot of recently.
123) Wiley Green, TJ McMahon, JoVoni Johnson | Rice
The multi-quarterback situation at Rice didn’t quite work out last year. Nor did the Luke McCaffrey experiment. With Wiley Green, TJ McMahon, and JoVoni Johnson in the mix, fall camp better generate one leader in the clubhouse so the Owls can avoid a repeat of 2021 this fall.
Green is the most experienced, starting three games in total a season ago and tallying nearly 2,000 passing yards over the past four seasons. He’s a big passer with a big arm, provided he has time to throw. McMahon played in relief as the season wore down for Rice, averaging a healthy 10.1 yards per attempt in his lone game. Johnson, on the other hand, hasn’t played since 2020 when he did little to invoke fear but did at least take care of the football when he was in the lineup. It’s any man’s job at this rate, but Rice would be much better off if one of these three separated themselves before Week 1.
122) Riley Leonard, Jordan Moore | Duke
It wasn’t a pretty display of passing for the Duke Blue Devils a season ago, fielding multiple starters and spotty play across the board. Despite Gunnar Holmberg’s knowledge of the offense, it still felt like this team lacked luster with the ball in their hands and were ultra-dependent on favorable field position or special teams.
As that’s unlikely to win many games in the ACC this season, Riley Leonard or Jordan Moore will have to take a step up. Leonard started against Virginia Tech, completing fewer than 50% of his passes. Moore also played against the Hokies, throwing his first collegiate touchdown in the outing, but logging just two more pass attempts after.
Both big presences in the pocket, Moore and Leonard equally have some extra in their legs. It remains to be seen who takes the starting reins with a solid fall camp, but what we have seen out of both in reserve duty gives pause for much more than another middling ACC performance from the Blue Devils.
121) Jacolby Criswell, Drake Maye | North Carolina
With a combined 35 pass attempts between the two of them, the North Carolina duo of Jacolby Criswell and Drake Maye are a long way from the ACC record-setting quarterback play of recent years in Chapel Hill. Criswell, the more experienced of the two, has thrown 25 career attempts, including 21 a season ago, completing 13 for 179 yards. Maye was 7-of-10 a season ago for 89 yards with both performances coming in relief duty against Georgia State and Wofford.
For ranking purposes here, we have to look back at recruiting prowess of the two, most notably, Maye. A former five-star prospect according to 247Spots, Maye was the class of 2021’s ninth-ranked quarterback on their composite rankings while Criswell was the class of 2020’s 11th-ranked dual-threat quarterback and the second-ranked player coming out of Arkansas.
It seems as if the recruiting profile gives Maye the edge as does his height and overall athleticism in the pocket from his high school days when he threw for over 6,000 yards in his final two seasons. High school is different, as we all know, and Maye will have to prove that high level of play from as far back as 2019 can translate into 2022.
120) Dino Maldonado, Weston Eget | New Mexico State
After years with Jonah Johnson calling the shots, New Mexico State is moving on to a new signal-caller in either Dino Maldonado or Weston Eget. Maldonado took the majority of snaps in two games during Johnson’s absence early on a season ago, showcasing some potential against South Carolina State to the tune of three touchdowns and over 300 yards.
After traveling from Portland State to Ventura College, it appears as though the starting gig in Las Cruces is his. There’s a dual-threat ability in his game, but he’ll have to rely on his ability to find receivers open across the field as he did against South Carolina State and not how he did in relief against New Mexico to really move up these rankings.
119) Collin Schlee | Kent State
Arm strength certainly won’t be in question for Collin Schlee as he takes over as Kent State’s starting quarterback in 2022. A former two-sport standout at Oakdale High School in Maryland, Schlee stands 6’3” and 218 pounds. A dynamic athlete, Schlee is best when he has time to process the field and stand tall to deliver powerful shots.
This is no indictment on his ability as a runner, as he’ll do just fine in the QB-friendly system that is Kent State’s. There is a lot of hope built-in for Schlee as he takes over for one of the best in program history (Dustin Crum), but he has a lot to prove at this point in his career.
118) Chandler Rogers, Jiya Wright | UL-Monroe
The UL-Monroe Warhawks were just a few plays away from a much better overall record a season ago. A lot of those minor lapses, unfortunately, could be placed on the offense’s lack of cashing in and sustaining drives. Though Chandler Rogers didn’t turn the ball over much, there was a lack of firepower with him at the helm in the meat of the season in 2021. Save for the performance against South Alabama in which he threw four touchdowns, Rogers was held to no touchdowns or a single passing touchdown in four of his seven starts.
That has paved the way for an apparent quarterback battle between Rogers and Jiya Wright. Both transfers into the program, Rogers and Wright have decorated pasts and could stand to improve with stability within the program. Either way, they’ll have to play better and play sustainably if they want to win more games in Monroe this fall.
117) Gunnar Holmberg, Haden Carlson, Grayson James | Florida International
The assumption here is that Gunnar Holmberg wins the job or was essentially promised the job after transferring in from Duke. Helping aid a young quarterback room, Holmberg completed 67% of his passes for 2,358 yards a season ago for the Blue Devils. However, Holmberg did struggle at times with progressive reads and failed to find the end zone when it counted most. He finished the season with just seven touchdowns against eight interceptions.
Haden Carlson and Grayson James hail from large high school football programs and have relatively high upsides if you take recruiting rankings into consideration. James may be the long-term answer for FIU as he led Duncanville High School to a near 6A state championship in Texas after throwing for over 3,800 yards and finishing as an Elite 11 finalist during his high school career.
116) D’Wan Mathis | Temple
As decorated as his high school career was, D’Wan Mathis hasn’t done much to validate his former recruiting notoriety. A former four-star prospect, Mathis was at one point the 11th-ranked pro-style quarterback for the class of 2019. After signing with Georgia, Mathis transferred after two seasons in Athens that saw him throw three interceptions and a single touchdown in mop-up duty. He transferred to Temple and entered the 2021 season as the inherit starter for the Owls. However, after injuring his ankle in the season opener, the 2021 season went downhill for him and Temple as a whole.
Mathis averaged just 6.2 yards per throw and threw six touchdowns against four interceptions. His inaccuracy plagued him for most of the season before re-injuring himself against ECU in Week 10. Ending the season on a sour note, Mathis will hope for a proverbial return to glory with sustained healthy play in 2022.
115) Hunter Dekkers | Iowa State
For the first time in what feels like a decade, Iowa State starts a season without Brock Purdy as their starting QB. After two years of learning behind Purdy, Hunter Dekkers enters the lineup as the starter in Ames in 2022. The 13th-ranked dual-threat quarterback from his class, Dekkers has a high pedigree and strong recruiting profile to live up to as well as high expectations for the QB position after Purdy rewrote the Iowa State record book during his tenure with the program.
A solid passer, Dekkers has been able to show more with his legs in his brief time in the lineup for the Cyclones. Still, he’s got a big arm with the talent to push the ball downfield. He just hasn’t been able to showcase it due to the situations he’s been put in. Much like a lot of the quarterbacks down this far in the rankings, Dekkers will have a lot to prove and his place in our starting quarterback rankings is more indicative of that unproven nature and the nature of the fact that there are a plethora of proven quarterbacks returning to college football this fall.
114) Brady Cook, Jack Abraham | Missouri
In a drastic difference in collegiate careers, Jack Abraham is looking for one final run to glory while Brady Cook is looking to build off a strong performance in his first college start that ended the season a year ago. After enrolling at Louisiana Tech in 2016, Abraham left the program for Northwest Mississippi Community College before enrolling at Southern Miss from 2018-20. Abraham finished his career with Southern Miss by throwing for over 7,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. After spending 2021 with Mississippi State, but injured, Abraham earned a medical redshirt to allow him to transfer to Missouri and play one final season.
Cook, on the other hand, earned his first start against Army in the Armed Forces Bowl to end the 2021 season. Though they lost, Cook was impressive, completing nearly 80% of his passes for over 200 yards. Cook has the upside while Abraham has the experience. It’ll be a battle to watch this fall but one to be wary of as Abraham hasn’t played at a high level in nearly two years while Cook is still young and inexperienced.
113) Ryan Hilinski | Northwestern
It’s been a very interesting ride for Ryan Hilinski in his collegiate journey. After impressing with some big throws during his first season starting at South Carolina in 2019, Hilinski played just a handful of snaps in 2020 and transferred to Northwestern for the 2021 season. Hilinski threw for 978 yards and three touchdowns across nine games last year. He averaged just 5.6 yards per attempt but enters the year as the team’s starter for 2022.
Hilinski, at one point, was one of the top-ranked prospects hailing from the state of California. If he can lean on what made him so successful at Orange Lutheran, he’ll lead the Wildcats to more victories than they saw a season ago.
112) Evan Prater, Ben Bryant | Cincinnati
In his first season away from Cincinnati, Ben Bryant impressed at the helm of Eastern Michigan. Now back at Cincinnati after sitting behind Desmond Ridder for three seasons and spending last year with the Eagles, Bryant will battle Evan Prater for the starting nod in the Queen City. Bryant completed nearly 70% of his passes last year for EMU, throwing for 3,121 yards and 14 touchdowns. The offense was relatively simple at Eastern Michigan and he’ll be asked to do a bit more with the Bearcats. But he certainly knows his way around the offense.
Prater, on the other hand, got experience in four games a season ago but attempted just 11 passes, all in clean-up duty. He’s a big-armed signal-caller with a lot to prove but he certainly has the attention of the coaching staff in Cincinnati and subsequently us here at Pro Football Network.
111) DJ Uiagalelei | Clemson
To be completely honest, it wasn’t pretty a season ago for DJ Uiagalelei. He averaged an ACC-worst 6.0 yards per pass attempt and an ACC-low touchdown-to-interception ratio of 9-10. Uiagalelei left a lot of throws on the table and was completely erratic and sporadic with his positive play. The worst part about the season for Uiagalelei is the fact that he failed to excel even at times against far inferior defenses across from him.
It seemed a lot longer ago than just 20+ months that Uiagalelei was the top-ranked quarterback prospect in the nation and a top-10 overall player in the class of 2020. It’s very clear that the talent is there both from an arm strength and athleticism standpoint, but the intangibles lacked in 2021. He was slow to react and even slower to deliver. Defenses moved much faster than he did and the clock will be ticking on whether or not he can rebound for Clemson with highly-touted Cade Klubnik in the wings.
110) Isaiah Chavez, Miles Kendrick | New Mexico
It wasn’t pretty for the New Mexico Lobos a season ago. After winning their first two games of the season, the offense was stymied and held to just two scores in all but one game to end the year. However, Isaiah Chavez provided a spark when he was reinserted into the lineup in Week 8 against Wyoming.
Chavez, though not quite making a big impact with his arm, kept the Lobos’ offense on schedule, essentially playing keep away and pulling out a victory against the Cowboys in his first start of the season. He finished the year with just 161 passing yards and two touchdowns, showing his ability to find his receivers when necessary while toting the rock 16 times for 49 yards in the victory. The rest of the year wasn’t quite the same, but with a clean bill of health and the hopefully healthy battle from Kansas transfer Miles Kendrick pushing him, Chavez can improve his game and the New Mexico offense in the process.
109) Nate Cox, Shane Illingworth | Nevada
It’s a great thing that the Nevada Wolf Pack received Shane Illingworth’s services from the transfer portal after some off-field indiscretions from Nate Cox this offseason. Cox, the massive 6’9” quarterback who saw time in relief of Carson Strong a season ago, had a DUI arrest in early June. He was largely seen as the potential heir apparent to Strong’s throne, but now appears that Illingworth may be the stopgap for the 2022 season.
A big quarterback in his own regard, Illinworth stands at 6’6” and comes after two seasons of spot duty behind Spencer Sanders at Oklahoma State. Illingworth saw his most extensive action during a two-game starting streak in 2020, blowing out a Kansas team that was depleted. There was a lot to like in his game against Kansas, but equally some issues in his mechanics and late throws in other outings in his career. Not to mention the fact that he’ll have to learn the new offense, as will the entire offense in Reno this fall with a new coaching staff.
