The top Group of Five quarterbacks of 2017 include the usual stats producers, but also a Heisman contender and multiple players capable of capturing the attention of NFL scouts.
The Group of Five and Independents have long been the stomping ground for prolific passers, from Houston’s Case Keenum and Boise State’s Kellen Moore to Marshall’s Rakeem Cato and Fresno State’s Derek Carr. These six enclaves of second-tier programs have also often been ideal detours for talented Power Five hurlers seeking a fresh start. The upcoming 2017 season will be no different than the past, with a cadre of playmakers determined to set records, win games and enhance their profiles, both among college fans and pro scouts.
Top Returning Group Of Five, Independent QBs
10. Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
9. Nick Stevens, Colorado State
8. Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame
7. Kyle Allen, Houston
6. Riley Ferguson, Memphis
5. Mike White, Western Kentucky
White faced the seemingly impossible task of replacing record-setting Hilltopper QB Brandon Doughty in 2016, yet he exceeded all expectations. In his first year after transferring from South Florida, White kept WKU humming by throwing for 4,363 yards, 37 touchdowns and only seven picks. Plus, he set a school-record for single-season passing efficiency, displaying nice touch and accuracy, and he’s still ascending as a quarterback. Sure, losing Jeff Brohm to Purdue hurts, but new head coach Mike Sanford has also made a living out of coaching up young passers.
4. Brett Rypien, Boise State
When the Broncos landed Rypien in 2015, it was one of the splashiest signings in school history. So far, he’s lived up to the hype. Rypien is a two-year starter, improving his numbers to 244-of-394 for 3,646 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was sixth nationally in yards per attempt and No. 15 in passing efficiency. But even after twice being named First Team All-Mountain West, Rypien wants a whole lot more as a junior, namely guiding Boise State back to winning titles despite losing star RB Jeremy McNichols and WR Thomas Sperbeck.
3. Logan Woodside, Toledo
Even the most optimistic Rocket fan couldn’t have predicted last season for Woodside. After redshirting in 2015, his third year in Toledo, he positively erupted into one of the country’s most prolific passers last fall. Woodside triggered the attack by completing 289-of-418 passes for 4,129 yards, a nation’s-high 45 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions. The model of consistency and poise threw at least three scoring strikes in every regular season game before being limited to two in the Camellia Bowl with Appalachian State.
2. Josh Allen, Wyoming
Allen will be one of the most interesting players in college football in 2017. He’s hardly a household name, unless that household includes an NFL scout or GM, at which time he’s firmly on the radar. The 6-foot-5, 222-pounder fits the prototype of a next-level quarterback, even considering the jump following his redshirt sophomore season in Laramie. Raw? Yup. But he has the arm talent, field vision of a former point guard and competiveness to blossom into a nationally known star by December. Allen threw 15 picks and only completed 56% of his throws, so his development as a distributor and a decision-maker will be watched closely as Wyoming breaks in new receivers.
1. Quinton Flowers, South Florida
While others have a higher NFL ceiling, Flowers is, hands-down, the top Group of Five quarterback entering 2017. He’s the embodiment of a dangerous dual-threat under center, finishing second to Heisman winner Lamar Jackson in rushing by a quarterback with 1,530 yards and 18 touchdowns on 198 carries. However, Flowers is also blooming as a passer, making it doubly difficult to corral him. As a junior, he was 16th nationally in passing efficiency, throwing for 2,812 yards, 24 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Flowers will be a Heisman contender for as long as he keeps the Bulls unbeaten.