Preview 2010 - Big Ten Quarterback Rankings
Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien
The Big Ten should be stronger than it's been in years, and while Terrelle Pryor might get the Heisman recognition on the loaded Buckeyes, Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien might end up being the key to the conference race. Check out the CFN Preview 2010 ranking of the Big Ten quarterbacks.
Preview 2010 - Big Ten
The Top Quarterbacks
- Big Ten Skill Position Rankings
1. Terrelle Pryor, Jr. Ohio State
He appears to be working his way up in the logical progression of a great college quarterback's career having relied on his raw skills as a freshman and expanding his passing abilities last year, completing 57% of his passes for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He completed 61% of his throws for 1,311 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions as a freshman, but he wasn't allowed to do anything that wasn't ultra-safe. After a year and a half of starting experience, he's more in command of the offense now, appears to be quicker with his decision making, and he's ready to open up the attack more to unleash his tremendous arm on more downfield throws. Work-level isn't an issue; he has had problems with a sore arm from overuse working on throw after throw. Toughness isn't an issue; he played hurt at the end of last year and underwent minor knee surgery to clean everything up. This is his team and his season for the taking, and for all the hype and all the promise, he appears ready to be the player everyone has been waiting for. The pressure has gone up ten-fold on his career and the success of the team rest squarely on his shoulders.
2. Scott Tolzien, Sr. Wisconsin
Tolzien might have been the biggest surprise of the Big Ten season. Considered the No. 3 option throughout the 2009 offseason, he came on late, was consistent, and turned into one of the league's best players leading the way in pass efficiency while completing a Wisconsin-record 211 passes for 2,705 yards and 16 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. At 6-3 and 208 pounds, he has good size and just enough mobility to not be a total stick in the mud, but more than anything else he showed off a fearless ability to make key throws. While there were problems against the better teams, throwing two bad, costly picks against Ohio State and three the following week against Iowa, he turned in one of the best passing years in Badger history and proved to be good enough to force teams to respect the air attack and take some of the focus off the ground game.
3. Kirk Cousins, Jr. Michigan State
After going through a quarterback battle last year, and splitting a little bit of time with Keith Nichol, the 6-3, 202-pound junior is the unquestioned starter and the leader of the offense. One of the Big Ten's leading passers, he completed 60% of his throws for 2,680 yards and 19 touchdowns with nine interceptions, and he showed a little bit of mobility netting 60 yards on the year and running for 75 yards against Michigan. With good size and a nice arm, he has the look of a pro-style quarterback who can put the ball anywhere he wants to, and he gets on hot streaks where he gets deadly accurate throwing just one pick over a six-game stretch and completing 22-of-25 throws for 353 yards and two scores against Western Michigan. An honorable mention All-Big Ten pick, he has the talent, the experience, and the tools to be a statistical superstar, and now he has to show he can come through clutch in the big games on a regular basis.
4. Ricky Stanzi, Sr. Iowa
Stanzi isn't pretty, he's inconsistent, and he's not accurate, but he has built his reputation as a winner and a tremendous leader who has a knack for making things happen. While he completed 56% of his throws for 2,417 yards and 17 touchdowns, he also threw 15 interceptions including five against Indiana in a meltdown … before leading the team back for a 42-24 win. He suffered an ankle injury against Northwestern and missed the Ohio State games, and while it's not quite fair to pin the losses on backup James Vandenberg, the defeats only made Stanzi's reputation as a winner get even bigger. At 6-4 and 230 pounds he has great size and a decent enough arm to get a look in an NFL camp, but he's not mobile and he makes way too many mistakes. Yes, he has a magical ability to lead the team back from the brink, but he also has a habit of digging the hole in the first place.
5. Ben Chappell, Sr. Indiana
The big question going into last season was whether or not Chappell could handle the workload taking over for the enigmatic Kellen Lewis. He was fine when he got his chance as a sophomore, and he blossomed as a junior completing 63% of his passes for 2,941 yards and 17 touchdowns. While he's great at driving his throws down the field and he's always pressing and always trying to make the key play, he also is prone to mistakes throwing 15 picks including eight in the last four games. At 6-3 and 239 pounds he has nice size and a live arm, but he's not all that mobile. While he ran for three scores, he's not going to run for positive yards on a regular basis.