108) J.T. Shrout, Brendon Lewis | Colorado
There were some highs and some lows for Brendon Lewis in his first season as the starter at Colorado in 2021. He started every game for the Buffs a year ago, finishing with 1,540 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Lewis averaged just 6.0 yards per attempt, however, as the Colorado offense rarely struck fear into the opposing defense.
J.T. Shrout enters the lineup after two seasons at Tennessee where he last played in 2020. Lewis has the talent to expand on what he was able to produce a season ago while Shrout may have more untapped potential as he constantly battled for snaps at Tennessee. This will be an interesting battle to watch develop as Colorado has a lot of questions on their roster and the quarterback position will be what ultimately leads them to success or lack thereof this fall.
107) Ken Seals, Mike Wright | Vanderbilt
In seven starts last year, Ken Seals threw for 1,181 yards and five touchdowns against eight interceptions. In the subsequent five starts, Mike Wright threw for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns against six interceptions. Sure, Wright played in sub situations in five other games to help buoy his statistics, but the fact of the matter is that neither quarterback took control of the position and saw much success.
Wright is a big-armed quarterback with good accuracy but suffers from questionable decision-making. Seals is the more conservative of the two, pressing the ball downfield very little, yet still making some troubling decisions himself. There is a lot to like about their ability to throw from clean pockets, but it remains to be seen if either of these two can withstand a 12-game SEC schedule with much success.
106) Matthew Downing, Parker McNeil | Louisiana Tech
It’s safe to say that Matthew Downing’s college career hasn’t gone quite to plan. After one season at Georgia, Downing spent the past two seasons at TCU where he attempted 34 passes and threw just one touchdown. After Louisiana Tech lost both Aaron Allen and Luke Anthony to the transfer portal, Downing is joined by former Texas Tech QB Parker McNeil to join the program via the transfer portal themselves.
McNeil didn’t play at Texas Tech a season ago but was a JUCO All-American during his time at Navarro College, leading the NJCAA in passing yards in each of his two seasons. Downing has the pedigree that took him to Georgia once upon a time while McNeil threw for 6,635 passing yards in just two seasons at Navarro. If McNeil can put up that kind of performance in practice, he can absolutely win the job from Downing and even provide a boost for the Bulldogs in Sonny Cumbie’s first year as the Louisiana Tech head coach.
105) Brayden Schager | Hawaii
It was Brayden Schager that took over for Chevan Cordeiro midway through the season before ultimately yielding the position back to Cordeiro to end the year. Schager went 2-1 in his three starts and showcased his accuracy in multiple outings.
Now, with the starting role all his, Schager can build on his performance as a true freshman a season ago and hope to have more success like that he saw against New Mexico State where he completed 16 straight passes. He’ll have to prove he can hit all levels of the field before moving up in the rankings here but the trajectory of the program as a whole is on the up and up on the Big Island.
104) Spencer Petras | Iowa
There certainly is a lot to like about the physical stature of Spencer Petras. At 6’5” and 233 pounds, Petras looks the part. He certainly has given his full self to the Iowa program as he enters his fifth year in Iowa City. However, Petras has largely not taken his game to any level other than that of a low-level Big Ten quarterback. He has averaged a lifetime 6.4 yards per pass attempt and thrown 19 career touchdowns in two years as the starting quarterback.
Petras runs the offense well and gives the Hawkeyes a chance to win with his precision to the game plan, but he has yet to truly elevate the Iowa offense with his passing. It’s the final season for Petras to ingratiate himself with the Iowa fans. If he does that, he moves up in these rankings. If he doesn’t, well, then it’s not just these rankings he’ll move out of.
103) Desmond Trotter, Carter Bradley | South Alabama
The South Alabama Jaguars have been subject to an influx of talent at the quarterback position through the transfer portal in each of the past two seasons. Yet, Desmond Trotter has weathered the storm. The big-armed pocket passer has thrown for over 3,000 passing yards in spotty starting duty over the past three seasons, including nearly 600 yards a year ago playing behind Jake Bentley.
In 2022, Trotter will have to fight his way past former Toledo quarterback Carter Bradley. In four seasons with the Rockets, Bradley has passed the 2,000-yard mark and thrown for 14 touchdowns with just 10 career starts. Bradley has a solid arm as well as plus athleticism with his legs to buy time in the pocket. Though he certainly brings with him experience, Trotter certainly knows this offense better and has the experience himself to weather the storm to defeat a transfer quarterback for the starting nod yet again.
102) Hayden Wolff, D.J. Mack Jr. | Old Dominion
In what could only be seen as a miraculous story from the 2021 season, Old Dominion returned to the field and made a bowl appearance against Bowling Green after voluntarily sitting out the entire 2020 season during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hayden Wolff was a large reason for the team’s success, taking over the starting quarterback position midway through the season.
Wolff is a large quarterback at 6’5” and has a big arm with some sound mobility in his game in the pocket. Former UCF QB D.J. Mack Jr. aids Wolff in the backfield, earning the starting nod during last year’s preseason. The Monarchs were much more successful with Wolff as the starting quarterback a season ago, so this quarterback battle is worrisome for ranking purposes here. Still, if Wolff earns the nod, on that alone, they’ll move up the rankings (just a bit, at least).
101) Tyhier Tyler | Army
After one of the more successful quarterbacks in recent history departs, Tyhier Tyler is set to replace Christian Anderson as the starting quarterback for the Black Knights. Tyler has certainly proven himself as a talented runner and even had four starts a season ago. He has recorded nearly 500 yards in each of the past two seasons but has yet to prove himself to be able to throw when the situation calls for it.
Tyler seems one-dimensional, for now, and also lacks a bit from the stature standpoint as he stands at 5’8” and 185. He’ll certainly find the smallest of creases on the ground, but Army may have to find creative ways for him to get the ball out of his hands with clear throwing lanes in the passing game when it’s called upon.
100) Mikey Keene, John Rhys Plumlee | UCF
Finishing the season as the starter after an injury to Dillon Gabriel, Mikey Keene is set to battle former Ole Miss QB-turned-WR John Rhys Plumlee for the starting role in 2022. Plumlee recorded 18 receptions for 200 yards a season ago before transferring and switching back to quarterback. Prior to that, Plumlee played spottily over the past two seasons but threw for 910 yards and four touchdowns in 2019.
Keene, on the other hand, may have the upper hand as the Hawaii native threw for 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns a season ago. Keene, however, did lack the ability that Gabriel showcased was possible in the UCF offense to hit receivers on the outside and in the deep game. He was limited to the short and intermediate areas of the field with his throws if he wanted to keep his accuracy in check. And as such, Keen averaged just 6.4 yards per attempt.
There’s a lot to like about Keene if he can showcase the ability to hit every level of the field. But until then, and until a starter is named, there’s more in the question than UCF has had to deal with in recent memory.
99) Luke Altmyer, Jaxson Dart | Ole Miss
It wasn’t until the Sugar Bowl that Luke Altmyer played meaningful snaps for Ole Miss behind Matt Corral. Altmyer, thrust into the lineup against Baylor, didn’t light up the scoreboard by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, he turned the ball over twice, but it wasn’t always his fault. Altmyer, however, may not have done enough to warrant keeping the job he was set to inherit after Corral left for the NFL.
Enter Jaxson Dart from USC. Dart, who started the final three games for USC last year, started his career off with a bang, throwing four first-half touchdowns against Washington State in relief of Kedon Slovis in Week 3 of his true freshman season. A highly-touted recruit from the state of Utah, Dart was ranked as the 10th-best quarterback of the class of 2021 and drew comparisons to former Corner Canyon High School standout Zach Wilson. At 6’3” and 215 pounds, he may be the future for the Lane Train in Oxford as he provides arm talent and athleticism to boot.
98) Austin Aune, Grant Gunnell | North Texas
All has not been fine since North Texas lost the program’s most illustrious passer in their history. After Mason Fine left Denton, Austin Aune was set to take over, and the Mean Green were supposed to be in good hands. However, after battling with Jason Bean in 2020, Aune was once again forced to prove his worth in 2021 against former UNC QB Jace Ruder.
Aune stepped his game up down the stretch, winning five straight to close the year. Yet, after failing to capitalize against a Miami (OH) team in their bowl game appearance, Aune is subject to another quarterback battle this fall.Grant Gunnell is incredibly traveled at this time of his career, and somehow, the jury is still out on his ability as an FBS quarterback.
Gunnell had a very impressive freshman season in 2019 with Arizona alongside Khalil Tate but failed to repeat that success in 2020, leading to his departure to Memphis for the 2021 season. He now finds himself in yet another QB battle after failing to take any snaps at Memphis.
Aune and Gunnell possess similar skill sets as quarterbacks with big arms, though Gunnell has a slight advantage at 6’6”. There’s a lot to like about both quarterbacks singularly, but as a QB battle that seems like it will last all season long, the murkiness of the situation dwindles their impact as a duo.
97) Jalon Daniels, Jason Bean | Kansas
It should be said that for all the success Jason Bean has had in his career, Jalon Daniels was the starting QB for Kansas in the biggest win of the program’s last decade. Daniels completed 70% of his passes, threw three touchdowns, and ran for another when the Jayhawks upset Texas, 57-56, in 2021.
Daniels presents a challenge with that dual-threat ability mainly due to the fact that he can buy time in or out of the pocket while allowing his receivers to get open. Bean, a similar quarterback, has a talented arm but has suffered from inaccuracy over his time at North Texas and Kansas.
Both quarterbacks are well documented as having success with their legs, but as unsustainable as that is in the growing Big 12 Conference, one of these two will have to step up with their prowess in the passing game to win more than two contests in 2022.
96) Casey Thompson | Nebraska
In need of new surroundings, Casey Thompson has transferred from Texas to Nebraska with hopes of resurging his career. There was a lot to like about his time in Austin, but he was cast aside when the highly-touted Quinn Ewers was recruited through the transfer portal from Ohio State.
Now at Nebraska, Thompson will hope his consistency improves, and he can continue to win games he should win and not fall flat after an impressive performance. Thompson would all too often torch opposing defenses for multiple touchdowns and follow it up with an inaccurate display, one or even no touchdown passes, and ultimately a tick in the loss column.
That level of inconsistency on a per-game and even per-throw basis left the coaching staff at Texas exploring all options. And they seem set on debuting Ewers as their starting QB until Arch Manning enters the fray next fall.
For Thompson, the system at Nebraska may pit to his strengths even more, similar to how it did for McKenzie Milton under Scott Frost at UCF. Thompson has a lot to work through in terms of accuracy, decision-making, and those consistency issues. Nevertheless, Frost has shown he can harness the best out of his quarterbacks at times. If that happens, expect Thompson to rise in our top quarterback rankings as well as win some games in the Big Ten.
95) Jack Plummer, Kai Millner | Cal
It may be a distant past among college football standards, but Jack Plummer’s 2019 season was pretty sound. Plummer has followed that up with some other impressive work through the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Purdue.
However, even after throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions a year ago, Plummer has to contend with a complete shift in offensive philosophy under Cal offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Transferring programs is one thing, but leaving the wide-open Brian Brohm offense for the pro-style Musgrave playbook will be an undertaking.
Enter Kai Millner, the highly-touted former four-star recruit from Arizona. Millner, having been with the program since early 2021, may have a leg up with his knowledge of the offense and athleticism that draws comparisons to Taysom Hill. Plummer has the experience, but Millner has the upside that Cal fans may be clamoring for and head coach Justin Wilcox may need to stay in-house.
94) DJ Irons | Akron
At a massive 6’6”, DJ Irons inherits the starting role at Akron after finishing last season with 892 yards and eight touchdown passes. He didn’t begin the 2021 season as the starter, beating out Zach Gibson after the first two weeks of the season, but played heavily in both contests. The Zips went 1-2 with Irons as the starting quarterback, defeating Bryant with losses against Ohio State and Ohio before Irons was injured and unable to win the starting role again.
Still, Irons offered an upside and ability to hit the deep portions of the field, making the Zips more vertically threatening than Gibson. Subsequently, Gibson is now at Georgia Tech, and Irons will have his time to shine. If he can improve his ability to find open receivers in the intermediate portions of the field like he showcased he can do on deep shots, Irons may have the Zips winning more than two games in 2022.
