There is no more important job in college football than being the starting quarterback. The plays a QB executes or fails to execute are almost always the difference in a team winning a game or covering the point spread. And with turnovers being such an integral part of how games turn out, the players most responsible are the quarterbacks. The QBs who are comfortable in their systems and confident in their abilities can take their teams to great heights.
Look at the situation at Clemson over the last decade. With Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence under center, the Tigers won national titles, twice in three years. Sandwiched between those championships was a year when they came up short, and I firmly believe it was because the starting QB that season was Kelly Bryant. He was not a horrible option but clearly was not at the level of Watson or Lawrence. When Bryant transferred to Missouri, he didn’t exactly light up the SEC, either, as the Tigers went just 5-5 in his 10 starts.
For bettors preparing for the 2021 season, it pays to know the quality of the quarterbacks. To me, there are four scenarios for evaluating. In cases when the starter is returning with the same coaching staff in place, the assessment is as easy as looking at last year’s performance and making minor adjustments for the players who will surround him this season. When the starter is the same but will be playing in a new offense under a new coach or offensive coordinator, it gets a little trickier, but for the most part you can make some assumptions about the quality of that player. In the case of a new starter taking over a system that has been in place, the best way to analyze it is to compare the physical attributes and recruiting grades of the new player, then read some local coverage of that team’s spring practices, scrimmages and other tidbits. Where the analysis gets most unpredictable is when a new quarterback takes control for a new coaching staff. There is really no concrete way to predict the success of the new combination, and the more resourceful you can be in digging up information, the better your chances.
I ran through all the expected quarterback situations across the country and ranked the teams by conference in this important area. Naturally, the better the quarterback situation, the more success that team is likely to achieve in 2021. At last check, starting quarterbacks were returning for 89 of 130 FBS teams. This doesn’t mean they were full-time starters or that they will be in that position for Game 1 of 2021, but it does provide an overall value of how much experience returns. The 89 is higher than most seasons, and the experience factor is heightened even more when considering how many transfers figure to step into starting spots at their new homes.
The last time I did this was in 2019, and the amount of feedback I received might have topped any other report I’ve done, so clearly it is a subject of great interest to bettors. Feel free to send comments, kudos, objections or any other feedback at [email protected] (Note that the player in parentheses is the expected starter. This will change in some circumstances before Week 1.)
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
1. North Carolina (Sam Howell): In-state star who stayed home, has led Tar Heels to 15 wins in two seasons since arriving after a 2-9 campaign.
2. Clemons (D.J. Uiagalelei): Takes over for Trevor Lawrence with lofty expectations. Former highly rated recruit stepped in when Lawrence was out last year, throwing for five TDs and rushing for four. Brings different element to Clemson offense.
3. Miami (D’Eriq King): Transferred from Houston before ’20. Unexpectedly back for 2021 after injury in bowl game. Small but dynamic playmaker.
4. Boston College (Phil Jurkovec): Returning starter had big 2020 season, throwing for 2,558 yards and 17-5 TD-INT ratio. Big, strong kid with matching arm.
5. Florida State (McKenzie Milton): UCF transfer returning to play for first time after brutal injury. Missed last two seasons but put up huge numbers (72 TDs) in three seasons with Golden Knights.
6. Louisville (Malik Cunningham): Dual-threat QB who accounted for over 3,200 yards of offense and 27 TDs last year. Has 14 career starts, but Louisville coming off 4-7 season.
7. Pittsburgh (Kenny Pickett): Pickett has been starting games at Pitt since 2017 but hasn’t put up big numbers in any season. Perhaps the extra year of eligibility can change that.
8. NC State (Devin Leary): Should be full-time starter after two years in part-time role. Has 16-7 TD-INT ratio in eight career starts. Average size for ACC QB.
9. Wake Forest (Sam Hartman): Has been in or around the starting job at Wake since 2018. Average size, average stats, but most experienced QB in the conference. Threw key interceptions in bowl loss to Wisconsin.
