Unlike the last two years, there is no Heisman Trophy winner returning to college football this year. There is no Johnny Manziel or Jameis Winston -- two players who took a shot at a Heisman repeat -- and there is no more Marcus Mariota. There is no sure-thing No. 1 quarterback in the country entering the 2015 season.
There are a lot of very good quarterbacks, plenty of whom are easy to write about, but they're also difficult to rank. There are stars coming off injuries (Taysom Hill, Braxton Miller, Chuckie Keeton, J.T. Barrett). There are erratic players trying to match NFL hype (Christian Hackenberg). There are rising stars with small sample sizes (Deshaun Watson, Cardale Jones, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs). There are option quarterbacks who don't pass much (Justin Thomas, Keenan Reynolds). There are career backups who are expected to shine as starters (Seth Russell, Jeremy Johnson). There's even a star FCS transfer trying to replace a Heisman winner (Vernon Adams)
So, 2015 sets up as a fascinating year for college quarterback play, a season in which December rankings will likely look much different than a preseason list. This is the last in the seven-part series of rankings by position at Sports on Earth, and it includes the most projecting, by far, instead of relying mostly on what has already been accomplished. Given this hodgepodge of different types of quarterbacks in unique situations, with no clear-cut No. 1 (even the defending national champion returns three stars at the position), there had to be some guesses about the future involved. Here's one look at the top 25 (plus two) entering the fall, with a wide-open race for both the Heisman and the top pick in the NFL draft (although these are not NFL draft rankings).
25. Everett Golson, Florida State. Golson wasn't the most bizarre first-half Heisman candidate last season -- hello, Kenny Hill -- but it does seem crazy in retrospect. Notre Dame fell apart in the second half, and Golson did as well. In August and September, Golson averaged 8.5 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns, two picks and a 69.6 percent completion rate. By the end of the year, he completed 60 percent of his passes with an average of 8.1 yards per attempt, 29 touchdowns and 22 total turnovers (14 picks, eight fumbles). When he's good, he can look really good: He can move in the pocket, he can go through his progressions and he's accurate. Against Syracuse, he completed 25 passes in a row. He's a better quarterback than he was as a freshman in leading Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season. But the inability to take care of the ball is a killer. We'll see which version of Golson shows up under Jimbo Fisher's tutelage for his final season in Tallahassee as a graduate transfer, and if he can beat out Sean Maguire for the Noles' starting job.
24. Malik Zaire, Notre Dame. We have not seen much of Zaire, and even when he started the Music City Bowl and earned game MVP honors, he threw for only 96 yards and ran for 96. But he is poised to thrive in Brian Kelly's offense. Zaire is a more willing runner than Golson, and in the very limited action we've seen from him, he has completed 21 of 35 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown and rushed 33 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns. That's it. But he was a four-star recruit. He has a great arm combined with explosive speed. And he has a deep receiving corps and one of the nations' best offensive lines. There's a reason Golson left.
23. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn. Like Zaire, Johnson is mostly a projection. He's been hyped as a much better passer than Nick Marshall, but now he has to prove it. He did start last year against Arkansas, playing the first half when Marshall was suspended, and he completed 12 of 16 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. That's about all we saw of him. Otherwise, he's played only in mop-up duty the last two years. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Johnson, a junior, brings a much different skill set to the Auburn offense. That's not a bad thing. While we've grown accustomed to running quarterbacks in Gus Malzahn's offenses, his history shows a track record of success with pass-first offenses too. Johnson is position for a big-time breakout for a team that can be a playoff contender with the right breaks.
22. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State. Keeton has been touted every preseason the last few years, only to run into unfortunate injury trouble. He first tore his ACL in October 2013, then re-injured his knee in September last season. He's played in only nine games the last two years, but before that he completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,373 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine picks and ran for 619 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012. He's one of the beat dual-threats in the country, and now it's a matter of rebounding staying healthy -- because he did not look 100 percent between injuries when he played early last season. After getting a redshirt, he'll return and attempt to recapture past magic for a Utah State team that has become the best non-Boise State program in the Mountain West.
21. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee. For a season and a half, Butch Jones struggled to find a quarterback for the Vols, with injuries and players seeing the field before they were ready. But Dobbs finally emerged as the guy in the second half of last season, with a possible breakout in store as for a team on the rise. He struggled in limited action as a true freshman in 2013, but upon replacing the injured Justin Worley halfway through last season, Dobbs emerged as a potential star. He completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,206 yards with nine touchdowns and six picks in six games, also rushing 104 times for 469 yards and eight touchdowns. By no means was Dobbs flawless, but he's an enticing dual threat who should make significant strides with a full offseason as starter, a better offensive line and a potentially dangerous running game around him.
20. Seth Russell, Baylor. We haven't seen much of Russell yet, but it's a safe bet that he warrants inclusion on this list. Baylor starting quarterbacks -- whether it's been Bryce Petty, Nick Florence or Robert Griffin III -- have thrown for at least 3,500 yards each of the last five years as Art Briles' offense has taken hold. In limited duty last year, Russell completed 48 of 85 passes for 804 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. A 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, Russell also moves well (he ran 32 times for 185 yards and three touchdowns), and he'll be surrounded by the nation's deepest receiving corps and all five starters returning to a good line. He has a chance to out-perform Petty.
19. Kevin Hogan, Stanford. Stanford turned a corner when Hogan first entered the starting lineup as a freshman in 2012, but he may have generated a bit too much hype at the time. It's been an up-and-down ride since. Last year, he finished fifth in the Pac-12 in passer rating (145.8), completing 65.9 percent for 2,792 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight picks, but he also had a few games in which he struggled mightily. The Cardinal couldn't get out of their own way, constantly stalling in the red zone and struggling to support one of the nation's best defenses as they fell to 8-5. However, it must be noted that Hogan dealt with things much bigger than football during the season, as his father passed away in December. There was brief speculation after the season that Hogan might transfer for his senior season, but he put those rumors to rest and decided to return.
Hogan and the Cardinal did catch fire down the stretch, and with nine starters returning to the offense, Stanford has high hopes for a bounce-back season in which it can contend for the Pac-12 title again. Hogan has always had impressive physical tools. If he can find consistency next to an improved running game, his senior year could be memorable.
18. Jacoby Brissett, N.C. State. After a mandated year on the bench upon transferring from Florida, Brissett flashed potential as starter, even if results were mixed. There were lows (4 of 18 for 35 yards in a 41-0 loss to Clemson), but he also threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns against Florida State and made some plays that few other quarterbacks are capable of athletically. In 13 games, he completed 59.7 percent of 2,606 yards with 23 touchdowns and five picks, and he ran 124 times for 529 yards and three touchdowns. N.C. State made nice strides in Dave Doeren's second season, and Brissett gives the Wolfpack a physical, mobile quarterback at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, one who can be an expert improviser. He's inconsistent, but he has high upside, depending on how a questionable receiving corps develops.
17. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys attempted to redshirt Rudolph last season, but injuries to both J.W. Walsh and Daxx Garman forced them to burn the redshirt at the end of the year. Rudolph was seen as the future of the program, and he showed it in just three games. He completed 49 of 86 passes for 853 yards with six touchdowns and four picks, leading a comeback Bedlam win over Oklahoma and a Cactus Bowl win over Washington after losing his debut to Baylor. It was an impressive late-season run against quality competition for a young quarterback who didn't expect to play until 2015 and who had a mediocre running game supporting him. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore boasts a strong arm and impressive pocket presence, and he's an obvious breakout candidate this fall after leading a late-season transformation for what had been an aimless Cowboys offense.
16. Keenan Reynolds, Navy. Reynolds has been a machine for Navy's option attack. He has started 32 games in three seasons, and in that time has rushed for 64 touchdowns. He's only 14 away from setting the career rushing touchdowns record currently owned by Montee Ball, and he also has 3,186 career rushing yards. Last season, he missed two games but still ran 250 times for 1,191 yards and 23 touchdowns and threw for 843 yards and six touchdowns. He once had seven rushing touchdowns in a game against San Jose State in 2013, and six last year vs. Georgia Southern. Now, in his fourth year as starter, he'll lead the Midshipmen into the American Athletic Conference, where they can be contenders and he could be the player of the year.