93) Kyle Vantrease | Georgia Southern
It took Kyle Vantrease three seasons to get the starting nod at Buffalo and ultimately five seasons for him to find a new home as he transferred to Georgia Southern for one final campaign. Vantrease nearly totaled 5,000 passing yards in his time at Buffalo and showed a nose for the end zone with his rushing ability.
He won’t wow you athletically, but somehow, some way, Vantrease put his team in position to win more often than he put them in harm’s way. Improving his ability to find his receivers down the field will go a long way in Vantrease winning some games for Georgia Southern in 2022.
92) James Blackman | Arkansas State
After four seasons at Florida State, James Blackman traveled north to Jonesboro, battling his way to starting quarterback for Arkansas State instead of longtime Red Wolves QB Layne Hatcher. Blackman fought through it with Hatcher until he was injured against Coastal Carolina in Week 6. Still, his performance in his first season at Arkansas State left an impact as he retained the starting role, and Hatcher has moved on to Texas State.
Blackman, though slight for his massive 6’5” frame, still has the arm talent to launch passes downfield. He can hit all levels of the field but will have to improve his down-for-down accuracy and decision-making as he looks to lead a new receiving corps for the Red Wolves against a talented Sun Belt this season.
91) Jayden de Laura, Jordan McCloud | Arizona
Limping to a 1-11 record a season ago, the Arizona Wildcats were a disappointment in head coach Jedd Fisch’s first season with the program. Fisch, a terrific QB coach, never seemed to find footing with his quarterback room, which may also be the case this season. Entering the picture is former Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura to challenge incumbent Jordan McCloud, a former USF transfer.
McCloud was unimpressive in 2021, throwing five interceptions against two touchdowns, while de Laura moved on from the Cougars after throwing 28 touchdown passes over the past two seasons. Though he was marred with inconsistency issues and an inability to find receivers with accuracy to every level of the field, de Laura offers much better mechanics than McCloud. He’s sound over the middle of the field and may unlock more under Fisch than he would have during the turnover period at Washington State.
90) Noah Vedral | Rutgers
It’s been quite a journey for Noah Vedral during his college football career. After a season with UCF, Vedral transferred with Scott Frost to Nebraska but was unable to unseat Adrian Martinez as the starting quarterback. Now, entering his third season at Rutgers, Vedral and Greg Schiano have seemingly started to turn the corner with the program.
Vedral forces the ball at times but has displayed an ability to accurately float passes for plays only his receivers can make while showing he can power throws past defenders all the same. Avoiding those interceptable pass attempts will be key in his development in his sixth season in college football.
89) Tyler Buchner | Notre Dame
The stage is set for Tyler Buchner to break through and push Notre Dame back to national prominence in 2022. Buchner, who played in 10 games a season ago, logged meaningful snaps in just a single outing during his true freshman season against Virginia Tech. His ability with his legs was on full display against the Hokies, rushing for 67 yards and becoming the first-ever Notre Dame true freshman quarterback to log a passing and rushing touchdown in one game.
Still, Buchner was uber reliant upon his legs against the Hokies in the victory and will have to show a bit more from his arm in 2022. He was billed as the fifth-best player from the state of California from the class of 2021, mainly due to the skill he’s shown with the ball in his hand on the ground. Buchner clearly has a bevy of skill overall but will need to harness some of the arm talent he showed off in 2019 at Bishop’s High School.
88) Tommy DeVito, Artur Sitkowski | Illinois
The Illinois coaching staff moved quickly on incoming quarterback Tommy DeVito after he announced his decision to transfer from Syracuse earlier this year. DeVito will battle incumbent QB Artur Sitkowski after he split reps with Brandon Peters in his first year with the program after transferring himself.
Sitkowski showed a lot of growth following an abysmal time at Rutgers, throwing six touchdowns and nearly 700 yards in just five games. But the job should belong to DeVito in 2022 for the Fighting Illini to have more success this fall than they did a year ago.
DeVito has a documented dual-threat ability but failed to receive much help from his receivers during his time at Syracuse. He can hit all levels of the field with pace and accuracy while presenting an ability to maneuver the pocket with his athleticism while keeping his eyes downfield. Stability is an underrated aspect in college football, and though they won’t have it this season, the Illini can at least continue to lean on veterans leading their program through the transfer portal as they can with DeVito this season.
87) Matt Myers | Buffalo
Gone is Vantrease, as it’s officially the Matt Myers Show at Buffalo. Myers finished last season with 703 passing yards and a 4:5 TD-to-INT ratio, starting the final two games against Northern Illinois and Ball State.
It should be noted that four of those interceptions came against Ball State in the season finale, as Myers was actually very effective against NIU the week prior in relief of Vantrease. Myers presents a challenging figure in the pocket with his size and arm strength but will have to avoid mistakes in 2022 to win more games for head coach Maurice Linguist and Co.
86) Quinn Ewers | Texas
The highest-ranked quarterback in our top QB rankings to not have thrown a collegiate pass, Quinn Ewers brings with him something the Texas Longhorns have lacked over the past few seasons: hope. Still, expectations must be tempered despite Ewers finishing with the highest available 247Sports Composite grade of 1.0000.
Tempering expectations for Ewers isn’t easy to do but is certainly warranted, considering he skipped out on his senior season of high school football and didn’t play a single snap last year. Given that he had a COVID-19-influenced season in 2020, Ewers has played just eight football games over the past two seasons.
Sure, he can throw it from any angle with strength and has moxie that even the soon-to-be SEC defenses Texas will face can’t shake, but he’ll have to shake off the rust and adjust to the CFB speed on the fly in 2022. Until he showcases he can handle that at the highest ability he showed in high school, Ewers will remain with untapped potential. But trust me, if he does the things he did in high school in Year 1 at Texas, he’ll vault up these rankings in a hurry.
85) Bo Nix | Oregon
After three seasons at Auburn, Bo Nix went looking for greener pastures. He found greener uniforms with the Oregon Ducks, as we’ll continue to be mindful of the middling QB he was during his time at Auburn before crowning him one of the better Pac-12 quarterbacks.
Nix lacks the pocket presence of an elite QB, all too often missing open receivers or unable to adjust to defensive speed to put power on his throws or take something off his passes all the same. He does have solid dual-threat ability but is too reliant upon that when the pocket breaks down, or he breaks contain, looking for rushing yardage as opposed to keeping his eyes downfield.
Nix does possess a talented and live arm and may be seen as an upgrade over last year’s Anthony Brown transfer experiment. Still, he’ll have to make better decisions with the football and increase his intangibles before he factors any higher in our top quarterback rankings.
84) Harrison Bailey | UNLV
Transferring out west after two years at Tennessee, Harrison Bailey possesses some of the best quarterback mechanics in the nation. At one point, Bailey was the third-ranked pro-style QB in the class of 2020 and even looked the part back in 2020 against Vanderbilt. He has a big arm and prototypical size at 6’5”, 225 pounds.
The UNLV Rebels saw great success with Cameron Friel at QB but will likely turn to the upside that Bailey presents from his pedigree and decorated background in the Georgia high school football ranks. Bailey can be accurate with the football as well as quick with his decisions. If he can show that he’s that same quarterback that garnered a five-star rating in high school and completed over 70% of his passes in 2020 with Tennessee, he’ll move up these rankings like UNLV will move up the Mountain West standings.
83) Blake Shapen | Baylor
Forcing Gerry Bohanon to transfer to USF, the starting quarterback job in Waco is Blake Shapen’s for the 2022 season and beyond. Perhaps it was the Big 12 Championship Game record 17 straight completions or the fact that he completed 72.1% of his passes a season ago. But either way you slice it, Shapen was apparently the long-term answer for head coach Dave Aranda and Co. at Baylor.
Shapen doesn’t have the prototypical size of a pocket passer, but there is no denying his arm talent. The former baseball player is no slouch when it comes to using his legs, yet his ability to navigate the field with his arm, hitting every level, will pay dividends in 2022. Shapen has a lot to prove as he takes over for the Bears, but the sky is the limit for him in the Big 12, with arguably one of the nation’s better offensive lines in front of him.
82) Jeff Sims, Zach Gibson | Georgia Tech
As athletically gifted as Jeff Sims is, the simple fact remains: Sims went 1-5 as the starter for Georgia Tech last season and 3-7 the year before. Sims gives the Yellow Jackets an edge athletically over the opposing defenses, but until he harnesses down-for-down accuracy and consistency on a per-pass basis, that’s all they have.
Sims is a large quarterback at 6’3” yet plays like a much quicker, dual-threat, already eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark as a runner in two seasons. Turnovers have plagued much of his growth through two seasons, both on the ground and through the air, something Akron transfer Zach Gibson just simply doesn’t do.
Gibson started five games for the Zips last season, completing nearly 70% of his passes and throwing 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Gibson is a pure pocket passer with a great delivery and much-improved mechanics. He drives the football with enough power to hit every level of the field and showed an understanding of when to throw his receivers open or take something off the ball in 2021.
In the rarest of occurrences does a two-quarterback system work out, but when they’re as starkly different as these two are, perhaps the Yellow Jackets could be on to something here.
81) Austin Smith, Taylor Powell | Eastern Michigan
The Eastern Michigan QB situation is a unique one. While Austin Smith has one career collegiate pass attempt to his credit, he’ll battle it out with wily veteran Taylor Powell for reps in 2022. Powell played two seasons for Missouri before transferring to Troy in 2021. He served as the answer at quarterback when Troy’s Gunnar Watson was unavailable, throwing for 1,237 yards and seven touchdowns in just seven appearances.
Powell has a big arm and is no stranger to using it downfield. He can easily push it downfield and throws from unique angles if necessary without skipping a beat. Though well-traveled, the Eagles may have their short-term answer and a solid quarterback for the younger Smith to continue to learn from.
80) Cade McNamara, J.J. McCarthy | Michigan
If you’re new to these top quarterback rankings, one thing you’ll quickly learn is the fact that we look down upon QB battles at this point of the season. If neither quarterback has separated themselves as the clear-cut starter by now, especially in the case for Michigan, then it leads to bitter competition in August, which has an adverse effect on team morale and ultimately team success that season.
For the Wolverines, they simply are turning over too much personnel not to have a dedicated leader and QB to lead them through the offseason and into Week 1.
Cade McNamara certainly had an impressive season last year, leading them to the Big Ten Championship, but J.J. McCarthy will once again battle for reps. McCarthy comes in with a much higher recruiting pedigree as the 25th-ranked player from the class of 2021 and a five-star on the 247Sports Composite. If either QB takes the reins and runs with them in August, it will do the Wolverines a tremendous favor for their hopeful continued success in the Big Ten.
79) Haynes King, Max Johnson | Texas A&M
After discussing how much the quarterback rankings here don’t like QB battles, we travel down a bit south to College Station. The Texas A&M Aggies are once again entering the year with a decision to make at the quarterback position. Rewinding through head coach Jimbo Fisher’s career paints the picture that his QB battles may rage through the season as they did even when he was an offensive coordinator with Florida State.
Haynes King started the first two games of the season for the Aggies a year ago, throwing three interceptions against Kent State before ultimately fracturing his leg against Colorado.
Max Johnson transfers in from LSU, where he threw for nearly 3,000 yards a season ago. Johnson, however, was subject to far too many errant decisions and head-scratching throws despite lighting up the basic box score. He has prototypical size and great arm talent, but his intangibles will need to take a step up if he wants to win the job and move up these rankings.
78) Chase Cunningham | Middle Tennessee
The job is officially Chase Cunningham’s in Murfreesboro after taking over for Bailey Hockman last season. Cunningham, though slight in stature, plays much bigger than he stands. Despite tipping the scales at 5’11” and 190 pounds, Cunningham showcased tremendous arm strength and an ability to work every level. He’s not the mightiest, but he wills his team to success.
He also thrives when he has the time to work through his progressions and find open receivers while creating separation by throwing his receivers open at times. Cunningham will have to improve his consistency, but entering the season as the starter and with a clean bill of health will do wonders for his confidence.
77) Chevan Cordeiro | San Jose State
After two consecutive seasons throwing over 2,000 yards at Hawaii, Chevan Cordeiro transferred to the mainland and conference foe San Jose State. Cordeiro battled his way to the top of the depth chart at Hawaii and may very well do the same against Nick Nash at SJSU. He threw for 2,793 yards a season ago and had 20 total touchdowns, including 17 through the air and three more on the ground.