10. Georgia Tech (Jeff Sims): Sims threw for 13-13 TD-INT ratio in his freshman season last year. Big kid at 6-4, 215 who should continue to improve along with rest of offense in third year of coach Geoff Collins’ system.
11. Syracuse (Garrett Shrader): Transfer from Mississippi State, where he started four games in two seasons, figures to step in for the embattled Tommy DeVito, who settles in as No. 2. Shrader the bigger, more imposing figure and a more highly rated recruit.
12. Virginia (Brennan Armstrong): Started 11 games last year after taking over for highly successful Bryce Perkins. Left-hander was modestly recruited by ACC standards.
13. Virginia Tech (Braxton Burmeister): The 6-1, 205-pound returnee started four games in 2020, putting up modest numbers. Now a junior.
14. Duke (Gunnar Holmberg): Potential open battle for QB job could last late into August. Winner replaces Chase Brice, who left after one year following transfer from Clemson. Holmberg has inside track, though he threw just 25 passes last year and was intercepted twice.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
1. Cincinnati (Desmond Ridder): Has 25 career starts, dual-threat QB has simply been a winner for Cincinnati. Debated between Ridder and Dillon Gabriel for No. 1 but like Ridder’s 2021 situation better.
2. UCF (Dillon Gabriel): Prolific numbers the last two seasons with 61 TDs. Won-lost mark slipped last season and will be looking to restore that under Gus Malzahn.
3. Memphis (Grant Gunnell): Huge Arizona transfer listed at 6-6, 225. Has big arm and put up decent numbers (15-3 TD-INT ratio) with Wildcats. Should boast prolific stats at Memphis.
4. East Carolina (Holton Ahlers): Boasts 17 career starts and 33 TDs and is big reason Pirates have improved significantly offensively in the two years under Mike Houston. Expect that trend to continue with 10 starters back.
5. SMU (Tanner Mordecai): Oklahoma transfer who was highly rated recruit but has played in just 12 games over three seasons. Should step in as starter, but freshman Preston Stone is also highly regarded.
6. Tulane (Michael Pratt): Pratt threw for 20 TDs in nine starts as freshman in 2020 with just five starters back alongside him. He has nine others back for 2021 after leading Green Wave to 34.7 PPG.
7. Temple (D’Wan Mathis): Transfer from Georgia who was four-star recruit and started one game with lackluster results last year. Great athlete at 6-6, 205 who should find going easier in AAC.
8. Houston (Clayton Tune): Third-year starter has put up modest numbers by Houston QB standards under Dana Holgorsen. Cougars are just 7-13 with Holgorsen-Tune combo.
9. Tulsa (Davis Brin): Favorite to step in for multiyear starter Zach Smith, who has moved on to the NFL. Threw 29 passes last year for 268 yards and two TDs. Good potential in this offense under coach Philip Montgomery.
10. Navy (Xavier Arline): Typical small, quick and agile Navy QB to run option offense, but had only 280 total yards to his credit in three 2020 starts.
11. South Florida (Cade Fortin): In unsettled situation at USF, Fortin is the highest-rated recruit of the group. Appeared in two games last year for 1-8 Bulls.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE
1. Oklahoma (Spencer Rattler): Still listed as redshirt freshman after gaining extra year of eligibility but surely has only two years left at Oklahoma before heading to NFL. Elite athlete but on the small side at 6-1, 210. Will put up massive numbers in hunt for Heisman Trophy.
2. Iowa State (Brock Purdy): Was first-team All-Big 12 last year even with Rattler in the league. Not the athlete Rattler is but solid as they come as multiyear starting QB. Back with full complement of offensive starters, including RB Breece Hall.
3. Texas Tech (Tyler Shough): Transferred from Oregon this season. Big kid at 6-5, 230 should post better numbers in coach Matt Wells’ offense. Struggled down the stretch last year for Ducks after huge three-game start.
4. TCU (Max Duggan): Dual threat who rushed for 10 TDs and threw for 10 more in 2020. Multiyear starter stands 6-2 and weighs 201.
