The Top QBs in College Football: a non-statistical analysis

Highest entertainment value: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

How do you start any list of the top college football QBs without Johnny Football? He is the never-ending, twitter-spawned, hype machine that is enveloping the country. The craziest thing about him is he’s not even playing the same sport as everyone else! Seriously, what percentage of pass plays does he run that actually pan-out how they’re designed? 17% sound like a good scientific number. He is out there playing Three Flies Up, or maybe Red Rover, and possibly Kill the Pill all at the same time. And that is just what he does on the field. His off the field transgressions, if you can even call them that, add more flair to the ridiculous stuff he does on the field. Watching Manziel tear teams apart is like watching Jackie Chan Drunken Master his way through the UFC. It is ridiculous and maddening, but you just can’t look away. 


Heisman Watch: 2nd place thanks to curmudgeonly sports writers, but wins Dancing with the Stars next season
NFL Draft stock: Supplemental Draft, a-la Terrell Pryor
Arrest Watch: Vigilant
Entertainment Value: Siegfried and Roy

The best QB you don’t know (or maybe are just getting to know slowly because you recently got out of a long-term relationship): Bryce Petty, Baylor

Another Big 12 QB makes the list- wait...damn re-alignment. I picked Mr. Petty without looking at his Wikipedia page first and the lack of information there has me perturbed. This guy is putting up video game numbers this year and his Wiki page is sparse like Dust Bowl harvest. Bryce William Petty (born May 31, 1991) is an American football quarterback for the Baylor Bear...Ok but what about the 338 yards and 3 TDs (1 rushing) he dropped on Buffalo? Petty attended Midlothian High School in Midlothian, Texas. He was ranked by as the 25th best pro-style quarterback recruit. Awesome, but what about 351 yards and 4 TDs he threw against Louisiana-Monroe? The Bears put up 35 points in the first quarter of that game! So far on the season this guy is completing 72% of his passes for 1348 yards and 10 touchdowns, to just one interception. He has also led the Baylor Bears to three consecutive 70 scoring efforts, admittedly against some cupcakes, but still... You may not know him yet, but you will by the time the season is over.


Heisman Watch: Sneaks into the ceremony, but people just assume he belongs there
NFL Draft Stock: Swinging on the RGIII pendulum (1st-4th round, 2015)
Arrest Watch: Anything can happen in Texas
Entertainment Value: Peyton Manning on SNL

Most Awesome nickname backed up with on-field performances: “Jaboo” or Famous Jameis (pronounced Jay-Mess) Winston, Florida State

This guy has slowly become my favorite college football player (actually 2nd favorite to bleach blonde mullet guy from University of Nevada). It only takes a single game or a single press conference to fall in love with this QB. He somehow manages to have “swagger” (I hate that word, and yet here it is) while remaining humble. I don’t know how else to describe it other than point out that he “gets it.” He manages to be social media savvy without crossing any lines, he charms the media into forgetting that he’s not really saying anything of significance (i.e. avoids cliché press conference lines while essentially says the same things, just with better delivery), and he carries himself with endearing style both on the field and off. Not to mentions he’s putting up some monster stats and making some ridiculous throws. I’m so high on this guy I firmly believe he will lead the Cleveland Browns to a Super Bowl someday.


Heisman Watch: Dark horse
NFL Draft Stock: #1 Overall Pick on 2015
Arrest Watch: Unlikely as long as he doesn’t hit anybody while throwing footballs over houses
Entertainment Value: Dream date with Joseph Gordon Levitt

QB with the best financial advice: Kevin Hogan, Stanford

Kevin Hogan will never put up big numbers at Stanford. He is “Andrew Luck Light,” even if he might be more physically talented. Hogan has a bigger arm than Luck and looks to be a bit quicker and more elusive in the open field. The only thing holding him back from all the accolades that come with “best pro prospect” label is that he plays at Stanford. As hard to believe as it is, the Stanford offense got even more conservative under David Shaw. 3rd and 9? Draw play. 3rd and 7? Draw play. It gets maddening watching Stanford win close games when they should outscore their opponents by 40. The game against Washington was a perfect example. The Huskies climbed back into that game because the Cardinal went into boring mode. That game was begging to be opened up in the 3rd quarter, but Shaw seemed content to play for field position. Despite the limitations of his offense Hogan probably made scouts drool with his 2nd quarter touchdown pass to Ty Montgomery. Hogan zipped a 30 yard pass just over the defender, who Montgomery had beaten by about a step, along the sideline. It was a pass Peyton Manning wishes he could throw. Hogan will always lose publicity to Winston, Manziel, Mariotta, and even Bridgewater, but he may end up having the best NFL career of the bunch.


Heisman Watch: Unless he gets a nickname like “Heaving Hogan” or “Killer Kevin,” he’s probably watching the ceremony from home
NFL Draft Stock: 2015 1st round pick
Arrest Watch: Rumors of insider trading (that I just started)
Entertainment Value: Beige

Most likely to put you to sleep when speaking: AJ McCarron, Alabama

OMG AJ McCarron is soooooooooooooo boring. He is so boring that his ex-girlfriend provides more entertaining headlines. His press conferences read like a Hannah Arendt novel; alas, this is the life of an Alabama quarterback. Nick Saban must do this on purpose, right? His ego is so vast that he only recruits “company men” to line up under center for the Tide. Alabama’s legacy is rife with great quarterbacks: Joe Namath, Bart Starr, and Ken Stabler were entertaining enough in their day. Although, most of the entertainment I get from Stabler is knowing he was on the losing end of the “Immaculate Reception.” In fact, I would rather make this blurb about Ken Stabler. Ugh, AJ will go undefeated and probably win Alabama’s 900th straight National Championship. He will do it by not turning the ball over and making good short and intermediate throws. Once again I will be asleep by half-time.