He’s a gifted runner with the football but also possesses the ability to work the sidelines incredibly well. Cordeiro gives the Spartans a true downfield thrower with his emergence in the lineup as the underrated receiving corps will see the most benefit.
76) Charlie Brewer, Kaidon Salter | Liberty
Far removed from the best football of his career, there is no denying the fact that Charlie Brewer has thrown over 10,000 career passing yards. After four seasons at Baylor, including back-to-back 3,000-yard campaigns, Brewer made a pitstop at Utah for three games before ultimately landing at Liberty for one final season. He’ll battle with highly-touted Kaidon Salter, a former Tennessee signee, for the reps in Lynchburg.
Salter, a documented track and field star, attempted just two passes for the Flames last year, throwing a touchdown against UMass in Week 9. There’s a lot to learn for Salter, and if we’re all being honest here, there are few better active quarterbacks to serve as a mentor to Salter than Brewer. The bigger question is can they work together to win games this fall?
The top 75 college quarterback rankings heading into the 2022 season
75) Timmy McClain, Gerry Bohanon | USF
Despite finishing the season as an honorable mention on our All-AAC team, Timmy McClain is left fighting for his job against Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon. After playing sparingly through the first two weeks, McClain earned the starting nod in Week 3. He did this just a year after leading his team to a state championship at the highest level in Florida high school football. McClain has dynamic dual-threat ability and rushed for 238 yards in addition to throwing for 1,888 yards and nine total touchdowns.
Bohanon enters the mix after leading Baylor to a 10-2 record during his starts and ultimately a Big 12 Championship despite not playing in the title match. However, Bohanon was vaulted by a terrific defense during his time as the starter in Waco but presented a challenge with his own dual-threat skill set. Both quarterbacks are capable of leading the Bulls to success in 2022 but will have to weather the quarterback battle process through the fall.
74) Kurtis Rourke | Ohio
The “younger Rourke” no more, Kurtis Rourke made a name for himself in 2021. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Rourke immediately gave Ohio an edge once he returned to the starting lineup down the stretch of the season last year. He threw for 1,801 yards and 11 touchdowns, seven of which came within three of his final four starts as he finished the season with a 2-2 record after returning to the starting lineup.
Rourke’s live arm was on display on multiple occasions last year, but most notable was his athleticism on the ground. Not only does Rourke provide fireworks through the air, but he’s consistent with his efforts to move the pocket and ultimately make positive plays out of just about any snap.
73) Tai Lavatai | Navy
Running the Navy offense incredibly well, Tai Lavatai really came into his own as last season progressed. Throwing out the first portion of the season as well as the Notre Dame game, where they were completely outmatched and had to abandon their usual game plan early, Lavatai was remarkably efficient once he returned to action in Week 5. Lavatai isn’t asked to get yards in chunks but rather take care of the football and make the right reads.
While there were some issues with that early on in the season, the correct decisions were made more often than not down the stretch. As you’d expect, the wins started to follow as the Midshipmen won three of their last five games. The blocking wasn’t the best in front of Lavatai in his first year as the starter and with some improved efforts in front of him in 2022, this Navy offense could be formidable with him at the helm.
72) Darren Grainger | Georgia State
Darren Grainger enters his second season as the Georgia State starting quarterback. Just two years removed from wowing as the QB of Furman against this very Georgia State team, Grainger returns after throwing for 1,715 yards and 19 touchdowns while rushing for another 670 yards. His dual-threat ability is certainly what wowed the staff at Georgia State when he threw for 311 yards, ran for another 53, and totaled five touchdowns against the Panthers back in 2019.
Grainger transferred to Georgia State and led the Panthers to an 8-5 record and a bowl victory last season. To be honest, they really should have won that game against Auburn as well as Grainger outplayed his counterpart handily in that outing. He’s careful and precise with his decision-making and has a cannon for an arm. With some consistent play against better competition, the Panthers may just be one of the teams to beat in the Sun Belt this year.
71) Matt McDonald | Bowling Green
Proving once again that his delivery works for him, Matt McDonald impressed in 2021. Throwing for 2,555 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, McDonald improved across the field. Though subject to sluggish wide receiver play at times, McDonald elevated his team around him and improved as the season went on.
The one-time Boston College QB proved what once made him a Power Five signee and delivered some very noteworthy football throws in the process. Quickening his decision-making over the middle of the field will go a long way as he has to work through his long delivery. Still, he makes it work for him more often than not.
70) Max Duggan | TCU
It’s been a wildly interesting career for Max Duggan at TCU. Very quietly, he’s thrown for nearly 6,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns over the past three seasons. He saw much better wide receiver play around him a season ago, and the success seemed to follow him at the same time.
Duggan has some terrific NFL-caliber throws in his arsenal but does fall suspect to ill-fated decisions and “yolo balls” at times. He’s more than capable as a runner with the ball in his hands but became less reliant upon that in 2021. Duggan proved he was capable of handling the starting duties when he was in the lineup for the Horned Frogs last year but must work on his consistency in the short area of the field as quick decisions plagued him at times.
69) Todd Centeio | James Madison
Traveling the country one college at a time, Todd Centeio is back on the east coast with his third school in four seasons. After three years at Temple, starting in 2017, Centeio spent the past two seasons at Colorado State. He saw his most extensive action last season, starting all 12 games for the Rams, seeing what could be best described as inconsistent success.
Still, Centeio is a dynamic athlete with the ball in his hands and arguably the most experienced player on the James Madison roster. The Dukes are set up for success with Centeio at the helm in their first year at the FBS level. The biggest question remaining around Centeio is whether or not he’ll be able to elevate the rest of this JMU team as early as Sept. 3. Our money is on yes, he will.
68) Garrett Shrader | Syracuse
The presence of Garrett Shrader in the backfield for Syracuse opens up favorable matchups for Sean Tucker in the process. Because of his ability on the ground, Shrader demands attention from linebackers and thus frees up Tucker at the second level. If defenses push attention to Tucker, Shrader has shown he’ll make them pay with his legs.
Of course, Shrader also throws the ball well enough to command attention from secondaries and does just enough with his arm to warrant keeping safeties at bay. Shrader is one of the more dynamic dual-threat options in the country but does suffer at times from inconsistency with his arm and becomes too dependent on his legs. Improving that down-for-down accuracy and decision-making will go a long way in taking him from a dynamic dual-threat to an overall sound quarterback with incredible rushing ability.
67) Sean Clifford | Penn State
Entering his fifth year with the program, Sean Clifford is back for the Penn State Nittany Lions once again. Clifford is encroaching on 10,000 career passing yards and has averaged 20 passing touchdowns a season. However, Clifford has rarely struck fear into opposing defenses with his arm. Rather, he’s a methodical manager of the game that slowly keeps the Nittany Lions offense on pace to victory.
Under Clifford, Penn State hasn’t quite been able to take that proverbial leap as the Buckeyes and Wolverines have owned the East for some time now. If Clifford wants to end his career on a high note, he’ll have to improve his ability to make reads on the fly and find his receivers in open spaces downfield a bit better. He does everything else incredibly well, so adding that layer to his game would take him up a notch.
66) Michael Penix, Sam Huard | Washington
Again, these rankings don’t love quarterback battles, but they certainly do love an uber-talented left-handed gunslinger like Sam Huard. Oh, and Michael Penix is as talented as they come. Here’s hoping he just needed a change of scenery.
After all, it was just last season that Penix was a top-10 QB returning to college football as his dynamic ability helped make Indiana a threat in the Big Ten. Penix has an amazing arm and an ability to make any throw from any level of the field. He was marred with inconsistency and ill-fated decisions a season ago and saw his way out of the program after four years at Indiana.
Huard, one of the top prospects from the class of 2021, failed to impress at Washington during his freshman season. But the situation around all the Huskies at the tail end of last season certainly wasn’t helping anyone. Going back to his high school days, Huard was the 12th-ranked overall prospect and third-best quarterback. He has an effortless release with the ability to hit every level of the field and quick decisions.
It seems that either way the new staff at Washington goes in 2022 — whether it’s Penix returning to form or Huard taking that proverbial sophomore leap — a big-armed lefty will be there to impress.
65) T.J. Finley | Auburn
Standing a dramatic 6’7” and 246 pounds, T.J. Finley is as menacing to see across the field from you as any quarterback you’ll find this year. However, Finley has yet to back up his awe-inspiring stature in either of his stops at LSU or Auburn yet. Yes, Finley took the job from Bo Nix a season ago and even came on in relief for Nix against Georgia State, leading Auburn to victory, but the fact of the matter remains: Finley has averaged just over six yards per attempt and has completed fewer than 60% of his throws in his career to date.
There’s no denying his talent, hence his spot in our top college football quarterback rankings. And yes, I’d say I am projecting a bit on him finding success as the No. 1 QB for head coach Bryan Harsin. But there’s no denying that Finley is deserving of all the attention of opposing defenses because of his arm talent and athleticism for a man his size.
64) Graham Mertz | Wisconsin
A harsh critic of Graham Mertz over the years, I remain bullish on being proven wrong when it comes to the Wisconsin QB. Mertz flashed as a true freshman on a very small sample size and has not quite done enough to vault into the upper echelon of Big Ten quarterbacks.
Yet, there’s still a lot to like about his game. He’ll stand tall and deliver accurate shots both to the sidelines and over the middle. Mertz has the size you’d prefer out of a dynamic pocket passer and he’s more than capable of elevating talent around him. But the decision-making and fact that he gets in his head too often are worrisome but coachable. Harnessing what he does well will be key to his and the Badgers’ success this season.
63) Gunnar Watson | Troy
With a big arm and even bigger frame, Gunnar Watson is back to once again lead the way for Troy in 2022. With immense arm talent, Watson rallied the Trojans to a 3-4 record down the stretch once he was healthy last year. He’s incredibly accurate and suffered from far too many receiver miscues a season ago. Watson completed just over 60% of his passes but was much more accurate than the general box score would indicate.
Watson can hit deep shots all the same as he can sling it in the short area of the field and is accurate over the middle of the field as well. Though he won’t add much with his legs, the Troy offense doesn’t need him to do more than deliver quick and accurate passes, something he’s very good at. With a clean bill of health and some more plays from his playmakers, Troy and Watson can easily compete in the Sun Belt this year.
62) Rocky Lombardi | Northern Illinois
Leading Northern Illinois to a MAC Championship last season, Rocky Lombardi proved why he was heavily recruited and spent three seasons at Michigan State. Lombardi averaged a healthy 7.6 yards per pass attempt and threw for 2,597 yards and 15 touchdowns. He wasn’t tasked with much at times. But when he was forced into action with his arm, Lombardi dotted passes to every level of the field with good accuracy.
The sporadic nature of his plus-passing is a bit concerning for continued success in 2022, but Lombardi isn’t asked to do all that much with the talent he shares the backfield with. Lombardi can win games for the Huskies in 2022 just as he proved he is capable of doing last season.
61) Myles Brennan, Jayden Daniels | LSU
Let it be known that few QB battles will get you in good graces in these top quarterback rankings. But with what Myles Brennan and Jayden Daniels have collectively shown in their careers, LSU may be in good hands with either one of them.
Brennan last played in 2020 when he threw the ball just over 100 times. Daniels enters the picture after three seasons at the helm of Arizona State. Both are big quarterbacks with varying degrees of quarterback skill sets.
Daniels is the dual-threat of the group, as he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards a season ago if you don’t take into account sack yardage. Brennan, the pocket passer, is coming off a bizarre injury but was absolutely dominant when he had the rock in his hands back in 2020. He threw for 11 touchdowns in just three games against SEC defenses with his mix of downfield accuracy and pop on his passes.
Still, expectations are kept in check with this duo as Brennan hasn’t played since Week 6 of 2020 and Daniels fell out of the good graces of not only his coaching staff but his teammates at Arizona State. Hopefully, it’s only up from here for both of them.