5. Texas (Hudson Card): Stable of highly rated quarterbacks in battle to replace Sam Ehlinger, none bigger than 6-2. With Steve Sarkisian taking over, Longhorns have hopes of recreating Alabama’s recent offensive prowess.
6. Oklahoma State (Spencer Sanders): Started nine games last year for 8-3 OSU and 10 games in 2019 for 8-5 team. Putting up decent numbers but not at the level of his predecessors with 30 passing TDs total.
7. West Virginia (Jarret Doege): Transferred from Bowling Green before 2019 and has thrown 60 career TD passes. Listed as junior despite 31 career starts. Helped WVU improve by 6 PPG in coach Neal Brown’s second season.
8. Kansas State (Skylar Thompson): If you’re surprised to see Skylar Thompson still starting at QB for Kansas State, so was I. Seems like he’s been here forever. Senior has 27 starts, only three last year in injury-riddled season.
9. Baylor (Gerry Bohanon): Baylor QB position has fallen off dramatically since days of Robert Griffin III. Bohanon is shown as favorite to replace Charlie Brewer, who transferred. Off 2-7 season, Bears hope 6-3, 221-pound Bohanon can lead them back to prominence.
10. Kansas (Jalon Daniels): Don’t confuse this fellow with Jayden Daniels of Arizona State. This one threw one TD pass in 152 attempts last year as a Jayhawks freshman and will be working in new system under coach Lance Leipold. Better runner than thrower.
BIG TEN CONFERENCE
1. Indiana (Michael Penix): Penix has torn two ACLs since arriving at Indiana in ’18. Accounted for 16 TDs in six games last season before injury. Great dual-threat athlete.
2. Wisconsin (Graham Mertz): Mertz was fantastic in first two games of 2020 before losing primary receivers. Highly rated recruit could blossom with full complement of returning skill players.
3. Ohio State (C.J. Stroud): No QB on roster has thrown a college pass. Great recruit list, however, and Stroud, a 6-3, 215-pound freshman, has lead on starter role. Whoever wins job should post big numbers.
4. Purdue (Jack Plummer): Plummer and Aidan O’Connell split reps in 2020, combining for impressive 15-4 TD-INT ratio. Plummer is the bigger option at 6-5, 220.
5. Nebraska (Adrian Martinez): Best season for Martinez was in 2018 as true freshman, has since battled injuries and fumble woes. Dual-threat athlete who seems the ideal fit for coach Scott Frost’s spread option.
6. Minnesota (Tanner Morgan): Morgan disappointed last year with his top weapon absent. Back now as a junior with 19 starts and 39 TD throws to his credit.
7. Penn State (Sean Clifford): The 6-2 junior has started 24 games, posting 41 TD passes. Considered a game manager more than an elite thrower. Nittany Lions were just 4-5 last season.
8. Illinois (Brandon Peters): Peters was one of three QBs who started for Illini in 2020 and completed less than 50% of his passes. Was highly recruited and known for strong arm. Rutgers transfer Artur Sitkowski could enter the mix.
9. Northwestern (Ryan Hilinski): Hilinski was highly rated recruit into South Carolina and started 11 games as freshman in 2019. Threw only six passes before transferring in 2020. Good size, good arm.
10. Michigan (Alan Bowman): Bowman started 16 games at Texas Tech, throwing 33 TD passes. A few highly rated recruits behind him on depth chart could challenge for job. Leading rusher and top two receivers back for 2021.
11. Maryland (Taulia Tagovailoa): Tua’s brother is just 5-11, 205 but a good playmaker and started career at Alabama. Showed great promise but also questionable decision-making last season.
12. Iowa (Spencer Petras): Petras started all eight games for 6-2 Iowa last year, throwing nine TD passes. Big frame at 6-5, 231.
13. Michigan State (Anthony Russo): Russo, a big body at 6-4, 245, transferred here after starting 26 games at Temple with a 44-32 TD-INT ratio. Stepping up to Big Ten play will be a challenge.
