In college football, it’s easy to get overlooked at any position but especially at the quarterback position. This year there are plenty of great quarterback ranging from Johnny Manziel, Tahj Boyd, Jameis Winston, AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Bryce Petty and many more. However, there are always some good under the radar quarterbacks that fall under the cracks.
I mean think about it, how many so-called “football fans” really knew who Colin Kaepernick was while he played at Neveda. Most people doubted Russell Wilson even though he came from the Big Ten conference team in Wisconsin. Then don’t get me started on quarterback Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, there are still “football fans” who can’t name what college both players went to.
So I wanted to take the time to discuss some of the under the radar quarterbacks you may not know about right now in college football because trust me there are plenty of them.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois is definitely an under the radar quarterback despite having a phenomenal junior season last year. He offers dual threat ability but still has the ability offer pocket presence. Earlier this season, in a win against Central Michigan, he broke the NCAA record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback when he rushed for 316 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. On top of that he seems to be a natural leader and once again is trying to put his team in a position for another BCS berth. The only knock against him, is his average arm-strength and there are also concerns about his height seeing that he is 6’0 but he still is an impressive quarterback even if it’s not against the most impressive competition in the MAC Conference.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois is another quarterback not receiving enough credit, mainly because he plays for Eastern Illinois. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he is a good quarterback. He has good pocket awareness and presence and if you add that with his good decision-making, you have yourself a solid quarterback. However, similar to Lynch, he doesn’t have the best arm strength and moving forward he will need to work on his accuracy because moving forward to the NFL, he has to be able to throw accurate passes into tight spaces.
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton of Utah State was one of my favorite quarterbacks this season that not enough people knew about. Unfortunately his season was cut shot after he suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this season in October. However, it doesn’t change the fact that this young man has a bright future. The fortunate thing about his injury is that he is only a junior, so he has an opportunity come back from his injury. Keeton is another dual threat quarterback, he has shown the ability to make plays out in the open field, however he does have a tendency to scramble to much. As a passer, he is still growing but he’s definitely an accurate passer. He has good pocket presence, is always aware of pressure. He also isn’t afraid to throw the ball in tight spaces but he also understand how to read defenses and does good job being accurate and putting good velocity on the ball. He may have to put some weight on moving forward and continue working on his game but his senior year looks bright if he can bounce back.
Quarterback Blake Bortles of University of Central Florida is still an under the radar quarterback in my mind despite leading UCF to a huge upset win against Louisville earlier this season. When it comes to Bortles, he is someone who has shown the ability to be one of the better quarterbacks in college football, however I think he would be smart to come back for his senior season next year. Bortles is a good-sized quarterback and is a very consistent passer, he has a good release along with good velocity on the ball. He doesn’t panic under pressure and does a good job of spreading the ball around and not telegraphing. There is no doubt that he is a confident with good leadership skills. Nonetheless, as I said earlier, I think he would be smart to come back for his senior year, he still needs to work on his pocket presence and awareness but if he comes back, look out for him.
Quarterback Derek Carr of Fresno State is somewhat of a shock when it comes to the fact that he is still an underrated quarterback. Just like Lynch, he had an impressive junior season yet he still remains an under the radar quarterback. He has great size at 6’3 and has shown the ability to be a leader. He is extremely efficient already throwing 32 touchdowns and only four interceptions. His pocket awareness has improved since last year along with mobility. As I mentioned earlier, he has become an even better leader which has allowed him to become more poise as well and make better decisions when passing the ball.
Quarterback David Fales of San Jose State is someone who many people don’t know about. He led the San Jose State to their first-ever ranking in the BCS system. Last season, he threw for 4,193 and 33 touchdown, he even led the nation in completion percentage at 72%. At 6’3 and 220 pounds, he is an extremely accurate quarterback. He understand where to place the ball and where only his receiver can make a play. He also has good pocket presence, the ability to avoid pressure but he keep his eyes down field and knows how to make the correct reads before and after the snap. He get’s knocked because he isn’t the most athletic, he also doesn’t have the best arm strength, but there is no doubt he is good college quarterback who doesn’t get enough credit.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato of Marshall plays for small but historic FBS program but he is still a legit college quarterback that not enough people talk about. He may be undersized at 6-foot but he is still a promising quarterback. He has the ability to move around a lot in the open field and make defenders miss. He has a strong-arm and is not afraid to make the big throw and execute on the big play. The main thing he really needs to do is work on his decision-making. He has tendency to always want to make the big play and sometimes that means forcing a pass. Other than that, he has a bright future and more people need to take notice.
Quarterback Brett Smith of Wyoming is one interesting quarterback. At 6’3 and 205 pounds, he is extremely impressive, he has good athleticism and agility which allows him to be extremely mobile in the open field but his size makes him even harder to take down. He also has great arm strength, when it comes to throwing the deep ball, he has the ability to control the pass and place the ball exactly where it needs to be. He may have a strong-arm but don’t misunderstand, he can also succeed throwing short and intermediate passes, he puts good velocity and accuracy on the ball, he just needs to get in the hang of throwing those zip passes which will help him at the next level. Your also talking about a smart quarterback when it comes to Smith, he makes good decisions with the ball, has good pocket presence and makes a point to keep his eyes down the field.
So as you can see, there are plenty under the radar quarterbacks in college football and I can definitely tell you that these young men, aren’t the only ones, there are plenty more that I didn’t get a chance to break down such as Kolton Browning (UL Monroe), Keith Wenning (Ball State) and many more. Just remember that there are great players in college football, in the big and small conferences, it’s time to wake up and pay attention.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com