NCAA Football

Top 5 Freshman QBs of 2012 Not Named Johnny Manziel

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Everybody Knows Johnny Manziel

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 NCAA Football season provided plenty of surprises for fans of college football, but none was as impressive as the number of freshman quarterbacks playing at an elevated level.

Of course there was Johnny Manziel, the kid under center for the Texas A&M Aggies, who became the first ever freshman to win the Heisman trophy, but Manziel wasn’t the only youngster making noise and leading his team.

Normally having a freshman under center is a cause of sleepless nights for coaches and a dream come true for an opposing defense, and I would say that is still the rule. However in the 2012 season there were a greater number of exceptions than in years past. Truly impressive freshman quarterbacks don’t typically pop up in bunches. There was Aaron Murray in 2010, Andrew Luck in 2009, and 2008 saw the duo of Kellen Moore and Robert Griffin III. You’d have to go back to the 2007 season to see a set of triplet freshman QB standouts. That year the country was introduced to Sam Bradford, Colin Kaepernick, and Case Keenum.

By my count the 2012 college football season introduced us to a total of six outstanding freshman QBs. I’ll leave Manziel out of this countdown because there is no argument that he was the best fish quarterback this year. Instead, I’ll take a peek at five more young men who if they continue to develop and mature under center could be competing for their own stiff-arm trophies before their time in college is done.

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Trevone Boykin Impressive for TCU Horned Frogs

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Starting off the list is Trevone Boykin of the TCU Horned Frogs. After celebrated TCU QB Casey Pachall left school due to substance abuse issues, Boykin stepped in and played well for the Frogs. He was 167-292 for 2054 yards, 15 TDs and 10 INTs. Boykin rushed for the second most yards of any QB on the countdown with 417, but only had 3 rushing TDs. Whether or not Pachall will return to TCU is still up in the air. If he comes back, expect the starting job to be his, but if he doesn’t the Horned Frogs have a year older and wiser guy to carry them in Boykin.

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J.W. Walsh is Oklahoma State Cowboys' Gunslinger

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Next up is J.W. Walsh. Walsh took over as the quarterback for the Oklahoma State Cowboys when fellow injury-prone freshman Wes Lunt kept going down. Walsh suffered an undisclosed injury of his own that kept him out of a few games and cost him the starting job for the rest of the season. Still, Walsh completed 66.9% of his throws for 1564 yards, 13 TDs and only 3 INTs. He also ran for 290 yards and 7 touchdowns. There may be a three way battle for the starting job in 2013 between Walsh, Lunt and junior Clint Chelf who finished out the season impressively at QB for the Pokes, but even if he doesn’t get the starting nod for next year Walsh has a bright future.

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Brett Hundley Helped UCLA Bruins Take Over SoCal

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting at number three is Brett Hundley who helped lead the UCLA Bruins to an impressive season in head coach Jim Mora Jr.’s first year at the helm. Hundley led the Bruins to a 9-5 record, but UCLA’s season peaked a little too early with their 38-28 win over the USC Trojans. UCLA finished on a three game skid that included back to back losses to the Stanford Cardinals, one of those being the Pac-12 Championship Game, and a bowl loss. Hundley was 318-478 with 3740 yards, 29 TDs and 11 INTs.Just like the last two stand-outs, Hundley can run as well. He tallied 355 yards and a countdown best 9 TDs in 2012. If Hundley and the Bruins can learn to finish out a season, they will be serious contenders during his time at UCLA.

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Kevin Hogan Helps Stanford Cardinals Forget Andrew Luck

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Staying out west, our number two freshman quarterback is Kevin Hogan who had success for Stanford. Hogan took over the starting job later in the season, so his yardage (1096 passing, 263 rushing) and touchdown (9 passing, 2 rushing) totals aren’t as high as others on the list, but his 71.7% completion percentage is the highest on the countdown and the fact that he went 6-0 as a starter speaks volumes. Hogan reminds me a lot of Andrew Luck, and that means he has a promising future at Stanford.

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Marcus Mariota Gives Oregon Ducks a Blazingly Bright Future

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The top freshman QB of 2012 not named Johnny Manziel is Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks. Oregon fell one loss short of a national championship bid, but methinks they will have another shot at the title as long as young Mr. Mariota is under center for them. Mariota is the picturesque dual threat QB: he plays smart in the passing game and his feet make him dynamic. He completed 68.5% of his passes for 2677 yards, 32 TDs and 6 INTs. On the ground he racked up 752 yards and punched it in for 5 TDs. With Chip Kelly returning for at least one more year at Oregon and Mariota leading the offense, the Ducks should have very high hopes for 2013.