14. Rutgers (Noah Vedral): Vedral, a junior, is 6-1, 200, and had 9-8 TD-INT ratio in seven starts.
1. UTSA (Frank Harris): Harris was first-team all-conference last year and accounted for 22 TDs. Still will battle with highly rated Lowell Narcisse if the latter is healthy.
2. Middle Tennessee State (Bailey Hockman): Hockman underachieved in two seasons at NC State, so perhaps transfer into C-USA could be better fit. Was originally recruited by Florida State.
3. Western Kentucky (Bailey Zappe): Zappe was one of top QBs in FCS at Houston Baptist, throwing for 78 TDs in four seasons. San Diego State transfer Carson Baker should also see the field.
4. UAB (Tyler Johnston): Johnston is multiyear starter at UAB who saw his first action in 2018. Blazers are 26-11 since then. Threw only 97 passes last year but had 7-1 TD-INT ratio before foot injury. Replacement Bryson Lucero went 7-8.
5. North Texas (Austin Aune): Aune put up solid numbers in split role last season, throwing for 1,658 yards and 13 TDs in just 185 attempts. Former baseball player with strong arm.
6. Florida Atlantic (N’Kosi Perry): Perry had nine starts at Miami and accounted for 24 TDs. Long, wiry frame at 6-4, 195. Michael Johnson, another highly rated recruit and Penn State transfer, could see snaps.
7. Marshall (Grant Wells): Wells was phenomenal in his true freshman season’s first seven games before wheels fell off. Wound up with 18-9 TD-INT ratio and has top two WRs back.
8. Rice (Luke McCaffrey): Redshirt freshman has been at Nebraska and Louisville. Dual-threat athlete who brings high expectations.
9. Louisiana Tech (Luke Anthony): Started eight games last year with 16-5 TD-INT ratio. Transferred from Abilene Christian. Suffered serious leg injury in season finale but should be ready for season.
10. UTEP (Gavin Hardison): Sophomore posted very modest numbers in seven starts last year, with just five TD passes in 199 attempts. He is one of 11 starters back and has huge arm, so better production is expected in 2021.
11. Charlotte (Chris Reynolds): Reynolds is small at 5-11, 198 but mobile and has started 18 games for 49ers. Could struggle to hold off Texas A&M transfer James Foster.
12. Old Dominion (Darriel Mack): Mack began career at UCF and started three games in ’18 and ’19. Good size at 6-3, 230 and can run.
13. Southern Miss (Trey Lowe): Lowe is only returning player at position for Southern Miss but threw just 59 passes in three starts. Will have to stave off challenge from Louisville transfer Ty Keyes, a more mobile, lesser-armed option.
14. Florida International (Max Bortenschlager): Had two starts a year ago, completing 47% of passes for 2-1 TD-INT ratio. Good size for C-USA QB at 6-3, 205.
1. Liberty (Malik Willis): Big-time playmaker who has lifted Liberty to new heights, accounting for 34 TDs last year. Had huge performance in bowl win over Coastal Carolina. Started career at Auburn.
2. Notre Dame (Jack Coan): Started 18 games at Wisconsin and had 23 TD passes. Known more as game manager than playmaker. Could be interesting battle with highly rated freshman recruits Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne waiting in the wings.
3. BYU (Jacob Conover): Conover has huge shoes to fill in replacing NFL No. 2 draft pick Zach Wilson. Highly rated freshman isn’t a lock to win the job.
4. New Mexico State (Jonah Johnson): Johnson is a 6-3, 235-pounder who started one of the two games NMSU played last season. JC transfer.
5. Massachusetts (Tyler Lytle): Lytle transferred from Colorado after three years of very limited action, throwing for just 68 yards total. Huge body at 6-5, 220 and was three-star recruit.
6. Army (Jabari Laws): Typical small, savvy Army option QB didn’t play last year but started five games in 2019. Black Knights’ quarterbacks had just four TD passes against six interceptions in 2020.