15. Marquise Williams, North Carolina. Williams has been a bit underrated during his career. Last season, for a solid offense that was overshadowed by a struggling defense, Williams threw for 3,073 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine picks, and he had 193 rushing attempts for 783 yards and 13 touchdowns. Like the rest of the Tar Heels, he's inconsistent, but he could turn into a star if UNC ever realizes its potential. A 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior, Williams is one of the better running quarterbacks in college football, and his rushing numbers would be even better if he didn't take so many sacks (he got hit a lot and sat out the spring with a hip injury). With 10 starters returning to the offense, Williams has a chance to make a big name for himself in his final year, even if recent history has made it dangerous to get too excited about the Tar Heels as a whole.
14. Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky. Rakeem Cato and Marshall got all the attention out of Conference USA last year, but Doughty quarterbacked the one team that beat the Herd, and one of the most prolific offenses in the country. Under new coach Jeff Brohm, the Hilltoppers beat Marshall 67-66, beat Old Dominion 66-51, beat Bowling Green 59-31, lost to Middle Tennessee 50-47, beat Army 52-24 and beat Central Michigan 49-48 in a mind-boggling finish at the Bahamas Bowl. The Hilltoppers didn't play much defense, but they were one of the most entertaining teams in football. Doughty, a 6-foot-3, 216-pound sixth-year senior, completed 67.9 percent for 4,830 yards with 49 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, ranking third in passer rating.
13. Brad Kaaya, Miami. Kaaya was pushed into the starting job as a true freshman, and he gave Miami plenty of reasons for hope for the future. Standing 6-foot-4, 209 pounds, Kaaya showed a solid command of the offense, handling pressure well and showing off touch and accuracy. For the season, he completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 3,198 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 picks, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt and leading the ACC in passer rating at 145.9, just ahead of Jameis Winston. Really, Kaaya was somewhat underappreciated as a freshman. Like just about any young player, his completion percentage was a touch low and his interceptions were high, but his potential is undeniable -- and all but three of those interceptions came in the first six games, when he was still settling into the position. Now, it's a matter of overcoming the losses of the offense's best players: tailback Duke Johnson, tackle Ereck Flowers, receiver Phillip Dorsett and tight end Clive Walford.
12. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati. It took forever for Kiel's career to actually get started. A five-star recruit, he committed to Indiana and LSU before ending up at Notre Dame, and then he transferred to Cincinnati. He finally settled in as the Bearcats starter last season, and it wasn't hard to see why he generated hype out of high school: He hit 59.7 percent for 3,254 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 picks, averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. He threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns against Ohio State, and 355 yards and three touchdowns against Miami (although he threw three picks against the latter). He had his ups and downs, but even though it seems like he's been around forever, he was a first-year starter. He has the chance to grow into a coveted pro quarterback for what will be a prolific Cincinnati offense.
11. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech. Thomas inherited the starting job after Vad Lee transferred, and over the course of the season he developed into a star as a perfect fit for Paul Johnson's option attack. Thomas led the Yellow Jackets to the ACC Coastal title, rushing 190 times for 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns and throwing for 1,719 yards with 18 touchdowns and six picks. As always, the passing game revolved around downfield throws to complement the option game, which is why he averaged 9.2 yards per attempt with a 51.3 percent completion rate. Thomas also played some of his best football against quality defenses, with over 100 rushing yards vs. Virginia Tech, Florida State and Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.
10. Vernon Adams, Oregon. Adams might be the season's biggest individual wild card. He is making the unusual leap from FCS to FBS, taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule to spend his senior season attempting to replace Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Adams starred for Eastern Washington, an FCS power, where he was twice the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award (the FCS version of the Heisman). Last year, he completed 66.1 percent for 3,483 yards with 35 touchdowns and eight touchdowns in 10 games, and he ran 100 times for 285 yards and six touchdowns.
