The ACC may have been the best conference in the country last season when it came to the depth of talent at the quarterback position. There weren’t any Big 12 like numbers (where defense is strictly optional), but there were 3,000 yard passers a plenty in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC will see this again in 2012 as most of these players are returning, which brings up the question who is the best quarterback in the ACC?
This question immediately brings four names to mind: Logan Thomas, Mike Glennon, Tajh Boyd and E.J. Manuel. Three of those four players threw for over 3,000 yards in 2011 and it would have been four for four had E.J. Manuel not missed time because of injury.
Logan Thomas took the ACC by storm last season at the helm of Virginia Tech’s offense. He led the Hokies to an 11-3 record and a BCS at-large berth to the Sugar Bowl. Thomas threw for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns. He almost completed 60% of his passes and his overall passer rating was 89.6. Thomas’s passing numbers were spectacular, but when you add in his rushing numbers he quickly enters the discussion as one of the best quarterback’s in the country. He ran for 469 yards and 11 touchdowns. Thomas’s size allows him to run people over and simply brush linebackers aside once he gets into the second level. Thomas will get even better in 2012, his second season as the starter.
Mike Glennon had to deal with a difficult situation last year. He was replacing Russell Wilson (who transferred to Wisconsin). Wilson was a star in his own right, but Glennon stepped up to the challenge and led North Carolina State to a very good season. In 2011 Glennon passed for 3,054 yards and 31 touchdowns. Glennon may be the exact opposite of Thomas when it comes to the running game. He is credited with -122 rushing yards last season and one touchdown. The Wolf Pack’s quarterback is a pocket passer, and he is a very good one. Glennon is going to make N.C. State a dangerous team this year.
Tajh Boyd’s play early in 2011 overshadowed the entire ACC, particularly during a three-week stretch in which his Clemson Tigers beat Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Boyd put up monster numbers last year when he passed for 3,828 yards and 33 touchdowns (he added another five on the ground). He was by far the best quarterback in the ACC statistically last year, and Clemson’s success reflected that as the Tigers won the ACC Championship. Boyd’s play in 2012 will once again be good enough to keep the Tigers in contention for the ACC’s Atlantic Division and a berth into the ACC Championship game.
Florida State’s E.J. Manuel is the most experienced of these four quarterbacks. He is entering his senior year with the Seminoles. In his junior season he threw for 2,666 yards and 18 touchdowns but he missed FSU’s game against Clemson and didn’t play the entire game against Oklahoma (the week before) because of an injury. If he had played the whole season he would have eclipsed the 3,000 yard mark like the three quarterbacks already mentioned. He is a decent runner once he leaves the backfield; he scored four times on the ground last season. Manuel is the quarterback for the most talented team in the ACC and they are considered the favorites to win the ACC title this year.
It’s difficult to separate these four. Logan Thomas is by far the top dual threat quarterback in the league and he will be an even better passer in 2012. Glennon is the second best passer of this group (behind Boyd). Manuel is the most experienced of these four, but Tajh Boyd is the best quarterback in the ACC. He the most prolific passer the ACC has to offer, and he can run when he has to. All four of these quarterbacks are great, but Boyd has a little edge over the other three. One player at one position can’t win a title but having the best player at the most important position certainly helps and Clemson has that edge in 2012.