60) Dylan Hopkins | UAB
It feels like ages ago that Dylan Hopkins was coming in relief for longtime UAB standout QB Tyler Johnston. After starting nine of their final 10 games, Hopkins’ growth shown in 2021 leads many to believe that the Blazers will be in great hands with the same quarterback but new leadership in 2022. Hopkins has a big arm and despite a relatively elongated release, he makes it work more often than not. Hopkins saw double-digit yards per attempt in three of his final six starts last season, catching fire as the year went on and his confidence built.
For the season, he averaged 9.7 yards per attempt and threw for 2,275 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s no slouch in the run game either, chipping in with five touchdowns on the ground and multiple games with positive yardage on designed carries if you remove sack yardage lost at the college level.
59) Henry Colombi | Marshall
As far as well-traveled quarterbacks go, Henry Colombi belongs near the top of that list. Colombi spent his first three collegiate seasons under head coach Matt Wells at Utah State, playing behind first-round draft pick Jordan Love. Colombi threw for just over 500 yards during his time with the Aggies before transferring with coach Wells to Texas Tech just prior to the preseason camp with the Red Raiders. After two seasons at Texas Tech, Colombi’s success when he’s on his game was evident.
Colombi possesses an elite arm and is concise with his decisions, more often taking the right shot than delivering ill-fated throws. He’s a big QB with an essence of mobility that allows him to find open throwing lanes with his legs. He’ll be thrust into the vacated starting role at Marshall where he’ll have to run a different offense than he has previously.
However, offensive coordinator and QB coach Clint Trickett has shown to elevate his players, especially quarterbacks, as he had documented success after transferring to West Virginia during his playing days.
58) Holton Ahlers | East Carolina
Returning for his fifth season as East Carolina’s starting QB, Holton Ahlers is back to bring some more of his left-handed magic. With over 10,000 career passing yards, Ahlers is a terrific season away from potentially cracking into the illustrious 14,000-yard career throwing record that would vault him into the top 10 all-time. He’s shown he can reach that 3,000-yard plateau easily, having done so twice in his career, as Ahlers is also a dual-threat option for ECU.
Ahlers has the ability to drive throws from the pocket or deliver shots on the run with his legs just the same. His ability to work the left side of the field is magical while his only lacking skill is his ability to throw to his right. Still, he makes that work for him at times, testing those exclusive right-side cornerbacks early in games as they’re not as used to seeing left-handed quarterbacks as often.
57) Emory Jones | Arizona State
In need of a change of scenery of his own, Emory Jones has jettisoned the swamp for a desert. Jones transferred from Florida to Arizona State after he battled with Anthony Richardson last season and Billy Napier took over the head coaching role in Gainesville. He takes over for the now-transferred Jayden Daniels, as Jones himself has proven to be too much for defenses to handle at times.
While Jones is not a first-round lock by any stretch of the imagination, he’s certainly no slouch with his arm talent and dynamic rushing ability. Though he sometimes may lean into his athleticism a bit too much, when Jones is on, he throws a terrific ball with enough zip to push past defenders and understands layering his throws very well. Consistency, like so many other quarterbacks, will be key to his game and success in 2022. That’s one thing that may be difficult to obtain given his new surroundings.
56) Gavin Hardison | UTEP
Though he loses his top talent from the past few years in Jacob Cowing, Gavin Hardison returns to give UTEP a chance in Conference USA this season. Hardison is a pure pocket passer with a live arm and the ability to throw his receivers open. He works the sidelines like a magician and has shown to be able to work the middle of the field at every level.
Hardison is a gunslinger by nature, ripping throws into tight coverage windows with the flick of a wrist. Improving his decision-making will be key for his growth this season after he threw for over 3,000 yards a year ago. He’ll also have to navigate the fact that he’s void a top playmaker on the outside and will have to elevate his receiving corps in 2022.
55) Tyler Shough | Texas Tech
With untapped potential following a small sample size during the 2020 season at Oregon, Tyler Shough returns to Texas Tech after appearing in just four games a season ago. Shough has prototypical size and a cannon for an arm. He’s been inconsistent, however, in finding success both on a per-game and per-throw basis. Still, the flashes he has shown at times, including a four-touchdown performance against FIU in 2021, have been very bright.
He’ll stand and deliver from the pocket with enough power on his shots to get it past defenders or enough layering on his throws to beat even the most perfect coverage. The job is his in 2022 as he looks to put a stamp on a potential NFL draft campaign.
54) Braxton Burmeister | San Diego State
After two years at Oregon and two years at Virginia Tech, Braxton Burmeister is back on the west coast at San Diego State. He’ll take over for Lucas Johnson as Burmeister brings a documented dual-threat ability and downfield passing attack that the Aztecs may have lacked last year. Burmeister isn’t the most physically imposing quarterback, but he makes it work by standing tall in the pocket until it collapses and delivering accurately-placed shots all over the field.
He makes snap decisions and the right read more often than he does not, taking care of the football very well. Burmeister also uses his legs to set up throwing lanes out of structure while maintaining vision downfield at all times. He doesn’t force throws – maybe throwing them away too often – as his safe nature allows him to live to play another down, something he learned the hard way during his freshman season at Oregon.
53) Jordan Travis | Florida State
A dynamic athlete in his own right, Jordan Travis certainly showcased what FSU fans were wanting him to showcase last year: growth. Travis grew as a passer before our eyes, throwing for over 200 yards in each of his last three games of the season. He limited mistakes after returning to the starting lineup in Week 5 against Syracuse, throwing just two interceptions over his final seven starts.
He also began to grow not just with his rushing ability, but his decisions of when to rush. All too often, Travis would use his legs as a crutch and take off before receivers could separate. He vacated the pocket far too quickly and never let the passing concepts take form. In that final three-game stretch, Travis looked calm and connected to the offensive line, picking his shots perfectly and even rushing for over 100 yards against Florida to give the ’Noles a chance to win.
If Travis continues this level of growth he showed over that stretch of last season, this year in Tallahassee could finally be the year Mike Norvell and company break through.
52) Tanner Morgan | Minnesota
One of the more underrated aspects of the 2022 college football season is Tanner Morgan reuniting with offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. In Morgan’s finest season as a college passer, he threw for well over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2019. This, of course, was under Ciarrocca as his OC before he left for Penn State and West Virginia in back-to-back seasons. With Ciarrocca back, we can expect more of the same that made Morgan a dominant collegiate QB back in 2019.
Morgan has ridiculous arm talent and a snap to his passes that few can mimic. He also possesses an accurate arm to every level of the field and thrives when he’s clean from pressure, something this Minnesota offensive line should do more often than not in 2022. Combine the fact that his top running back is returning to take some of the pressure off him in the backfield and his stable of receivers is loaded once again, Morgan has the chance to rise on these top quarterback rankings as high as into the top 10 where he once was.
51) N’Kosi Perry | Florida Atlantic
In his first season at FAU, N’Kosi Perry showcased what made him a true freshman starter at Miami once upon a time. Perry displayed accuracy and strength on his throws, routinely throwing his receivers open over the middle of the field with touch and precision. He has great arm talent and began to start making the proper reads as the season progressed.
Perry, with his dual-threat ability to boot, showed that he was capable of leading his team to victory early on, but the roster did him no favors as the season went along. A bowl game is in sight for FAU if the rest of this roster stays healthy and Perry continues to show the growth he flashed in 2021.
The top 50 college quarterback rankings heading into the 2022 season
50) Payton Thorne | Michigan State
Throwing for over 3,000 yards a season ago, Payton Thorne took Michigan State to new heights under coach Mel Tucker. The Spartans finished with an 11-2 record and scored 30+ points in nine games. Yet, the offense was hardly talked about. Thorne didn’t quite wow with his passing ability on the national stage, but he certainly was impressive in his first full-time season as the starter in East Lansing.</div)
He was relatively dependent upon the rushing game striking fear into opponents and thrived off their play-action passing attack. With that in mind, Thorne can take that next step by excelling on throws over the middle of the field on standard passes to showcase his ability to lead the team from the quarterback spot. If 2021 showed us anything, Thorne has the ability to play lights out when he’s on his game.
49) Taulia Tagovailoa | Maryland
At times dominant, Taulia Tagovailoa proved to play outside of even lofty expectations for Maryland last year. He averaged double-digit yards per attempt in four different games a season ago, tossing multiple touchdowns in nine outings. However, he also came back down to Earth against confusing defensive schemes based on zone coverages.
Tagovailoa threw five interceptions against Iowa and struggled to move the ball well against Minnesota, each of which ran zone-heavy schemes. Picking up his game against both zone and man coverage schemes will be integral for his growth, as he has all the remaining intangibles of an elite Big Ten quarterback already in his arsenal.
48) Jarret Doege | Western Kentucky
Zach Kittley and Bailey Zappe may be gone from the Hilltoppers, but the Western Kentucky offense is likely not going anywhere in 2022. With the insertion of Jarret Doege and the elevation of former Kittley staffer Ben Arbuckle to co-offensive coordinator, the same Air Raid principles are expected to carry over.
Doege — a well-traveled QB — enters the fray after throwing for over 10,000 career passing yards with stops at West Virginia and Bowling Green. He’s shown to sling the ball to every area of the field and against a bevy of coverage schemes while elevating not just his teammates but himself above the offensive scheme (at least at West Virginia).
How quickly Doege will pick up the playbook at WKU is likely the only question, as he possesses all the other requisite skills of a top-notch collegiate quarterback. Doege makes the right reads and is no stranger to snapping footballs into tight areas, something he can lean into during his final college season. A final college season that could also see him break that career 14,000-yard mark with ease.
47) Haaziq Daniels | Air Force
Running the Air Force offense perfectly, Haaziq Daniels proved to be a revelation for the Falcons in 2021. He totaled 736 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season, making the correct read in their Air Force option attack on most occasions.
His ability to read his keys freed Brad Roberts for a career year as they both averaged well over 4.5 yards per carry. With Daniels leading the charge, Air Force as a team ran for their highest rushing total since 2015. Even more, Daniels proved to be a capable passer when called upon, tossing seven touchdowns and 1,171 yards, showing he can set his feet and go through his progressions with ease after an option fake. Daniels is the top option and service academy QB by some margin for the 2022 season.
46) Stetson Bennett | Georgia
It’s hard to knock Stetson Bennett for much after he led the Georgia Bulldogs to the national championship a season ago. Though carried by their defense, Bennett surely did enough to keep the Bulldogs in a place to win every game with a dominant, game-managing schedule.
Though likely mislabeled with the term “game manager,” Bennett was certainly more than that at times. He displayed an ability to find his receivers streaking open down the sidelines and often worked each level of the field with success. At times, Bennett did show an issue at pushing the ball downfield, but Georgia rarely trailed, so he rarely had to.
If there was one other knock on his game, it’s that Bennett didn’t elevate the offense much as a passer and was relatively reliant upon the success of the defense and valiant rushing attack as well as his terrific offensive line. Nevertheless, Bennett led Georgia to the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff all the same.
45) Chance Nolan | Oregon State
Elevating his game to new heights, there were times Chance Nolan was lights out a season ago. Nolan took advantage of overwhelmed defenses due to his ability to make correct reads and snap throws into his receivers with the slightest bit of separation. He was cautious with the football but not overly cautious.
Nolan stood tall and maneuvers the pocket very well while presenting a challenge when scrambling, as he’s an underrated athlete at 6’3” and over 200 pounds. He has a great arm with a smooth delivery and no wasted motion. Nolan is one of the better quarterbacks the nation hasn’t yet woken up to.
44) Grant Wells | Virginia Tech
Don’t be confused by the number of interceptions over his career, Grant Wells is a dominant downfield thrower of the football and an accurate one at that. He’s an anticipatory thrower with great velocity on his throws to every level. Wells is accurate with the football and was unfortunately subject to receiver troubles a year ago.
Now in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech signal-caller gives new head coach Brent Pry a true gunslinger to run the offense through as Wells is one of the top transfer portal athletes of this offseason. Wells has a big arm and thrives in any situation. Perhaps the best attribute outside of his middle-of-the-field passes is his ability to move on from any mistake and instill confidence in himself and his teammates no matter the situation on the field.