He has twice dazzled against Pac-12 opponents with his FCS supporting cast. In a 2013 win at Oregon State, Adams threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns. In a 2014 loss at Washington (59-52), Adams threw for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. He's undersized at 6-foot, 200 pounds, but he's a quick, elusive player who can move the pocket, throw on the run and improvise when needed. He's not the precision pocket passer that Mariota, but he can still fit into an Oregon scheme that can adapt to him, where he'll be surrounded by some of the nation's best running backs and receivers. Transitioning to the Pac-12 is an unknown, but he has a chance for a special season … assuming he does win the job.
9. Taysom Hill, BYU. You may remember Hill as an early 2014 Heisman candidate, and the guy who torched Texas two years in a row. Hill most memorably ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns in a blowout win over the Longhorns in 2013. Last year, he led the Cougars to a 4-0 start before a season-ending leg injury against Utah State. A healthy Hill returns to face a tall task: BYU's independent schedule, which opens with Nebraska, Boise State, Michigan and UCLA. Survive that, and Hill could re-emerge as a darkhorse Heisman candidate. As the full-time starter in 2013, he ran 246 times for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns and the for 2,938 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 picks. At 6-foot-2, 232 pounds, he's physical and fast, and his passing has improved over his career.
8. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State. At his best, Hackenberg can make throws that no other college quarterback can make. There's a reason that he's still coveted as the possible No. 1 overall pick in the draft, despite last season's frustrations. As always, context is crucial. After a stellar freshman season under Bill O'Brien, Hackenberg faced a 2014 sophomore season with: 1) a new coaching staff; 2) perilous offensive line depth due to NCAA sanctions and the preseason loss of senior guard Miles Dieffenbach; and 3) a receiving corps filled with unproven underclassmen. Hackenberg had his own issues, with sloppy footwork, inconsistent accuracy and problems holding onto the ball too long, but frustrations built over the course of the season as the offensive line struggled to create a pocket and struggled to open holes for the running game, while receivers were inconsistent in getting separation. No, Hackenberg's average of 6.2 yards per attempt, 12 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 109.4 passer rating don't make him look anywhere close to a top-10 quarterback. Independent of the other problems, he didn't play like a top-10 quarterback either. Talent-wise, however, he is one. The offensive line won't be great, but it will be better. The receiving corps has a ton of potential and a year of seasoning. There's another full offseason to adjust to the coaching staff. When Hackenberg is protected, he can be brilliant, and we mostly recently saw him throw for 371 yards and four touchdowns in the Pinstripe Bowl. With a favorable 2015 schedule, Hackenberg has a chance to rebound in a big way.
7. Jared Goff, California. Goff is more than a product of Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid system. The system allows him to throw a ton of passes and rack of a ton of yards, of course, but Goff's talent goes beyond the plug-and-play types we often see in these offensive schemes. He has real NFL potential. In 21 games, he completed 62.1 percent for 3,973 yards (7.8 per attempt) with 35 touchdowns and seven picks, and while the numbers are big, he's still a work in progress with the potential for more. He didn't average more than 6.9 yards per attempt in any of his last five games; he could stand to add some weight to his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame; and his accuracy still needs refining. But all of the tools are there, and he's had a lot of responsibility as the quarterback for a still-developing team that can't stop anyone defensively. With experience returning to the Bears around him, Goff's reputation could take off nationally.
6. Connor Cook, Michigan State. Like Hackenberg, Cook at times can look like the best quarterback in the country. He has a solid arm, and he's capable of fitting fastballs into tight windows, as well as making brilliant downfield throws. He's also streaky with accuracy and decision-making. Michigan State's offense -- with the run as a foundation and downfield throws working off of it -- lends itself to a somewhat lower completion rate, so Cook's 58.1 percentage isn't a surprise. Still, he's the type of quarterback who can blow away the competition for one drive, then miss easy throws the next, as his accuracy on short and mid-range throws can be erratic. With that said, Cook -- with the help of an excellent line -- doesn't take sacks, and despite some bad decisions, he's thrown a total of 14 picks over the last two seasons. He's unquestionably one of the best quarterbacks in the country entering his senior year, although he'll have to overcome rebuilding in the receiving corps and at tailback, with Jeremy Langford, Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery gone. But a senior quarterback and a solid offensive line can go a long way.
5. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State. Prescott was expected to take the Mississippi State offense to another level in his first year as the full-time starter, and he managed to exceed it. Sure, the Bulldogs fell off at the end of the year, but it was still a terrific season, one in which they reached No. 1 in October and Prescott was a Heisman candidate. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior is an excellent fit for Dan Mullen's offense, succeeding as a runner and a play-action passer. He complete 61.6 percent for 3,449 yards (8.7 per attempt) with 27 touchdowns and 11 picks, and he ran 210 times for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns. Mississippi State lost three of its last four games, but it wasn't as if Prescott played poorly down the stretch. However, repeating last season's success does present some challenges, as the line has to be rebuilt and tailback Josh Robinson left for the NFL.
4. Trevone Boykin, TCU. Two years ago, amid a disastrous 4-8 season for TCU in which the offense fell apart, Boykin caught 26 passes for 204 yards and attempted only 176 passes. He almost moved to receiver permanently last year. Then, the light went on. Gary Patterson overhauled the offense, bringing in Air Raid co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, and it paid off in a big way. The offense jumped from 88th to second in scoring. The Frogs jumped from 4-8 to 12-1. And Boykin became a Heisman candidate at quarterback. He completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 3,901 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 picks, and he ran 152 times for 707 yards and eight touchdowns. Boykin was hardly flawless as a passer, as he plenty of room for improvement in the pocket, but he's a dynamic quarterback surrounded by talent, including one of the nation's top receiving corps and offensive lines. No one will be taken by surprise by this offense in 2015, but that won't matter.
3c. Braxton Miller, Ohio State. In 2012, Miller finished fifth in the Heisman vote and was named Big Ten player of the year. He threw for 2,039 yards, 15 touchdowns and six picks, and he ran for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns. Ohio State went 12-0 but didn't get a title shot because of previous NCAA violations. In 2013, Miller finished ninth in the Heisman vote and was named Big Ten player of the year. He threw for 2,094 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven picks, and he ran for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ohio State went 12-2, with losses to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and Clemson in the Orange Bowl. He injured his shoulder in that Orange Bowl, then re-injured it last August, sidelining him for the season. In that time, have we forgotten how good Miller is?
He's not just one of the best running quarterbacks in college football; he's one of the best runners period, with Urban Meyer's offense giving him a perfect chance to maximize that ability. The problem? His style leaves him vulnerable to hits, and now the chief concern is whether the shoulder will ever be 100 percent again. Unlike Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, his NFL future is probably not at quarterback. He's a senior who has done great things for Ohio State, and it seems absurd that he won't be a staring quarterback, if healthy. But that's what makes Ohio State's quarterback battle an impossible decision, and perhaps the greatest "problem" any team has ever faced.
3b. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State. Barrett has been put in such a strange position. He replaced an injured two-time Big Ten player of the year, and after a mostly brilliant season, he broke his leg and was replaced for a national title run by Cardale Jones, who became a star too. As a redshirt freshman, he finished second nationally in passer rating (169.8), completing 64.6 percent for 2,834 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 picks with an average of nine yards per attempt. He also ran 171 times for 938 yards and 11 touchdowns, meaning he would have passed for 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 yards had he stayed healthy. He did have poor passing games against great Virginia Tech and Penn State defenses, but he also threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns on the road at Michigan State, after the offensive line had improved. He's a better passer than Miller and a more explosive runner than Jones. He doesn't have Jones' arm strength, but he's proved to be a terrific distributor and point guard for the offense, in addition to being a dangerous runner in this system. Ohio State would be crazy to sit him this year. But, then again, …
3a. Cardale Jones, Ohio State. Barrett is more consistent, and Miller is the best runner, but Jones proved so much in three games last year that he probably would have been the third quarterback taken in the draft. While Jones lost the battle to replace the injured Miller last year, he still ended up proving that he had matured greatly, on top of owning perhaps the strongest arm in college football. Barrett is a great player who has the most versatile skill set to take advantage of everything the playbook has to offer -- more so than Jones -- but the Ohio State offense reached its peak with Jones at quarterback. To be fair, he played at the end of the season when the offensive line had solidified, but Jones' Tebow-like power-running ability, combined with that arm strength, made the Buckeyes impossible to defend, with tailback Ezekiel Elliott (who returns as a Heisman candidate) becoming a superstar and Devin Smith (who will be tough to replace this fall) becoming unstoppable as a downfield threat.
