It’s that time of year again, when college football is so close, writers such as myself have to make top five lists. This year the Mountain West Conference will be much more under-the-radar than in years past. Within the conference there are several quarterbacks that are worthy of your attention this upcoming season. The position is not the deepest in the conference after the departure of virtually all the top passers from 2011. However, there is talent to be showcased. Here are the top five signal callers in the Mountain West going into 2012:
1) Derek Carr – Jr. – Fresno State Here is the obligatory news flash: Derek is the younger brother of David Carr, who was not only a Bulldog great, but was the starting quarterback of the Houston Texans from 2002-2006. With that out of the way, the Mountain West has a special player in the younger brother. Derek has excellent arm strength, accuracy, and athletic ability. His 3,544 yards passing in 2011 puts him ahead of all the retuning conference QBs by almost 1,000 yards. Carr can also take care of the football throwing a mere nine interceptions to go along with 26 TD passes last season. Impressive when one considers Derek had 446 attempts.
2) Brett Smith – So. – Wyoming Cowboys head coach Dave Christensen found a gem in the recruit from Salem, Oregon. Smith had a spectacular freshman season running the pass-heavy Wyoming attack. The MWC Freshman of the Year in 2011, Smith averaged 256.3 yards of total offense. Tossing 20 touchdown passes along the way proved the youngster could put points on the board. There are expectations as big as the Wyoming sky for 2012.
3) Cody Fajardo – So. – Nevada Running the pistol attack, Fajardo was efficient completing 68.8% of his passes during his freshman year leading the WAC. New offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich will push Fajardo to throw the ball more out of the pocket. The sophomore needs to improve on his six touchdowns to six interceptions from last season. If the 2011 WAC Freshman of the Year is capable of improving, the Wolf Pack will be fun to watch.
4) B.R. Holbrook – Sr. – New Mexico There are few positives for a Lobos squad that has turned losing into an artform over the past several seasons. If a bright spot exists, it would be senior signal caller B.R. Holbrook. It is difficult to judge the quarterback because UNM is so lacking in talent. Holbrook had only four touchdowns to seven interceptions, but did manage a 112.4 rating last year. The QB gets almost his entire offensive line back and decent ability in the receiving corps. New head coach Bob Davie should help the fifth year vet improve in 2012.
5) Ryan Katz – Sr. – San Diego State A new face to the conference, Katz transfers from Oregon State to the Aztecs, in the hopes of continuing the success of his predecessor Ryan Lindley. The senior has experience playing in the Pac-12 conference, where in 2010 he completed 60% of his passes with a 127.3 rating. Katz is small by big-time college standards at 6’1″, but has a strong arm and the tools to find success closer to his hometown of Santa Monica.