A good team is usually defined by its Quarterback. Have a solid one and you are more than likely going to win a football match.
There have been some greats to have graced College Football and the NFL alike. But with more focus being shifted to new, young quarterbacks in the NFL there are plenty of eyes on the 2022 Draft Class and who can make an impact next year.
In the past 4 years alone there have been 17 quarterbacks drafted in the NFL, including the first 3 picks in the 2021 Draft. This makes the quarterback role extremely important in College Football, as these guys could be the starters in the next 2, 3 or 4 years. That being said, it’s time to take a deeper dive into which Conference possesses the best quarterbacks in 2021.
There is much debate over which Conference has the best quarterbacks, and in my brief time focusing more on the ACC, I think there is plenty of reason to believe that it does in fact live up to the title of the ‘Best Quarterback Conference in CFB’. They currently lead the Quarterback Derby with 9 quarterbacks to have made at least one start in the current NFL season.
Quarterbacks of the ACC
Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh)
We will start with the ACC Week 5 Quarterback of the Week, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett. The award came after he guided the Panthers to a 52-21 win over Georgia Tech. He threw 4 touchdowns, taking his tally for the season to 23 after such a performance. Pickett’s three straight weeks with 4 or more passing touchdowns is the first time since 2009 that someone achieved such a feat in the ACC. He has more than 2100 yards and has made the Pittsburgh offense the top scoring unit the nation. Currently emerging as a Heisman candidate, Pickett is leading the charge for ACC Quarterbacks.
Sam Hartman (Wake Forest)
The undefeated Wake Forest (6-0) can look to Hartman as their main man after such a strong start to the season. He led them to a big 37-34 win over Louisville in Week 5, with Hartman throwing for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, before throwing another 338 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 6. This brought his overall total up to 1615 yards and 14 touchdowns for the season so far. With Wake Forest sitting 16th in the AP Top 25, Hartman is certainly making a name for himself in 2021.
Sam Howell (UNC)
It’s been an uneven season for Sam Howell so far. He has thrown for 1697 yards and 16 touchdowns on the year, but has been sacked 14 times in just 2 matches against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, as well as throwing 3 interceptions against the Hokies and fumbling the ball 3 times against the Yellow Jackets.
With the loss of 4 key players in the 2021 Draft, it was probably inevitable that his production would reduce this season, but he has still thrown for almost 300 yards a game and had standout performances against Virginia and Duke. There is plenty to like about Howell, and he will no doubt improve as he gets used to his new targets, thus making him one to certainly keep an eye on for the rest of the season.
The Injured Duo
Phil Jurkovec (Boston College) and D’Eriq King (Miami)
The injured duo of Jurkovec and King looked solid in the first few weeks of the season, but unfortunately succumbed to injury making their 2021 seasons both over. Jurkovec was analysed a bit deeper earlier in the season by myself, and I liked what I saw of him, thus making it a shame he picked up a wrist injury just 2 weeks into the season. King has a slightly higher chance of featuring again in 2021 after a shoulder injury, throwing for 770 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first 3 weeks.
Other Notable names –
Brennan Armstrong (Virginia) – Currently has 2460 passing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Malik Cunningham (Louisville) – Thrown 8 touchdowns and has 347 rushing yards, with 10 rushing touchdowns
Devin Leary (NC State) – Thrown 12 touchdowns and guided NC State to a big win over Clemson
Quarterbacks of the AAC
Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati)
After guiding Cincinnati to 5th in the AP Top 25, Ridder has shown consistency and the poise to lead Cincinnati to a huge win over Notre Dame in Week 5, as well as solid performances in the first few weeks. He isn’t putting up big numbers, but over 1300 passing yards and 12 touchdowns, as well as 3 rushing touchdowns, has made people sit up and take notice of his performances.
Tanner Mordecai (SMU)
Sliding into the AP Top 25 this week, SMU have been led by the outstanding Mordecai. He has 26 touchdowns for the season and over 1800 passing yards. Mordecai is leading the nation for touchdowns thrown, and has been a big part of SMU’s 6-0 start. He is continuingly improving, throwing over 300 yards in 5 of the first 6 weeks of the season.
Other Notable names –
Seth Henigan (Memphis) – Just 3 interceptions this year, 4/6 matches have had over 300 passing yards
Quarterbacks of the Big-12
Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma)
Struggled massively in the last outing against Texas, Rattler hasn’t put up the big numbers expected of him. Last game saw him replaced by Caleb Williams, but comes off of the back of a big 2020. This has shown he has the talent and ability to put up decent numbers, but will need to find that form quickly if he is to keep Williams at bay.
Quarterbacks of the Big Ten
C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)
Tied-5th in 2021 with passing touchdowns, Stroud put up a big 406 yard game against Maryland last start, with 5 passing touchdowns. Just shy of 1700 yards and only allowing 3 interceptions, there is plenty to like about the Ohio State quarterback. He has helped Ohio State reach 6th in the AP Top 25, and show no signs of slowing down after their impressive 5-1 start to the season.
Other Notable names –
Sean Clifford (Penn State) – Unfortunate to leave the field early last game after a decent start to 2021. Has 1482 passing yards and a QB rating of 83.2.
Payton Thorne (Michigan State) – Has 1576 passing yards and 14 touchdowns to lead Michigan State to a 6-0 start to the season.
Taulia Tagovailoa (Maryland) – Touched on Taulia recently, and ranks 9th in CFB with 1776 passing yards.
Quarterbacks of Pac-12
Notable names –
Jayden Daniels (Arizona State) – Has 1269 passing yards and has rushed for 369 yards in a 5-1 start for Arizona State.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) – Has 11 passing touchdowns as well as 4 rushing touchdowns, as well as just 2 interceptions.
Quarterbacks of SEC
Bryce Young (Alabama)
The main quarterback in the SEC, Young has been dominant in his performances. He ranks 3rd with passing touchdowns (20), as well as having over 1700 passing yards in a near-flawless start for Alabama. Tipped for the Heisman Trophy, the Texas A&M loss should be just a minor speed bump in a long journey for the young QB. He possesses undoubted talent and can be the one quarterback that rivals the ACC and what they have. With unbelievable movement and agility, he can still find the right passes at the right time.
Matt Corral (Ole Miss)
A guy who is ranked very highly in the Full 10 Yards community, Corral guided Ole Miss to a big win over the impressive Razorbacks in Week 6. Just shy of 1500 passing yards, and yet to be intercepted, Corral has plenty of qualities to make him a highly-rated prospect in the wide-open quarterback class of the 2022 Draft. He has the qualities of being able to throw the ball, but also be a threat on the ground. With nearly 1000 rushing yards in his College career, he is an all-round threat. Building his stock week-by-week, Corral is certainly one to watch for the rest of 2021.
Other Notable names –
Will Levis (Kentucky) – Over 1100 passing yards and 11 touchdowns to guide Kentucky to a 6-0 start.
Hendon Hooker (Tennessee) – Over 1000 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 282 rushing yards in a bounce-back season for the Virginia Tech transfer.
Quarterbacks of the Sun Belt
Notable names –
Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina) – With nearly 1500 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, his 87.1 QB rating has seen him guide Coastal Carolina to a 6-0 start.
Despite there being plenty of quality QBs in CFB in 2021, the ACC have to take the crown for having the best there is to offer currently. History speaks for itself in terms of NFL-ready QBs, and there could be a few more to add to the list in the next few years.