In leading the Buckeyes to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon, Jones completed 61.3 percent for 742 yards (9.9 yards per attempt) with five touchdowns and two picks, and he proved to be a chain-moving tank as a runner. These were his first-ever starts, against three quality defenses, in a season in which he was expected to be the third-string quarterback. While he's still raw and in a heated quarterback competition, he has benefited from being the only healthy quarterback during the offseason. Jones' talent is still a bit of a projection, but he's earned the hype.
2. Cody Kessler, USC. After an underrated performance during USC's tumultuous 2013 season, Kessler emerged as a star last year as new coach Steve Sarkisian pushed the tempo. Kessler is a perfect fit for what Sarkisian wants to do: He's a smart, poised leader who distributes the ball accurately with impressive timing and rhythm. As a junior, he completed 69.7 percent of his attempts for 3,826 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt with 39 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He's mechanically sound, and while he's not a runner, he has pocket mobility and keeps his eyes downfield in the face of pressure.
Two negatives stand out: He took many sacks last year, and his numbers were inflated against terrible defenses. The first is partially his fault, but expect the number of sacks to decline, given that USC returns all five starters to the line after as many as three freshmen started last year. The second is something that happens to anyone, but Kessler's splits were more noticeable than most: In four games against ranked opponents, he averaged 6.6 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and three picks. In nine games against unranked opponents, he averaged 9.3 yards per attempt with 35 touchdowns and two picks. To compare, Marcus Mariota averaged 8.9 yards per attempt against seven ranked opponents last year. At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Kessler won't wow anyone physically, but mentally he's ahead of anyone else in the country, and even if he doesn't have a huge arm, he's accurate anywhere on the field. With an improved line, he's a Heisman candidate.
1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson. There is danger in letting the hype get out of control. Watson is a sophomore who has started only five games and played in eight. He has missed three games with a broken hand, and he's coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL. He'll be playing behind a questionable offensive line that just unexpectedly lost its best player, left tackle Isaiah Battle, to the supplemental draft. He lost offensive coordinator Chad Morris to SMU. Go ahead, add up the negatives. There are significant caveats here. But it took only three games for Cardale Jones to become a superstar. Sure, those games doubled as the biggest stages of the sport, but Watson's potential is obvious too, and in a season in which there is no clear-cut top quarterback, Watson has the potential to be the best quarterback in college football, even if putting him here now requires a leap of faith.
In the games he played, he completed 67.9 percent for 1,466 yards with 14 touchdowns and two picks, and he ran 63 times for 200 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 10.7 yards per attempt and had a passer rating of 188.6, both of which were higher than Marcus Mariota. He's mature beyond his years as a quarterback, with a command of the offense, a strong arm, confidence, poise and mobility -- all of which he showed the minute he stepped onto the field. If he stays healthy, he's a superstar and a Heisman candidate, whether it's this year or next. Despite the hang-ups entering 2015, it's worth betting on his stardom sooner rather than later.
Honorable mention (alphabetical order): Kyle Allen, Texas A&M; Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska; Mike Bercovici, Arizona State; Blake Frohnapfel, Massachusetts; Drew Hare, Northern Illinois; Matt Johnson, Bowling Green; Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State; Wes Lunt, Illinois; Paxton Lynch, Memphis; Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech; Maty Mauk, Missouri; Anu Solomon, Arizona; Nate Sudfeld, Indiana; Zach Terrell, Western Michigan; Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh
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