7. Connecticut (Jack Zergiotis): Zergiotis was the starter when UConn last played football in 2019. He had 9-11 TD-INT ratio in Huskies’ 2-10 season in the AAC.
1. Kent State (Dustin Crum): The 6-3 senior had huge 2020, throwing for 1,181 yards with 12 TDs and rushing for four more in 3-1 campaign. Offense put up nation-best 49.8 PPG.
2. Ball State (Drew Plitt): Plitt was second-team All-MAC in leading Ball State to league title last year. Has 50 career TD passes in 26 starts.
3. Central Michigan (Jacob Sirmon): Sirmon transfers from Washington. Was four-star recruit at 6-5, 240 out of high school. Should improve position for offense that averaged 30+ PPG in both years under coach Jim McElwain.
4. Western Michigan (Kaleb Eleby): Eleby started 10 games in last two seasons for WMU and has impressive 22-5 TD-INt ratio. Back with eight other starters.
5. Eastern Michigan (Preston Hutchinson): Dual-threat QB who accounted for 20 total TDs in six games last season.
6. Toledo (Carter Bradley): Bradley has started two games in each of last two seasons. Had huge 432-yard, 3-TD game at Northern Illinois in 2020. Should put up big numbers with 10 offensive starters back.
7. Northern Illinois (Rocky Lombardi): Lombardi transfers from Michigan State after three “rocky” seasons. With good size at 6-3, 217, should fare better in MAC.
8. Akron (Kato Nelson): Nelson missed entire 2020 season after 26 starts in three previous seasons. Had 34-16 TD-INT ratio in that span. Good runner as well.
9. Ohio (Kurtis Rourke): Brother of multiyear starter Nathan Rourke, who graduated after 2019 season. Had 66% completion percentage and 3-0 TD-INT ratio in Bobcats’ three games. Second-string Armani Rogers was starter at UNLV.
10. Miami (Ohio) (Brett Gabbert): Blaine Gabbert’s brother has 16 starts in two seasons, throwing for 15 TDs vs. eight INTs. Top eight receiving targets are back.
11. Buffalo (Kyle Vantrease): Has 15 starts in two seasons for Bulls. Threw for seven TDs in 6-1 season of 2020. Only three other starters back alongside him.
12. Bowling Green (Matt McDonald): Gets another shot to start despite 43.9% completion percentage and 1-6 TD-INT ratio in 2020. Deemed most talented QB on roster after transferring from Boston College but coming off shoulder surgery.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
1. Nevada (Carson Strong): Was offensive POY in Mountain West last season after throwing for 2,850 yards and 27-4 TD-INT ratio. Has all but one returning offensive starter with him as well. Sophomore stands 6-4, 215.
2. San Jose State (Nick Starkel): Transfer from Texas A&M lifted SJSU from 8-29 in three previous seasons to 7-1 last year. Made surprise decision to return for another season after leading Spartans to conference crown.
3. Boise State (Hank Bachmeier): Bachmeier missed a couple of games with COVID-19 in 2020 and has 13 starts on his ledger. Poised but average size at 6-1, 204.
4. Fresno State (Jake Haener): Washington transfer started all six games in 2020 for Bulldogs. Somewhat small at 6-1, 194 but makes most of size. Third-team All-MWC last year.
5. Hawaii (Chevan Cordeiro): Cordeiro has proven to be a better dual threat than once envisioned, throwing for 2,000+ yards and leading team in rushing in 2020.
6. Utah State (Logan Bonner): Bonner comes in from Arkansas State along with new coach Blake Anderson. Very good numbers in four seasons at ASU, including 30-9 TD-INT ratio.
7. New Mexico (Terry Wilson): Multiyear starter at Kentucky threw for modest 3,436 yards in 24 starts. Should stabilize position after four players threw at least 18 passes in 2020.
8. Air Force (Haaziq Daniels): Daniels started all six games in 2020, leading Falcons to 3-3 finish and posting modest numbers both throwing and running. Averaged 8.02 yards per attempt, however.