43) Davis Brin | Tulsa
One of the tougher quarterbacks in college football, Davis Brin returns at Tulsa to lead the Golden Hurricane a season after throwing for over 3,000 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first year as the full-time starter. Brin has a live arm with plenty of power behind his passes. He’s mechanically smooth and has a sharp delivery from the pocket. When he has to escape the pocket, Brin is more than capable of delivering throws on the run.
He’ll stand tall and rally the troops around him as he did back in 2020 when he catapulted Tulsa to a come-from-behind victory against Tulane after replacing Seth Boomer in the second half. Brin gives the Golden Hurricane a chance to win whenever he’s behind center.
42) Adrian Martinez | Kansas State
Sometimes a change of scenery will do wonders for a player’s career. I’m taking the high road that that change of scenery for Adrian Martinez will vault him back into the upper echelon of starting quarterbacks in college.
Martinez set the Nebraska record for total offense at 10,792 total yards during his four seasons in Lincoln. While the wins didn’t quite follow, Martinez proved his athleticism and ability more often than he didn’t. The team around him, however, suffered from a variety of issues over the past four years.
A valued runner, Martinez has rushed for over 2,000 yards in his career and thrown for over 8,000 to boot. The Kansas State offense has been known to feature rushing quarterbacks, especially as Collin Klein — a former dual-threat QB for KSU himself — takes over as offensive coordinator. Martinez is in line to dominate with his mix of passing and rushing ability in what could be new but all too familiar territory.
41) Layne Hatcher | Texas State
Leaving Arkansas State behind him to head to Sun Belt rival Texas State, Layne Hatcher leaves one offense that formerly had Air Raid principles for an up-and-coming Air Raid offense in San Marcos. Hatcher takes over for the two-quarterback conundrum over the past few seasons at Texas State as perhaps the best QB Jake Spavital has had during his four-year tenure to date.
Delivering accurate shots to each level of the field, the former Red Wolves quarterback has a poise about him in the pocket. Hatcher’s place on our top quarterback rankings is taking his whole career’s worth of work into account here. He’s battled through multiple QB battles in his career and has still thrown for over 2,000 yards in each season.
Hatcher has 65 career TD passes and has shown to limit mistakes when he’s in the right situation and not forced to take the game into his own hands. With Spavital calling the shots for the third straight season, he’ll be able to count on Hatcher to run the offense due to his experience and maturity. This is a recipe for success for Texas State.
40) Daniel Richardson | Central Michigan
Remarkably efficient once he took over as Central Michigan’s starting QB, Daniel Richardson finished with a 7-2 record as the starter in 2021. He was incredibly efficient with his arm and ability to find his receivers open at pivotal moments in the games. Even in games Richardson didn’t start, he made an impact, most notably against FIU when he entered the game and brought the Chips back for a victory.
Richardson totaled 24 touchdowns against just six interceptions but was known for making the right decision to keep his offense on schedule more often than not. His big-time moments and noteworthy football throws brought to life some game-changing moments for CMU in 2021. With his pedigree as Miami Dade County’s all-time leading passer, the sky may be the limit in MAC conference play for Richardson.
39) Chase Brice | Appalachian State
App State’s single-season record holder for passing yards returns to Boone for one more season in college. Chase Brice broke the record by throwing for 3,337 yards and tied for the conference lead with 27 TD passes in 2021.
Brice’s journey to App State is an interesting one, leaving Clemson after three years with his degree and playing spot duty over his final two seasons before transferring to Duke for one season to lead the Blue Devils. After the Duke experience didn’t work out, Brice stayed in the state of North Carolina, joining App State and earning Newcomer of the Year in the Sun Belt.
Brice has great size and solid arm talent. He’ll stand tall and use his field vision very well, looking off defenders enough to find mismatches in coverage. He’ll work the sidelines well and also has no trouble spotting receivers open over the middle of the field.
38) Brett Gabbert | Miami (OH)
A season ago, Brett Gabbert sometimes had to run for his life. Yet, the younger brother of former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert still found success and has made a name for himself during his time at Miami.
Not counting the COVID year, Gabbert has thrown for over 5,000 yards and 36 touchdowns in his two full seasons. He finished last year with 26 touchdowns through the air despite just 10 starts. He flashed a high-level ability to deal accurate passes when he was kept free from pressure as the season went on, and the offensive line meshed in front of him.
Gabbert doesn’t wow with his stature in the pocket, but he more than makes up for it with his arm talent to find the deep portion of the field. He’ll drop noteworthy throws across the field and has great anticipation. Gabbert gives the RedHawks a chance to win games and compete in the MAC as long as he’s healthy and kept upright in the pocket.
37) Aidan O’Connell | Purdue
With a powerful arm and terrific mechanics, Aidan O’Connell is a candidate to throw for 4,000 yards in 2022. After hitting 3,708 yards a season ago, O’Connell returns to Purdue and its wide-open offense with another year of confidence and knowledge in the playbook. Dominating downfield is not out of the question yet again for O’Connell, as he demonstrated an ability to find his receivers deep with ease last season.
His accuracy takes no prisoners no matter the depth of field he throws to, and he’s equally as decisive as he is on any short-area throw. Like many quarterbacks, O’Connell gets shaken by pressure at times, and his lack of pocket mobility hindered his game last season. Maneuvering the pocket better in 2022 will only improve his game and Purdue’s chances.
36) Seth Henigan | Memphis
After an illustrious high school career at Texas power Denton, Seth Henigan became the first true freshman to start a season opener in Memphis history. Henigan started 11 games last year, generating 3,322 yards and 25 touchdowns. He finished in the top 20 among quarterbacks in a bevy of statistical categories, but the thing that stood out with Henigan was his poise against collapsing pockets.
Henigan stood tall in the face of adversity and pressure, delivering eight games with multiple touchdown passes. He broke the former Memphis record for passing yards by a freshman by over 1,000 yards (formerly owned by first-round pick Paxton Lynch). With yet another year in the system, the big-armed, big-framed quarterback will be a favorite to set more records and bring in more victories for the Tigers.
35) Cameron Ward | Washington State
After earning the Jerry Rice Award in the spring of 2021, Cameron Ward set record after record at Incarnate Word during his two seasons. Ward threw for 2,260 yards and 24 touchdowns in the 2020 season, played in the spring of 2021, and then threw for another 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns during last fall. In total, for what amounted to 19 games worth of work, Ward threw for a whopping 6,908 yards and 71 touchdowns.
That per-game average of 363.6 yards and nearly four passing touchdowns are ridiculous — even for the level of football he was playing. His release is compact and unique, almost like a sidearm pitcher from where he winds up and releases the ball. Still, it works for Ward and his game overall, as he truly can hit his receivers open anywhere on the field.
Ward’s place on our top quarterback rankings is projecting him to quickly adapt to the uptick in competition while at Washington State. He slides into a favorable situation despite the recent turnover the Cougars suffered last year, as Ward can rely on his athletic ability to elevate the team around him.
34) JT Daniels | West Virginia
There are few times in college football — if any — that a transfer-portal athlete gets to meet up with his former offensive coordinator and original recruiter at a different school four years later. That’s exactly what JT Daniels and Graham Harrell are doing in Morgantown as Daniels left Georgia after two seasons when Harrell was announced as the team’s offensive coordinator this offseason.
It was Harrell who helped Daniels orchestrate that terrific 2018 season that vaulted him to the top of the NFL draft discussion board for when he was eligible. And for WVU fans, it will be Harrell who helps vault Daniels back into that discussion following the 2022 season.
Daniels has excellent arm talent and no wasted motion in his throws. He’s a special pocket passer who shows no fear with his arm and works the middle of the field incredibly well when he’s on his game. Given the weapons he has at West Virginia and the commonality he’ll have with the playbook, there is no doubt Daniels can see similar success as he’s seen before.
33) Dequan Finn | Toledo
Owner of one of the better touchdown-to-interception ratios from last season, Dequan Finn made a name for himself by throwing 18 TDs against just two INTs in 2021. Finn was remarkably careful with the ball yet still averaged a healthy 8.2 yards per attempt. As his experience grows within the program, so does his confidence.
The sky continues to be the limit for Michigan’s 2018 Mr. Football. Finn has terrific arm talent and actually sees more success when he steps up in the pocket to deliver downfield. He’ll slow defenses with his eyes and buy time with his mobility before unleashing driven shots to his receivers along the boundary.
If he does take off on scrambles or even designed carries, he’s a dynamic athlete and rushed for nine touchdowns on the ground. As stated, his confidence should continue to grow as he builds on a terrific season a year ago. In doing so, Toledo will blossom with him.
32) Tanner McKee | Stanford
As alluring of an NFL draft prospect as he may be, Tanner McKee has a lot to work on as he enters his second season as the starter at Stanford. With prototypical size at 6’6” and 226 pounds, McKee delivers strong throws from inside the structure of the offense.
The pro-style scheme will have NFL teams clamoring for him if he continues that upward trajectory he’s shown since taking over last season. But to be elevated in our top QB rankings, he’ll have to show that quickly in 2022.
McKee was a bit erratic with his decision-making and suffered some accuracy issues when he forced the ball downfield. Again, there is a lot to like about McKee, most notably the fact that you can’t coach size, but he’ll still need to work on consistently finding his receivers at every level in 2022.
31) Logan Bonner | Utah State
For the first time in his career, Logan Bonner was the clear-cut starter for Blake Anderson and Co. It just took a move across the country to Logan, Utah, for him to do so. Bonner started all 14 games for Utah State in 2021, throwing for 3,628 yards and 36 touchdowns en route to a Mountain West Championship.
After splitting time with Layne Hatcher at Arkansas State, Bonner decided to leave Jonesboro and travel to Utah State with his head coach, proving too much for MWC defenses to keep up with. He threw multiple touchdowns in all but three games last season, connecting on at least four TDs in six games, including a stretch of three straight to seal the Mountain West East Division crown.
Bonner has a big arm for his size and uses it incredibly well in the system under Anderson. He’ll work the field from left to right and dish out accurate passes to receivers with pace and timing. With one season left, 10,000 career passing yards isn’t out of the question for Bonner.
30) Dorian Thompson-Robinson | UCLA
A dominant dual-threat, things seemed to start clicking for Dorian Thompson-Robinson in 2021. He had a career-high 8.5 yards per attempt and connected on 21 TD passes. DTR threw for 2,409 yards while rushing for another 609 yards and nine more touchdowns on the ground. Returning to the backfield for one more season under Chip Kelly and with Zach Charbonnet next to him, this two-headed rushing attack may prove to be too much for Pac-12 defenses.
Given DTR’s ability to find mismatches in coverage and keep safeties at bay to hit his receivers over the middle, UCLA could leap that proverbial hump the program has been stuck on over the past few years. It all comes down to Thompson-Robinson in 2022, but the growth he showed in 2021 gives hope for brighter days as the program gets set to join the Big Ten in a few short years.
29) Michael Pratt | Tulane
You won’t find a better QB on a 2-10 team than Michael Pratt. Given the circumstances of an overwhelmed Tulane team last season, Pratt did all he could to silence doubters and make believers out of fans and media alike. A true gritty performer, Pratt nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the season when Tulane fought tooth and nail with Oklahoma to start the year.
In total, Pratt threw for 2,381 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, but his all-around ability to keep plays alive in and out of the structure and perform off-script made fans out of anyone who watched him. Pratt has a great arm and sound mechanics, pulling the trigger on some immaculate passes over the middle of the field and to the boundary all the same. With some talented players returning on each side of the ball down at Tulane, they couldn’t have found a better leader for the 2022 season than Pratt.
28) Kedon Slovis | Pittsburgh
Kedon Slovis has been incredibly consistent since he took over for JT Daniels at USC. With a lifetime average of just under 8.0 yards per pass attempt, Slovis excelled in Graham Harrell’s Air Raid offense at USC. He chipped away at defenses before taking the top off at times, playing much better when he had the freedom to do so. Now in new territory, Slovis will have Frank Cignetti Jr. and his pro-style offense to learn at Pittsburgh.
Given Cignetti’s work with quarterbacks over the years, Slovis is in terrific hands. He’ll be able to capitalize on his ability to wheel and deal from the pocket, utilizing a heavy play-action passing attack to aid him as he adjusts to the new offense. Slovis can move the pocket, and within it, find open passing lanes with ease and dish out strong, powerful, and yet still accurate throws with the flick of a wrist. His throwing motion is quick and effortless, and he should find success frequently in the early stages with the Pittsburgh defense ready to dominate yet again in 2022.