Heisman watch: Name recognition gets him in the door
NFL Draft Stock: Late round pick who ends up pushing Teddy Bridgewater for playing time because dumb fans demand dumb things; also, because an anonymous insider (read: racist) labels Bridgewater as “lazy”
Arrest Watch: None
Entertainment Value: Not redeeming

QBs their coach wishes he could combine into a single player like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly: Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter, Northwestern

I am kind of cheating with this one because there are two of them. One does it with his arm and the other with his legs. If you combine their stats the line looks like: 73% completions, 1278 yards, 9 touchdowns to 5 interceptions, plus 280 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. Compare that to Manziel’s 2013 season line of 71% completions 1489 yards, 14 touchdowns to 4 interceptions, and 314 yards rushing with 3 touchdowns... eerie. The drawback is, like Louisiana-Monroe (who has an even crazier system where 2 QBs line-up on every play), when one guy goes down the offense sputters. This was evident when the Wildcats played at Cal to open the season and almost lost.


Heisman Watch: One trophy can’t go to two guys, unless...
NFL Draft Stock: Training camp invitations
Arrest Watch: Um, no. This category is really only necessary for Manziel and the next guy on the list
Entertainment Value: Miley Cyrus-A$AP Rocky mash-up

Best QB to have previously plead guilty to sexual battery: Zach Mettenberger, LSU

Did you know Zach Mettenberger went to Georgia for his freshman year of college? And, did you know that he got drunk, groped a woman at a bar and was arrested; eventually pleading guilty to sexual battery before getting kicked off the team? All of this happened while his mom was employed by the athletic department too! Awkward... Now the young gunslinger seems to have got his act in order and he’s starting to look like a true-blue quarterback. After struggling with his accuracy last season he’s putting up great numbers in a tough SEC right now. Everything, outside of the close loss to Georgia, seems to be peachy in Baton Rouge; that is until Les Miles makes some weird in-game decisions that drop LSU a game and suddenly they’re heading for a second tier bowl game (like the Peach Bowl! Get it?)

Heisman Watch: None
NFL Draft Stock: 3rd round
Arrest Watch: Ben Roethlisberger
Entertainment Value: Eli Manning on SNL

Poor guy that tanked off the NFL radar but will end-up starting a few games for the Jaguars four years from now: David Fales, San Jose State

David Fales was looking like one of the better pocket passing quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. He’s got the professional arm strength and last year he showed excellent accuracy, but this year he’s regressed a little bit. He seems to be a little bit of  a Mike Glennon type character who got some preseason buzz within draft scout circles, but fell off the radar thanks to a non-premier schedule and a series of lackluster performances. Somewhere out there, I’m sure, is some executive still in love with this guy’s talents who will use a draft pick on him.


Heisman watch: Server for the catering company
NFL Draft Stock: Imploding
Arrest Watch: Minimal
Entertainment Value: Maya Angelou reading the ACA

QB you wish you could watch every Saturday but only plays late games on the West Coast: Marcus Mariotta, Oregon

Oregon is still Oregon and Marcus Mariotta is tearing up the West Coast right now. All you Easterners with your strong regional accents probably have hardly watched him because his games are on at unreasonable East Coast hours. It also doesn’t help that the Ducks have played a pretty cupcake schedule to start the season. But Mariotta had his national coming out party with Washington and Stanford is looming on the schedule. I actually feel bad for Mariotta. He is putting up video game like numbers and the biggest news out of Oregon is their new training facility.


Heisman watch: Current favorite
NFL Draft Stock: Chip Kelly punts Vick and picks Mariotta in the 1st round 
Arrest Watch: Eugene is pretty boring...Come on, it’s called Eugene
Entertainment Value: EA Sports NCAA Football 2004

Most likely to fly under the radar straight into the #1 NFL Draft pick: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Teddy Bridgewater is an interesting case. As it stands now he is the consensus #1 pick but he has not really done anything of note this season. Yeah, Louisville is undefeated and he’s thrown 14 TDs to just one interception, but flashier players like Manziel and Famous Jameis are getting more attention. Maybe that works out best for Bridgewater. Despite being the neo-prototypical QB he is much more substance than style. The reasons for this could be any number of things: the offense he plays in, his personal demeanor, or the fact the Louisville’s conference is a joke. It also has not helped that the Cardinals are not blowing out lesser competition. Either way he is out of the public spotlight... maybe permanently when he ends up in Jacksonville.

Heisman Watch: Top 5
NFL Draft Stock: Unfortunately, #1 overall pick to Jacksonville
Arrest Watch: Unlikely
Entertainment Value: Lennox Lewis


Wait, that guy leads the FBS in yards and TDs!?!: Sean Mannion, Oregon State

Mannion already has 21 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions! He’s not on pace to unseat Colt Brennan but, very quietly, he’s putting up a monster season.


Heisman Watch: Signature game during an upset over Oregon could get him an invitation
NFL Draft Stock: Rising
Arrest Watch: Does anything happen in Corvallis?
Entertainment Value: “General” Larry Platt at the American Idol auditions


Written by
Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021. One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines. Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide. Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports. Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.