When ranking the top returning College Football quarterbacks the pollsters agree on one thing; USC’s Matt Barkley is No.1. Who else will turn heads in the upcoming College Football season, and who could lead the way to a National Title?
Matt Barkley, the Trojans talented signal caller, borrowed from Andrew Luck’s
playbook and bypassed NFL millions for one more shot at a national
title. Barkley is also the early college football betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.
After throwing for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdowns last season, Barkley
gave considerable thought to turning pro. He would have been a first-rounder,
possibly a Top 5 selection and likely the third QB taken behind Luck and RG3.
Now, barring injury, he’ll be at or near the top of the QB wish list in the
2013 NFL draft.
Barkley’s decision to return to the Trojans gives them a
legitimate shot at a national title. USC’s two-year bowl ban is over and with
most of its core returning, this may be the Trojans best shot at winning a
title until the scholarship reductions are over in three years.
A closer look at the list of returning QB’s reveals a bevy of
Aaron Murray of Georgia
Some might be surprised that Murray is this high on the list, but
I’m not one of them. The junior has put together back-to-back impressive
seasons, throwing for nearly 6,200 yards and 59 touchdowns in that span. One
significant factor that favors Murray’s chances of having a banner year is the
fact that Georgia will miss facing the stifling and suffocating defenses of LSU
and Alabama thanks to a scheduling quirk that heavily favors the Dawgs.
If Murray can sustain the improvement he’s shown from year-to-year, he’ll
be mentioned in the Heisman conversation.
Denard Robinson of Michigan
The college football world fell in love
with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III who was the best running and
throwing QB in the country. Michigan’s Denard Robinson is a poor man’s version
of RG3. After a sensational breakout freshman year, Robinson regressed last
season. When he brings his ‘A’
game, Robinson can be one of the most exciting players in the country. The
key for him is to avoid the vicious open field hits and stay healthy.
Tajh Boyd of Clemson
Boyd was a perfect fit for the
high-powered offense of Chad Morris. With his top two running backs
returning-- Sammy Watkins and 1,000-yard rusher
Andre Ellington — Boyd’s second year as a starter sets up to be a good one.
Keith Price of Washington
Usually, one game doesn’t make a quarterback. But wow what a
performance Washington’s Keith Price turned in against Griffin and Baylor in
the Alamo Bowl. Price accounted for seven touchdowns — four passing, three
rushing — and 477 yards of total offense. While it was far and away
Price’s best performance of the season, it was the capper to a solid,
under-the-radar year for the first-year starter. Take it from a media
guy; the new television contracts for the Pac-12 will give Price and Barkley
some additional exposure nationally.
Tyler Wilson of Arkansas
He would have been a first-round pick had he left after this
season, but decided to return to and win an SEC championship for the first time
at Arkansas. Good luck.
He’s big and strong (6-3, 220 pounds) and is playing in a pro-style
system. The Razorbacks throw the ball like crazy and that will help Wilson put
up some big numbers. He’s only played one full season and half so this will be
a big year for him.
Landry Jones of Oklahoma
Like Barkley, Jones unexpectedly returned for another season.
Unlike Barkley, Jones is coming off a 2011 season that left many members of
Sooner Nation wishing he hadn’t returned.
There are a few reasons with Jones decision to return could
backfire on him. He won’t have his passing-game security blanket, Ryan
Broyles and with QB Blake Bell seeing increased playing time as last
season progressed, Jones could be a bad game or an interception away from
losing his starting job.
The numbers don’t lie. Over the final four games of the season,
Jones threw just one touchdown pass while Bell accounted for 10 scores on the
ground. If that trend continues into 2012, Jones will become a mere
footnote in the Heisman discussion.
Other notables: Tyler Bray (Tennessee), Mike Glennon (North Carolina State),
James Franklin Jr. (Missouri), Geno Smith (West Virginia).