27) Spencer Sanders | Oklahoma State
There certainly is a lot to like about Spencer Sanders and his ability within the Oklahoma State offense. Sanders is a true dynamic dual-threat with an emphasis on threat. He can take it the distance on the ground, but he doesn’t rely on that ability more so than he does his incredible arm. When he’s on his game, Sanders dishes accurate strikes with pace and can handle a variety of coverage schemes.
The only thing that has marred his college career is his questionable decision-making at times, most notably throwing late to the sidelines on occasion. But he’s begun to get that in check as his career has gone on. Sanders is a challenging quarterback to stop and an imposing player with the ball in his hands. Consistency on his throws and another year of making sound decisions will put him in the record books and in good graces in Stillwater at the same time.
26) Chris Reynolds | Charlotte
Lacking in national notoriety, it’s time to put some respect on Chris Reynolds’ name. One of the top Group of Five passers over the past four seasons, Reynolds has firmly encroached on being listed as one of college football’s top passers. After throwing 26 touchdowns and 2,684 yards last season, Reynolds is well within reach of 10,000 career passing yards and keeps Charlotte in places to win games more often than not.
The defense hasn’t done him any favors over the years, especially last season, as they allowed 33 or more points in seven of their nine conference games. Yet, Reynolds was undeterred. He handles himself brilliantly game in and game out. He will find his receivers all over the field, picking and choosing his shots incredibly well to the deep portion of the field.
He’s also a dominant ball carrier when the play calls for it as evidenced by his 11 career rushing touchdowns and well over 1,000 career rushing yards. Don’t leave Reynolds alone or with time in the pocket because he’ll carve you up.
The top 25 college quarterback rankings heading into the 2022 season
25) Connor Bazelak | Indiana
One of the most underrated transfer players this offseason, Connor Bazelak takes his talent to Indiana to star on Tom Allen’s team under Walt Bell’s tutelage at offensive coordinator. Bazelak was voted as the co-Freshman of the Year back in 2020 at Missouri and finished his career with the Tigers throwing for 5,058 passing yards in just two seasons as the starting quarterback. With a quick delivery and ample arm strength, Bazelak can find receivers swiftly no matter his surroundings.
He excels over the middle of the field where he uses his anticipation and terrific vision but is no slouch if he has to work the sidelines. Bazelak, a former wishbone offense quarterback in high school, has shown linear growth during his collegiate career, something that is rarer than some think. And something that is equally as promising for the Hoosiers this season.
24) Will Rogers | Mississippi State
Sure, there are a lot of short passes in the Mississippi State offensive scheme. But there are also a lot of intermediate passes and a lot asked of the quarterback despite being a QB-friendly system.
Will Rogers answers those questions and exceeded expectations a season ago. He set the MSU record for consecutive games with 30+ completions while completing a ridiculous 73.9% of his passes last year. He finished the year completing 505 of 683 attempts for 4,739 yards and 36 touchdowns.
At times, Rogers was ridiculously efficient and completely dominant. When he was tasked with finding receivers open downfield, he completed those passes for big gains. If he was tasked with lulling defenses to sleep with perimeter shorts, he did that extremely well all the same.
Rogers threw for 300+ yards in 11 games last season and for 400+ in three outings. He’s got that ability to take games over and elevate his receiving corps like few true Air Raid quarterbacks have been able to in recent memory. Given he’s got yet another year in the system and his confidence is at an all-time high, the Bulldogs have to be primed to make some serious noise in the SEC this season.
23) Frank Harris | UTSA
Agent Zero is back at UTSA as Frank Harris returns to San Antonio after leading the program to new heights in 2021. Harris, a surprisingly big-armed QB, is known for his leadership within the program but never once has his ability to play quarterback been in question either.
The big-armed left-hander delivers accurate shots to all levels and excels when the game plan calls for him to let it fly. Harris can also run right by you or make you miss in the open field with the ball in his hands. Thus, defenses need to regularly keep a linebacker spying him on all passing plays. That creates mismatches in coverage that Harris is able to find with ease and deliver those passes with perfect accuracy, whether it’s driven through coverage or layered over the arms of defenders.
The UTSA single-season record holder for just about every major category is back to put a final stamp on what he’s helped to build as the Roadrunners are a nationally known commodity at this point.
22) Anthony Richardson | Florida
For all the projections on our top quarterback rankings, this is the biggest of them all. Anthony Richardson has all of 66 pass attempts in his collegiate career. Sure, he’s also rushed for 462 yards over the past two seasons, but the fact of the matter remains that we haven’t seen him for the course of a 12-game season. We also haven’t yet seen him handle the rock as the clear-cut starter at Florida.
But, what we have seen so far, has been brilliant. I was skeptical of ranking a player like Joe Burrow high in the 2019 preseason but certainly felt vindicated after it was all said and done there. Richardson is in no way Burrow, but he could certainly have the same kind of impact that Burrow did on his team, the SEC, and the national landscape.
Richardson is the owner of the best throw from the 2021 season, when he broke contain in the pocket, sprinting out to his left side, and uncorking a cross-body throw falling away from the crashing defender to his receiver 40 yards down the field into decent coverage but perfectly away from the defensive back for a massive gain. What made that play so special is that it showed off two incredibly important things: Richardson possesses the elite ability to maintain vision downfield despite the noise around him, and he can deliver the infamous “Zach Wilson Throw” that comes in very few quarterback’s game film and is usually reserved for workouts.
Richardson impressively made that throw by fixing his feet and positioning himself to do so as a passer, not as a runner. When he does run, Richardson is typically bigger than anyone on the field yet maintains the speed to be the fastest player on the field. He’s a rare blend of amazing athlete and incredible QB. If we see this player for 12 games, he’s not just rising in these rankings, he’s bringing hardware back to Gainesville.
21) Tanner Mordecai | SMU
There’s an undefinable quality that Tanner Mordecai has. Somehow he wills his team to victory and elevates players around him. Mordecai kept SMU in every game last season, save for the Cincinnati game, as he impressed week in and week out. Mordecai conjures up thoughts of another former Oklahoma QB in Baker Mayfield. Except unlike Mayfield, Mordecai transferred away from the Sooners program before he blossomed into the truly exceptional passer he is now.
Mordecai threw for 3,628 yards and 39 touchdowns a year ago while chipping away with 202 yards and two scores on the ground. His scrambling ability has that certain Mayfield quality to it where you know he’s constantly maintaining vision downfield, but if he does take off, it’s because he knows he’s going to make it count.
Mordecai has a great arm but a better delivery from the pocket. He can dot the field with accurate shots laid around coverage windows or defeat dropping defenders with his power. Mordecai has great vision, not just on the short and intermediate passes, but at every level. And he’s only getting better. Which is scary for the AAC in 2022.
20) Phil Jurkovec | Boston College
You don’t break records set formerly by future Hall of Famer Matt Ryan and not get critical acclaim for it. Phil Jurkovec has set new Boston College records for passing yards in a single season and within the speed he’s reached those passing yard totals. By the end of his BC career, Jurkovec could own the majority of the passing records in Chestnut Hill, and he’s only just begun after spending two seasons previously at Notre Dame.
Jurkovec has a cannon for an arm, and he certainly knows how to use it properly. There’s one thing to have a powerful arm, but it’s a completely different aspect to be able to understand when to unleash a howitzer and when to drop it to a dull roar when you layer it over coverage defenders. Jurkovec has that ability while also possessing that elite skill of being able to maneuver the pocket around him to find the optimal throwing lane. He’s a few yards short of 4,000 yards in just his first 15 career games as the starter. He’ll only get there faster with a clean bill of health in 2022.
19) Sam Hartman | Wake Forest
After defeating former Wake Forest and Georgia QB Jamie Newman for the right to start for Wake Forest, Sam Hartman has done nothing but impress everyone since. Hartman has set the new Wake Forest record for career passing touchdowns at 72 and is second in program history with 9,266 passing yards.
Showcasing terrific growth since becoming the first Wake Forest true freshman to win a season opener back in 2018, Hartman has begun to see the field among the best in the country. There were times in his days of battling for reps that he would force throws and miss underneath coverage defenders. Those times are now gone. Hartman is among the best at throwing to any portion of the field and has more than enough arm talent to reach horizontal or vertical. He’ll keep the Demon Deacons in just about every contest when he brings his A-game.
18) Hank Bachmeier | Boise State
One of the top quarterbacks over the past few seasons returns to Boise State after showcasing perhaps the nation’s best gritty performance of the 2021 season. Make no mistake about it, there were other QBs with better statistical outputs, even some that won more games than Hank Bachmeier. But it could be argued that no other Mountain West QB meant more to his team than Bachmeier did last year. You could even further that to the Group of Five as a whole.
Bachmeier stood tall in the face of pressure and delivered. He didn’t just deliver accurate and well-timed passes, he delivered big-play moments and game-changing momentum swings as he gutted out gritty performance after gritty performance. It wasn’t all pretty last year for the Broncos, and yet, Bachmeier finished with 3,080 passing yards and 20 touchdowns.
He’s as tough as they come and willed his team to their 7-5 record despite holes all across the roster. He’s a true leader of a team and belongs on the mantle of top Group of Five quarterbacks this season as he enters what could be a make-or-break year for his NFL draft candidacy.
17) KJ Jefferson | Arkansas
Transforming into one of the top dual-threat options in the country, KJ Jefferson dominated the competition last season. He was nearly single-handedly the reason for Arkansas’ dramatic turnaround in 2021, finishing with a 9-4 record at the helm of the Razorbacks.
Jefferson led the team with 664 rushing yards and finished the year with 2,676 passing yards to go with 21 touchdowns through the air. He was cautious with his throws but not overly cautious, as he found his receivers plenty downfield — most notably, Treylon Burks — in stride nearly every time.
It’s a heavy play-action attack for the Razorbacks, giving the QB the benefit of a play-action fake to buy time on underneath throws, but Jefferson was more than capable on standard dropbacks all the same. He’s got a terrific arm and even better legs to buy time or scramble for first downs at will. Becoming too reliant upon his legs would be the only criticism at this rate for Jefferson, but that’s just nitpicky, as he’ll dot every award watch list this preseason.
16) Brennan Armstrong | Virginia
A dominant left-handed gunslinger, Brennan Armstrong is back at Virginia after throwing for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns a season ago. Armstrong threw for at least two TDs in all but two games last year while he had four games with at least four passing touchdowns. It wasn’t all glitz and glam for Armstrong, however.
Sometimes he left big plays on the table, and the Cavs still finished with just a 6-6 record. Armstrong works the middle of the field brilliantly, and his sideline throws could only get better, as he has a ton of big-play threats returning on the outside. What separates Armstrong from other 4,000-yard throwers is his rushing ability.
At times looking like Shane Falco bouncing off defenders, Armstrong will rarely go down. And even more rarely, he’ll slide to give himself up as Armstrong’s always doing what he can for every yard. He totaled 251 rushing yards last season but had nine scores on the ground, attempting to pick and choose his shots near the goal line to maximize efficiency.
Armstrong’s back for another go, and 10,000 career passing yards isn’t out of the question if he can return to last season’s form.
15) Dillon Gabriel | Oklahoma
There isn’t a better quarterback in college football when it comes to hitting receivers deep downfield and at the sidelines than Dillon Gabriel. A dominant passer all over the field, Gabriel’s bread and butter while at UCF was his ability to find receivers along the sidelines and deep downfield for big gains and game-changing moments. He had back-to-back seasons of dominance on display with the Knights, throwing for over 3,500 yards in each of the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Moreover, Gabriel’s launched 70 career touchdowns in those two full seasons plus spotty time in the lineup in 2021. Gabriel has a big arm from the pocket with tremendous vision despite his size at 6’0”.
There isn’t much left Gabriel has to prove now that he’s in Norman, except for the fact that he can continue to find his receivers against a variety of coverages and a step up in competition with the Sooners. If he does that like he’s shown to do in the past, Gabriel certifies his spot here and cements his NFL draft profile.