9. UNLV (Doug Brumfield): UNLV figures to have another QB battle brewing all preseason camp. Brumfield is odds-on favorite and biggest option at 6-5, 225.
10. San Diego State (Lucas Johnson): Johnson and Jordon Brookshire each played some in 2020 but will be battling higher-rated Jalen Mayden for starting spot. Position struggled for SDSU in 2020, with just six TDs in 4-4 finish.
11. Wyoming (Levi Williams): Williams started five of six games last season, throwing just one TD vs. three INTs. Perhaps better run threat than passer. Sean Chambers is also back but has endured three season-ending injuries.
12. Colorado State (Todd Centeio): Senior and only returning experienced QB. Will have to win battle with transfers from Eastern Illinois and Boston College to secure job after going 14 of 36 for 207 yards in 2020.
1. USC (Kedon Slovis): Not a highly rated recruit out of high school, just three-star at 6-2, 186. Is now listed at 6-3, 215. Has 47 TD passes in two years (17 games) as starter.
2. Arizona State (Jayden Daniels): Centerpiece of ASU offense accounted for nine TDs in four games in 2020. Had impressive 17-2 TD-INT ratio in ’19. Dangerous runner.
3. UCLA (Dorian Thompson-Robinson): Has started games in three straight seasons. Officially still a junior, had strong 2020 season, accounting for 15 TDs. Good option for coach Chip Kelly’s offense, one of 20 starters back for Bruins.
4. California (Chase Garbers): Multiyear starter has played 23 games in three seasons. Best year was 2019, when he had 14-3 TD-INT ratio.
5. Stanford (Tanner McKee): Very highly rated recruit. Threw just seven passes in his true freshman season. Goes 6-6, 220.
6. Utah (Charlie Brewer): Accomplished more in four years at Baylor than expected out of high school. Had 65 TD passes before transferring after 2020 season.
7. Washington (Dylan Morris): Started for Washington in its 3-1 season of 2020. On the small side at 6 feet, 200, had just four TD passes. Was four-star recruit.
8. Washington State (Jarrett Guarantano): Played four years at Tennessee and was capable but inconsistent. Had 38-17 TD-INT ratio in 30 starts but played in just one bowl game. Good size at 6-4, 219.
9. Oregon (Anthony Brown): Played in two games last year for Ducks after transferring from Boston College. Played three years there, threw 40 TD passes. Decent runner at 6-2, 228.
10. Oregon State (Tristan Gebbia): Former four-star recruit, started four games for Beavers in 2020, compiling 3-3 TD-INT ratio. Has nine other offensive starters back alongside.
11. Colorado (J.T. Shrout): Shrout should win job after two years at Tennessee. Posted modest numbers in SEC, starting just two games, but good size at 6-3, 215.
12. Arizona (Jordan McCloud): McCloud was listed at 5-10, 150 on his original 247Sports profile. Now shown as 6 feet, 193. Only a three-star recruit, stepping up from South Florida of AAC to Pac-12. Wildcats were 0-5 in 2020, outscored by 22+ PPG.
1. Georgia (JT Daniels): Listed as sophomore after 16 starts in two seasons, including 12 for USC in 2019. Had 10-2 TD-INT ratio here last year and should be even better as full-time starter in second season for Bulldogs.
2. Ole Miss (Matt Corral): Corral was highly rated recruit out of Long Beach Poly. Had huge season in 2020, coach Lane Kiffin’s first at Ole Miss, throwing for 29 TDs. Started four games in 2019 too.
3. Alabama (Bryce Young): Big shoes to fill in taking over for Mac Jones. Offense could change under new coordinator Bill O’Brien as compared with Steve Sarkisian’s prolific attack. A five-star recruit, Young has already cashed in on NCAA’s new NIL policy.
4. Auburn (Bo Nix): Former five-star recruit followed dad’s footsteps in choosing Auburn. Was better as freshman in 2019 than last year. Will command new scheme with coach Bryan Harsin’s arrival from Boise State.
