This is the first in a series of FanBuzz posts that will rank various things heading into the 2015 college football season. This will conclude a combination of position rankings, conference power rankings, and an overall preseason power rankings.
We start off by ranking the top five quarterbacks in college football, with some honorable mentions thrown in as well.
1. Trevone Boykin, TCU
2014 stats: 13 G, 3,901 pass yards, 61.2% completion, 33 TDs, 10 INT
152 rush attempts, 707 rush yards, 4.65 YPC, 8 TDs
Boykin emerged from relative obscurity last season, leading TCU to a 12-1 record and a 42-3 win in the Peach Bowl against Ole Miss. The Horned Frogs do have increased expectations this season, but Boykin returns with the help of most of last season’s supporting cast.
Boykin does have good speed on the ground, but he prefers to use it more to the benefit of his passing game over gaining yards on the ground. This also translates to TCU’s success last season, as the team usually did better when Boykin was able to establish his passing game and not trying to scramble for yards. TCU would much rather Boykin throw for 4,000 yards than gain 1,000 on the ground.
2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
2014 stats: 12 G, 2,834 pass yards, 64.6% completion, 34 TDs, 10 INT
171 rush attempts, 938 yards, 5.49 YPC, 11 TDs
Before Braxton Miller decided to change positions to wide receiver, Barrett was probably getting the least publicity out of all three Ohio State quarterbacks, which was odd because he is most likely the best of the three, both passing and running wise.
Barrett’s ankle injury that ended his stellar season last year was particularly awful, but he should be completely recovered by the time the season starts. The sophomore also has plenty of time to improve, so while Cardale Jones may be a great option, expect Barrett to win out the Buckeye quarterback battle and establish himself as one of the best quarterbacks in football.
3. Connor Cook, Michigan State
2014 stats: 13 G, 3,215 pass yards, 58.1% completion, 26 total TDs, 8 INT
Cook may be the most professionally ready quarterback in all of college football. He is not overly imposing with any of his physical attributes, but he reads the field extremely well and is a textbook game manager under center.
The challenges for Cook this season? He lost his top running back in Jeremy Langford and his top wide receiver in Tony Lippett to the NFL. Michigan State will have the talent to help fill those loss, but it will be Cook’s time to step up and shine as Michigan State hopes for another New Year’s Day bowl appearance.
4. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
2014 stats: 8G, 1,466 pass yards, 67.9% completion, 19 total TDs, 2 INT
Watson was having an extremely impressive freshman season before he finally succumbed to an ACL injury. But in his limited time, Watson made one thing extremely clear: Clemson is a much, much better team when he takes the field. Watson can be explosive in the passing game and he has the talent around him at Clemson to really have a special season… if he can outlast the injuries.
5. Cody Kessler, USC
2014 stats: 13 G, 3,826 pass yards, 69.7% completion, 39 TDs, 5 INT
Kessler had a strong sophomore season in 2013 statistically, but he really came out of nowhere in 2014 by putting up some monster numbers while leading the Trojans to a 9-4 season. He was one of the most efficient passers in 2014, but somewhat buried due to the attention Marcus Mariota was drawing in Oregon.
Kessler will have all of that attention this season, though, as many expect him to potentially lead USC into the College Football Playoff. If he wants that to happen, he’s going to have to duplicate the passing efficiency he has last year… and then some.
Honorable mentions: Cardale Jones, Ohio State; Dak Prescott, Mississippi State; Jeremy Johnson, Auburn; Christian Hackenberg, Penn State; Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech; Jared Goff, California