Top 25 College Quarterbacks of 2012
Top 25 College quarterbacks of 2012
2012 has been another exciting year in college football. Week after week we are reminded why so many of us love college football so much. And this year, even though there wasn’t an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III type of NFL draft prospect among the quarterbacks, there have still been some amazing seasons that deserves to be recognized.
The role of the quarterback in college football has changed so much over the years that often times it’s a little challenging to compare one to another. Some teams ask their quarterbacks to lead a team of average talent in a pro style, pass heavy offense and told to go out and win games. Other quarterbacks are on loaded offenses where they are simply asked not to mess things up. And other quarterbacks still are asked to go out and be the arms and the legs of their offense, making calls and taking tremendous punishment week after week.
This list are the 25 quarterbacks I have been the most impressed with this season. This isn’t about NFL potential, or what round I think a player will be drafted in. Sometimes even a big nerdy draftnik like me has to just sit back and enjoy a quarterback and his play on it’s merit alone and these players have all impressed me a great deal this year.
Some of the quarterbacks on this list will be household names, and some may be names you’ve rarely heard of. I also excluded any none BCS college schools for this list, but make no mistake, there are some amazing talent at the lower college levels at quarterback and at a later date I may have to recognize them as well.
So here is my top 25 college quarterbacks for 2012. Make sure to come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and tell me how many quarterbacks I was dead wrong about and which quarterbacks you thought were best this season.
25-Zac Dysert, Miami(OH)
Dysert was hamstrung on a really bad Redhawks team and still managed to throw for nearly 300 yards per game and 25 touchdowns. Watching Dyert and his flowing blonde locks I have to wonder how great he could be if he played on a big name program, but it's still clear he has NFL potential based on the fact that he was able to do so much with so little at Miami(OH). He'd have been ranked higher if only his team could have mustered more than 4 wins.
24-Derek Carr, Fresno State
The younger brother of current pro David Carr is making a name for himself with the Bulldogs. I admit I was late to the party on Carr this year and I had to go back and catch up but I really liked what I saw. 9 wins and better than 4,000 passing yards showed me that he's got that top flight skillset. His shootout win against San Diego State where he threw for 5 touchdowns and over 500 yards was as fun to watch as any I have seen.
23-AJ McCarron, Alabama
It might seem strange to have a quarterback who has already won a national championship and is playing for another one should be ranked this low. But McCarron is the perfect example of a good quarterback surrounded by an elite supporting cast so the oweness is never really put on him to carry the team. He is a very effecient quarterback who never puts his team in a bad spot, rarely turns it over and what gets him on this list is this season he is able to make a big play when needed rather than just leaving it up to the defense.
22-Matthew McGloin, Penn State
I understand that there are lots of quarterbacks who threw for more yards and touchdowns, and won more games, and heck even went to bowl games but I'm not sure there is another quarterback who was able to do more under more tenuous circumstances than McGloin did. No one expected him to win games, but he did. He was missing his 2 top skill players who tranferred out, and he still found a way to be successful. Every week I was more and more impressed with how he was able to lead that group to win after win, when no one gave them a chance.
21-Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Up until his bowl game this year, I doubt most knew who Nassib was, and this wasn't a game that could showcased his skills, but make no mistake Nassib can play. He topped 300 yards 6 times and ended up throwing for for over 3,700 yards and 26 touchdowns. Nassib did benefit from having a very strong run game, but there were plenty of instances where the offense was thrown to him and he was not scared to chuck it down the field.
20-Colby Cameron, La. Tech
I didn't have any idea who Cameron really was until the Bulldogs played their make up game against the Texas A&M Aggies. His team was totally overmatched, and the Aggie defense smothering. All Cameron did was thro for 450 yards and 5 touchdowns and earn the respect of college football experts everywhere. He's tall and skinny and probably won't play a down in the pros. But he's a gunslinger, has a quick release and you can watch him play and see how much he loves the game.
19-Seth Doege, Texas Tech
Doege has started to grow on me. I wasn't a big fan going into the season, but this season he's only failed to throw for less than 300 yards 3 times and done everything in his power to carry a very average Red Raiders team to an 8 win season, when they really had no business getting there.
18-Rakeem Cato, Marshall
Cato is another young man many people who read this have probably never heard of. He's a talented young signal caller who runs the spread one with great acumen. He can throw it and he can run it, and while the statistics aren't mind blowing, he's just a skinny sophomore and I predict big things for him down the road.
17-Nick Florence, Baylor
If big numbers are your thing, than Florence is your guy. He accounted for around 375 yards of offense per game, and his offense put up a staggering 44 points per game. While he's not the athlete Robert Griffin III was for that Baylor offense, his command of the passing portion of it is truly something to watch. Earlier in the season he rang up the West Virginia defense for 581 yards and 6 total touchdowns. If you love offense it was poetry in motion.
16-EJ Manuel, Florida State
Part of me feels little guilty not having Manuel higher. His team is very good, and while he's put up good numbers, I always feel like Manuel is underachieving. His talent level is high, but he never plays with the effort to maximize it. He's a nice athlete and some of his most exciting plays are when he breaks contain and makes a play on the move. I'd just like to see him better on bigger stages, and more consistent effort.
15-Matt Barkley, USC
If there is a name on this list that I will take heat for, it's Barkley. I've never carried a torch for Barkley as a great player, and I just have never felt like he has met the expectations coming into college. I've seen him put up some amazing numbers, but I've always attributed them largely to the scheme he plays in and the targets he has. Being 16th isn't bad, but if I'd have seen him take over a game or 2 in his season, maybe make some plays outside of his big 2 targets, I'd put him even higher.