14) Hendon Hooker | Tennessee
There may not have been a better QB in the first quarter of games over the past decade than Hendon Hooker was last season. Running scripted offensive plays is always going to be a benefit for an offense, but Hooker exceeded even the loftiest of expectations, most notably in the first quarter.
In turn, Hooker threw for 2,945 yards and 31 touchdowns, limiting the interceptions to just three on the year. What should make SEC defenses scared in 2022 is the fact that Hooker got better as the season went on. There were few quarterbacks playing as hot as he was to close out the season, throwing for 17 touchdowns over his final six games.
Hooker has a rocket for an arm and may even rival for the best deep ball in college football. He’s also no stranger to tucking it and running with great success. He’ll make defenders miss in open space and nearly guarantee a first down with his scrambles. Hooker is as dynamic as they come and has the Volunteers expecting big things this fall.
13) Spencer Rattler | South Carolina
Color me a Spencer Rattler truther, but the belief that he can live up to that 2020 hype is still there. In fact, Rattler’s 2020 tape still ranks above the majority of college football starting quarterbacks on these rankings.
Whether the off-field and behind-closed-doors situation that was happening at Norman affected his game or not is not up for debate here. It was clear he wasn’t the same QB on the field a season ago. Still, in flashes during the 2021 campaign, Rattler proved what we learned of him in 2020: He has an NFL arm and possesses elite accuracy.
At times in 2021, Rattler looked for the big play when several others were open or could have been with his ability to throw his receivers open. He looked for the big play or the “yolo ball” all too often and paid the price.
Harnessing his decision-making and honing his craft in 2022 with Shane Beamer and South Carolina has the chance to turn the clock and paint him with the same light we saw him in during the offseason last year. Rattler has the biggest chance to challenge for the throne of QB2 in the 2023 NFL Draft than anyone else in the class. And that’s not expecting as much as one may think out of Rattler.
12) Will Levis | Kentucky
Save the discussion about his food habits for later, Will Levis is a terrific quarterback. Don’t believe it, just flip the tape on. A flip was switched at some point during the 2021 season for him, perhaps against LSU when he didn’t need to do much but dominated the Tigers in the process.
Levis was a master processor down the stretch of the season, navigating the pocket and his reads with terrific success. He has a big arm and the ability to find his receivers accurately no matter their location on the field. Levis is also a terrific runner with the football in the sense that he’s a hard-nosed rusher who won’t go down on first contact or could leap over you in the same play. The sky’s the limit for Levis at this point after showing terrific growth as the season went on last year, and he’ll return to Lexington riding a four-game winning streak.
11) Tyler Van Dyke | Miami (FL)
There’s certainly a ton to like about Tyler Van Dyke at Miami. The big-armed quarterback has the ability to put the Hurricanes on his back and dominate with his arm talent. He can rip throws to the boundary and flexed his muscle over the middle of the field on multiple occasions in 2021 after being inserted as the starter following a dominant performance against Central Connecticut State.
While Van Dyke has his strengths, his play during the first 15 plays, typically known as the scripted offense, was eye-opening. The Rhett Lashlee offense did him no favors when they had to go off-script as Van Dyke was much better when he could use his arm strength and vision across the field to find his receivers at every level. If all goes to plan, when it’s all said and done and with Josh Gattis as his play-caller for 2022, Van Dyke could break some serious Miami records for passing.
The top 10 college quarterback rankings heading into the 2022 season
10) Caleb Williams | USC
It took all of four games for Caleb Williams to unseat a preseason Heisman frontrunner and highly thought-of draft prospect at Oklahoma. Rattler’s struggles are documented, but Williams had to be an underrated aspect of why Rattler felt the need to press the ball as much as he did in 2021. With Williams pushing him, Rattler struggled, and Williams took over in Norman following an epic come-from-behind victory against Texas.
In just seven starts and spot duty prior, Williams threw for 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt and showed off what made him a top-10 recruit in the class of 2021. Williams ripped off big play after big play with both his arm and legs, finishing with 435 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground while he delivered countless impressive throws downfield.
Williams has a big arm, better athleticism, and continuity with the coaching staff despite transferring to USC. If he continues the growth we saw in 2021 come this season, Williams will climb these rankings and showcase what may make him a top-10 draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft at the same time.
9) Jake Haener | Fresno State
With an effortlessness about him, Jake Haener quietly threw for 4,096 yards and 33 touchdowns a season ago. Haener has a tremendous arm and incredible strength from an unassuming frame. He’ll deliver quick, accurate passes to receivers 45 yards downfield or pop passes across the middle of the field 10 yards downfield with the same accuracy. Haener is tough, both physically and mentally, shaking off mistakes with ease and continuing a high level of play no matter the situation.
Another aspect that separates Haener is his ability to go through his reads as he’s a master of progressions. Despite forcing some passes a season ago, Haener has clearly learned when and how much he can trust his arm with the best of them in the country. He gives the Bulldogs a chance to win every time he’s in the lineup. After flirting with the transfer portal, he’s back in Fresno to finalize his legacy and set his mark in the Fresno State record books as he can surpass 10,000 passing yards this season.
8) Cameron Rising | Utah
Bringing the Utah Utes to the promised land of a Pac-12 championship, Cameron Rising is every bit of a top quarterback at the national level. He showcased in 2021 that he can elevate his team and shoulder the load for a Utes team that dealt with terrible tragedy off the field. Rising, a true leader of the program, battled back to win the starting job in Week 4 and won nine of his next 10 starts that culminated in a conference championship.
He also proved that he could withstand what could only be described as poor offensive line play by Utah standards early on, dishing accurate throws on the run as he moved the pocket with his legs. His arm talent is terrific and seemed to get better as his confidence grew throughout the season. He spotted receivers open in the smallest of gaps, and his quick decision-making led to big gains more often than not.
Rising is also an underrated athlete with the ball in his hands but didn’t need to carry the ball too often as he could win games with his arm talent just fine. But if he did run the ball, as Ohio State learned in the Rose Bowl, he’s one tough dude and incredibly difficult to bring down. Rising belongs in the top 10 of quarterbacks returning to college football and is far and away the top returning (not transferring in) QB in the Pac-12.
7) Jaren Hall | BYU
At one point, it was said that Jaren Hall gave the BYU Cougars more commonality in terms of calling plays on offense than they had with Zach Wilson at the helm. In 2021, Hall proved that to be true as the offense looked very similar, and he continued the trend of big-time plays and highlight-reel moments from the quarterback position in Provo.
Hall was good to start the year, but after missing time in the middle of the season and dropping a two-game stretch against Boise State (in a downpour, albeit) and Baylor, Hall’s best play came on late as a switch was flipped in his game. Over the course of the final four contests of the 2021 season, Hall threw for 11 touchdowns and averaged 308.7 yards per game through the air.
He has a rocket for an arm and what separates him from most quarterbacks is his ability to make powerful throws from any platform. Hall can sprint right or dash left, and he’ll continue to find his footwork and throwing motion with ease, dropping accurate passes to any level of the field.
His pocket presence took an incredible step forward at the tail end of the season as well, proving he could navigate defenders to find open lanes and standing tall in the face of pressure. He’s a top college quarterback without question, and if he stays healthy through a whole season, playing the way he did to close out 2021, the Cougars have a chance to win every game on their schedule in 2022.
6) Grayson McCall | Coastal Carolina
One of the most accomplished passers that few are talking about is Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall. A year after leading the country with a ridiculous 11.9 yards per pass attempt, McCall’s accuracy is often overlooked. He finished second in overall completion percentage among qualified quarterbacks, completing 176 of 241 attempts (73%) and ripping off 27 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
McCall controls the Coastal offense like few quarterbacks could, running their unique, multiple offensive scheme game plan effectively. He handles himself brilliantly on the ground and is among the most dominant downfield passers in the game today. McCall has a talented arm, driving throws past perfect coverage no matter the target distance. From left to right, McCall will read the field with precision, finding his receivers and picking his shots correctly on seemingly every throw.
5) Malik Cunningham | Louisville
As the only quarterback to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing a season ago, the title for the nation’s top dual-threat belongs solely to Malik Cunningham. The Louisville QB is much more than just a runner, however.
Cunningham threw 2,941 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, completing 62% of his passes. He hit 1,034 rushing yards and ran for another 20 touchdowns. Those 20 rushing scores were good enough for fourth nationally, and he now ranks second in Louisville history for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, trailing only Lamar Jackson.
Those Jackson comparisons are sure to follow, but Cunningham is a distinguished passer, completing nine attempts of at least 75 yards in his career, the only Louisville quarterback ever to accomplish that feat.
He’s as dynamic as they come and began to make smarter decisions with the football during the 2021 season. With Cunningham’s threat to run or hit the home-run ball over the top, the Cardinals’ offense is one of the most feared units in college football in 2022.
4) Devin Leary | NC State
Quietly, Devin Leary made ACC history last year. In a conference that boasts the likes of Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, among many others, Leary became the first quarterback in conference history to throw for at least 35 touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions.
In fact, only four quarterbacks over the past decade have hit that mark nationally. Leary is a maestro with the football in his hands, limiting mistakes while still taking big shots, utilizing his arm strength and ability to hit every level of the field. He’s remarkably consistent as well and threw for four touchdowns in five different games a season ago.
Leary runs the NC State offense with ease, standing tall in the pocket with a unique calmness and poise on every down. He’s accurate, strong, and a natural leader. Leary deserves everything that he’ll surely be adorned with this preseason when the award watch lists pile up.
3) Clayton Tune | Houston
Well, if the 2021 season didn’t open your eyes to Clayton Tune, the Cougar is out of the bag now. Tune won the prestigious Manning Academy’s Air It Out Challenge this summer after dealing for 3,546 passing yards and 30 touchdowns last year. His arm strength, of course, has never been in question, but dealing among the prestigious list of 44 total QB “counselors” at the Manning Academy certainly will prove your worth on the grandest of stages.
The best part about Tune’s game is perhaps the fact that he’s gotten better with every season. If that trend continues, Tune is absolutely a lock to finish at No. 3 in these top quarterback rankings as his floor and flirting with No. 1 as his ceiling. There is no pass Tune cannot make and not one area of the field that is off-limits. He’ll stand tall in the pocket and use his large frame at 6’3”, 215 pounds to command the offense and deliver accurate passes.
He throws his receivers open and puts his passes in places where only his players can make the play. Whether against the sidelines, in the back of the end zone, or streaking over the middle of the field, Tune is on time and powerful with his throws and reads. He’s the quarterback you need to know about if you don’t already.
2) Bryce Young | Alabama
Destroying even the loftiest expectations, Bryce Young played well above his age in his first season as the full-time starter for Alabama. Among all his terrific qualities, Young was remarkably poised and centered despite some lackluster pass protection last season.
He stood tall against pressure, even unblocked defenders at times, and continues to deliver strike after strike to his receivers. Young was dominant to the deep portion of the field, throwing his receivers open whether it was 55 or 25 yards downfield. He was no slouch to every other area of the field, but his downfield throws in between the numbers rightfully drew a fair amount of praise.
Young won the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns, and he’ll enter the season as one of the favorites to return to New York and bring it home yet again. He’s every bit of an elite QB from every aspect, and there’s no doubt he’ll crush the narrative that playing well under pressure is an unsustainable type of success.
1) C.J. Stroud | Ohio State
Showcasing linear growth as the season progressed, C.J. Stroud dominated the competition to the tune of 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He was remarkably careful with the football, cruising to historic marks that set 17 different Ohio State records in 2021.
Stroud led the No. 1 offense in the country with no trouble, averaging a whopping 561.5 yards per game. He is the nation’s most feared passer in the middle of the field, layering shots easily between coverage defenders and driving ridiculously accurate passes against any coverage. Stroud is the best pure quarterback in the country and has prototypical size. Not only does he make Ohio State a favorite for the 2022 National Championship, but he’ll also eventually give his NFL franchise hope for a brighter tomorrow as he’ll likely be the first quarterback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Stroud can bring home more Ohio State records, a Heisman Trophy, Big Ten and National Championships, and a first overall NFL draft selection over the course of the next 10 months. Life is good if you’re C.J. Stroud.