The college football season is about to start its various conference media days, which means that coaches will begin to talk about their players and the kinds of teams they think they have this season. Player evaluations figure into that process, so why not look at the best players at various positions? Here, consider the best quarterbacks in the non-power conferences, also referred to as the Group of Five conferences.
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
When looking at the best quarterback in a conference, realize that the departures of previous quarterbacks from the past season will affect the rankings. One generally has to base rankings on past performance instead of projections of potential. Given that structure and framework, it’s very hard to think of any quarterback other than Stockstill as the best in Conference USA. Mike White does return for Western Kentucky – he is Stockstill’s only competition – but he loses his two best and most productive receivers from last season, plus a vital running back. He will also be without former coach Jeff Brohm, who got the most out of his potential when the two worked together. Brohm is now the head coach at Purdue, so White faces a transitional year on a number of levels. Stockstill’s dad, Rick, is the head coach at Middle Tennessee, making MTSU a very comfortable environment for him. Stockstill should rise to the top in Conference USA.
Logan Woodside, Toledo Rockets
This is a situation that’s very similar to Conference USA. Zach Terrell of Western Michigan and Cooper Rush of Central Michigan were great MAC quarterbacks last year, but their college careers are over, so by process of elimination, Woodside is clearly the best of what is left in the MAC. Toledo is always willing to air it out on offense, so Woodside should again be able to load up on stats and production. The MAC West is the explosive division in the MAC, while the East is extremely impotent and based more on defense. Woodside is an easy choice.
Quinton Flowers, South Florida Bulls
The American Athletic Conference
Greg Ward of Houston was a special quarterback in his career, but in 2016, Flowers was legitimately better in the process of leading South Florida to 11 wins. Now that Ward is in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Flowers is clearly the best quarterback in the American Athletic Conference, though Riley Ferguson of Memphis is the one quarterback who could potentially give him a run for the money at that position. Ferguson is a quality passer, but Flowers can run and throw equally well. He should have a huge season and maybe make a run at the Heisman Trophy.
Josh Allen, Wyoming Cowboys
Mountain West Conference
Brett Rypien of Boise State offers strong competition, but that’s about it. San Diego State, the back-to-back defending champion in the Mountain West, is a run-based team with a conservative offense. Wyoming and Boise State are willing to take a lot more chances. Allen and Rypien are both turnover-prone, but Allen gets another year to fine-tune his game under head coach Craig Bohl. He should be able to prepare for an NFL Combine in which he could be a top-five NFL Draft selection next year.
Wyoming finished 8-6 overall but was 6-2 in conference play, which tied them with Boise State and New Mexico for the best record overall.
Brandon Silvers, Troy Trojans
Sun Belt Conference
The Troy Trojans have an aggressive offense under head coach Neal Brown, and Silvers should be the beneficiary. Other good teams in the league, including Arkansas State and Appalachian State, are more balanced on offense. Troy is the team which will depend on its quarterback to a greater degree. Silvers is in position to enjoy a successful 2017.
Troy finished third in the Sun Belt conference last year, going 6-2 in conference play while tying Appalachian State for the most wins overall (10). They’ll need another strong year from Silvers if they’re to maintain their standing as one of the team teams in the Sun Belt.
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