5. Tennessee (Joe Milton): Milton could emerge as the starter after transferring from Michigan. Job is wide open, with Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker and 6-5, four-star freshman Harrison Bailey in the mix as well. Good talent depth for new high-tempo offense of Josh Heupel.
6. Mississippi State (Will Rogers): Had up-and-down freshman season for Mike Leach’s offense. Only 11-7 TD-INT ratio in six starts. Could be pushed by Jack Abraham, multiyear starter at Southern Miss.
7. LSU (Myles Brennan): Brennan and Max Johnson in battle for starting gig after splitting duties in 2020. Brennan is the more pro-style QB and better thrower, while Johnson adds dynamic running aspect to offense. With either option, Tigers should be better in 2021.
8. Florida (Emory Jones): Jones threw 32 passes in relief of Kyle Trask in 2020. Will bring more of a run option than his predecessor.
9. Texas A&M (Haynes King): Another highly rated recruit stepping into a situation in which predecessor had huge career. Played in two games 2020; good runner and thrower.
10. Vanderbilt (Ken Seals): Despite 0-9 record and overtures to go elsewhere, Seals is back at Vandy with new coaching staff. Had 12-10 TD-INT ratio and showed promise as freshman.
11. Arkansas (KJ Jefferson): Started just one game in 2020, leading Arkansas to highest point total of season (48 vs. Missouri), throwing three TD passes and no INTs. Good size at 6-3, 220.
12. Missouri (Connor Bazelak): Bazelak took over starting job in Game 2 last season and had 7-6 TD-INT ratio in nine games. Was wishbone QB in high school.
13. South Carolina (Luke Doty): Doty is known as a fantastic athlete, played some wide receiver and QB last season. Passing numbers were modest but should improve for four-star recruit in Year 2 of career and Year 1 under coach Shane Beamer.
14. Kentucky (Will Levis): Levis transfers from Penn State after starting two games in two seasons. Not a real highly rated prospect but brings good size at 6-3, 231.
SUN BELT CONFERENCE
1. Coastal Carolina (Grayson McCall): Huge true freshman season as McCall earned conference POY honors. Threw 26 TD passes vs. three INTs and rushed for seven TDs.
2. South Alabama (Jake Bentley): Bentley has endured an embattled career, beginning at South Carolina and winding up at Utah before transferring to South Alabama to wrap up his college time. Great size at 6-4, 220 and figures to be one of the highest-rated recruits to ever play QB in the Sun Belt.
3. Appalachian State (Chase Brice): Transferred from Duke after starting 11 games there last season, throwing for 10 TDs and 15 INTs in 2-9 campaign. Highly rated recruit by Sun Belt standards, should fare better here.
4. Arkansas State (Layne Hatcher): The other half of the two-headed QB rotation last season — the one who decided to stay for the new coaching staff. Has 20 starts and 46-12 TD-INT ratio in career.
5. Louisiana (Levi Lewis): Just 5-10, 190 but brings a ton of experience and production in 28 starts with 54 TDs vs. only 14 INTs. Also ran for five TDs last year and was second-team All-SBC.
6. Georgia State (Cornelious Brown): Has wiry frame at 6-5, 190, but arm is huge and he can run. Started 10 games while Panthers went 6-4, and all offensive starters are back.
7. Troy (Taylor Powell): Spent first two college seasonsat Missouri but got very limited reps. Should help improve Troy offense coming off lowest-scoring year since 2014.
8. Texas State (Brady McBride): Both quarterbacks who got regular reps in 2020 are back. McBride had 17-7 TD-INT ratio and showed mobility.
9. Louisiana-Monroe (Rhett Rodriguez): Rodriguez, son of new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, transfers from Arizona along with his dad. Played four years for Wildcats and had just 3-4 TD-INT ratio.
10. Georgia Southern (Justin Tomlin): Threw just 25 passes last season and was intercepted three times. Sophomore is 5-11, 190.