6. Tate Forcier, Soph. Michigan
It's easy to gloss over that Forcier was a true freshman. The 6-1, 194-pound sophomore out of San Diego is a fantastic fit for the Rich Rodriguez offense, and he looked the part over the first half of last year coming up clutch in the win over Notre Dame and rallying the team back from the brink to force overtime in the loss to Michigan State. But in a key game against Iowa, he got dinged up and didn't get on the field late, and the team was never quite the same. A baller, he might have made a slew of rookie mistakes, but he also threw for more than 200 yards in five games including three of the last four. He finished the season completing 59% of his throws for 2,290 yards and 13 touchdowns with ten picks, throwing four in the season ending loss to Ohio State, and he ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns. While he has the experience and the team lived through the freshman season, he needed to prove himself this offseason and he looked solid as a dual-threat playmaker. Consistency is the key, but leading the way to wins is all he'll be judged on.
7. Adam Weber, Sr. Minnesota
It has been a long , interesting career for Weber, a 6-3, 220-pound senior who started as a freshman and has completed 57% of his career passes for 8,238 yards and 52 touchdowns with 42 interceptions, and he has rushed for 717 yards and ten scores. After starting out his career as a dangerous dual-threat playmaker, he became more of a passer and then struggled last year with a change in styles and with no help around him. He had to show this offseason that he deserved another chance after sputtering with a 13-touchdown, 15-pick 2009, with 416 of his 2,582 yards and five of the scores coming against Michigan State, and he did just enough to keep the gig. Very tough with a good arm and the mobility to do more on the move, he has to use all his tools and all his experience to carry the Gopher offense. He can't afford to have another underwhelming year.
8. Robert Marve, Jr. Purude
Marve has had a star-crossed career and is looking to finally show that he was worth all the hype. A superstar recruit for Miami, and supposedly the next big Hurricane quarterback, he was a disaster on and off the field with a few legal issues and academic troubles to go along with just nine touchdown passes with 13 interceptions in 2008. He's not all that big at 6-1 and 210 pounds, but he has a live arm and decent mobility. While this might seem like a new start, he's not a sure thing to take over the job and he still has to prove himself. Staying healthy would be a plus after tearing his ACL last year in practice, and he has to show he can handle adversity.
9. Dan Persa, Jr. Northwestern
Taking over for Philadelphia Eagle draft pick, Mike Kafka, is Persa, a 6-1, 210-pound dual-threat option with a little bit of experience and good upside. While he's not Kafka as a passer, he showed this offseason that he's ready to become a major producer on his own with nice touch and great running skills. He was the first player in Pennsylvania high school history to run for over 1,000 yards and throw for over 2,000 in the same season, and now he'll get his shot to hold down the gig for the next two years after completing 20-of-34 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, and running for 167 yards, in a limited time last year. Very fast, he makes up for his lack of a big arm with great speed.
10. Kevin Newsome, Soph. Penn State
It might take a while, and there will be some big mistakes along the way, but Newsome looks the part with 6-2, 220-pound size, good smarts, and natural leadership skills. Now he has to show he can throw a forward pass. A good athlete with a live arm, the tools are there, but he wasn't accurate in practices this offseason and he didn't do enough to keep the offense moving. The upside is immense and he has a little bit of experience completing 8-of-11 throws in a limited time last year while adding 95 rushing yards, but early on he won't get to open up the playbook and will be more of a runner than a smooth, polished passer.
11. Nathan Scheelhaase, RFr. Illinois
Scheelhaase came to Illinois to be a dual-threat, spread quarterback. While his talents don't necessarily mesh with what new offensive coordinator wants to do, he was by far the best quarterback throughout the offseason before struggling in the spring game. At 6-3 and 195 pounds, he has good size and the running skills to be one of the Big Ten's most dangerous playmakers on the move. The 2007 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year will still have to fight for the starting job, but it's his for the taking.
12. Denard Robinson, Soph. Michigan Robinson play? That was the big question before spring ball as the 6-0, 188-pound sophomore appeared to be the No. 2 man at quarterback at best and with the coaching staff wanted to get his athleticism (he was a Florida state-champion level sprinter) on the field. But Robinson came up with a tremendous offseason looking like a more polished passer after completing just 45% of his throws for 188 yards and two touchdowns with 14 interceptions, to go along with 351 rushing yards and five scores as the backup. With 4.32 40-yard speed and a good arm, he'll be used from time to time as more than just a runner.