14-Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Lynch is my wildcard on this list, but I couldn't exclude the record breaking quarterback. He's had the best rushing season of any quarterback in college football history. His team is very average, and he's their only legimate weapon, and so that equates him taking a ton of punishment every game, and still amassing 4,700 yards of total offense with zero help around him.
13-David Fales, San Jose State
Fales is another of these talented junior quarterbacks that promise to make the 2013 season as great as 2012 was. Fales has all the numbers, 4,200 yards and 33 touchdowns, but there's a special quality about him, a poise and confidence that makes watching him a lot of fun. As good as he's been this year, I expect huge things from him next season.
12-Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Much of the talk this season have been about the fabulous freshman. Well Mariota might be the best of the bunch when it's all said and done. He's not a quarterback who could plug into any system and be successful, but he's custom made for that spread offense. 2,500 passing yards might not seem elite, but adding in nearly 700 rushing yards, and totaling 34 touchdowns adds to his resume'. And like other spread quarterbacks, it's his read at the line that makes the offense hum, and the No. 2 overall rushing offense in the nation is that high because of how he calls it from play to play.
11-Landry Jones, Oklahoma
As a Sooners fan, I always have to be smart when I am talking about Jones. Even thought I am a fan, I have been very critical of Jones' play. The reality is that when he's on, Jones is practically unstoppable with that fast paced rhythmic passing game. He can make every throw and averages around 340 yards passing every game, and 29 touchdowns. This ranking may be more of a lifetime achievement award as he's been a bit down this year.
10-Mike Glennon, North Carolina State
Glennon leads off my top 10 not because I think he's going to end up a great pro, but because he's been very successful this season, putting up some very elite numbers, and getting his team 7 wins, minus a great supporting cast. He does have a tendency to turn the ball over at times, and that keeps him from being ranked any higher, but in a pro style offense 4,000+ yards and 30+ touchdowns are impressive with that cast of skill players.
9-Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Bridgewater is my first quarterback on this list I can really consider elite. Not necessarily because of gaudy stats or production, but because when you watch him play he has that air about him, that he's just a special player. There's no formula to calculate it, or a chart for it, but he's so smooth and so poised and so athletic he's just a joy to watch play and will be in the mix to be the best in the country next season.
8-Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Let me just say it right now. I was wrong about Miller. I never thought he's be this good this soon. His ability to take over a game with his arm and with his legs is phenomenal. 3,300 yards and 28 touchdowns is impressive, but it's his knack for the big play that lands him on this list for me. This season he was able to play loose and free without worries about bowl games and it's really helped him grow up as a player. I look forward to a huge 2013 from Miller.
7-Aaron Murray, Georgia
If there is a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde on this list it might be Murray. The good Murray is an easy top 5 quarterback in the country. His touch on the deep ball is beautiful, and he elevates the play of his teammates. On the other hand the bad Murray forces throws and plays over confident at makes silly mistakes and would fall outside my top 10. So, I combine the 2, and that lands the slightly undersized but incredibly talented Murray here at 7.
6-Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
I am sure I will hear about this one, because I have Wilson as my top quarterback in the NFL draft. But I also understand this was a down year for Wilson, largely not his fault. Wilson is a leader and like other great college quarterbacks he makes the players around him better. But even with all the adversity this team faced, nearly 3,400 yards and 21 touchdowns is more than anyone could have hoped for.
5-Geno Smith, West Virginia
Let me start by saying this. When asked if the real Geno Smith is the player from the first half of the year, or from the second, I always answer he's both. Smith is in part a product of the offense he plays in, which is predicated on 1 read, quick throw, receiver gets open. In that case Smith can deliver the football as well as any I've seen in recent years. The problem is in the latter part of the season his receivers were getting jammed, and that threw off everything. Smith still made great throws but the windows just got too tight, and he wasn't making his checkdowns. Not to mention his defense couldn't stop an ice cream truck with a stack of dollar bills. And so getting 4,200 yards and 42 touchdowns with only 6 ints is really impressive.
4-Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Love me some Bray. He's a big tall lanky kid who will try and throw a football through a go kart tire if he think he can do it. His style is reckless and he will make the occasional throw that makes you cringe, but his 3,600 yards and 34 touchdowns were exciting and balanced among his targets and in most cases a lot of fun to watch. Part of the reason I put him this high is I think in a this day and age of dual threat quarterbacks, Bray is old school and plays with a level of confidence that is rare.
3-Collin Klein, Kansas State
He might look like Woody from Toy Story at times when he's playing, but make no mistake, Klein can flat out carry a team. He doesn't have the benefit of top recruits on his offensive line, or at wide receiver. In fact of the top 10 he may have the weakest supporting cast of any of them. 2,500 yards through the air, and nearly 900 more on the ground and a total of 37 touchdowns illustrates that. The amount of punishment Klein takes with 22 of those scores being on the ground is a real testament to just how tough he is, and how much this team counts on him.
2-Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Before anyone starts in, Boyd was no. 2 on this list for me prior to his recent bowl performance. In fact I've been banging the drum for Boyd all season long. You don't amass 4,400 yards and 46 total touchdowns by accident. Boyd is incredibly talented and while he might not be a top 2 NFL draft pick, the best thing you can do with him is just sit back and enjoy watching him play. It sounds like Boyd is going to come back to school, where for my money he's the Heisman trophy frontrunner in 2013.
1-Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
This is not a by default placement for the Heisman Trophy winner. Manziel has been remarkable this year. But the difference between he and Boyd is not that wide for me, so I do give Manziel the nod because of the award. 4,600 total yards and 44 touchdowns is amazing, and how much this team leaned on this freshman was astounding. He really only had 1 bad game all year, and for the most part was the Aggies offense week after week.
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