Two words. Marcus Mariota.
If you are a football fan, you know the name. The University of Oregon quarterback had a stellar senior season that was topped off by winning the 2014 Heisman Trophy Award.
Out of 445 attempted passes, he only had 4 interceptions. He threw for 42 touchdowns and 4,454 yards. His ability to run the ball did not go unnoticed either. He ran for 770 yards and had 15 rushing touchdowns.
Mariota led his team to wins in the PAC-12 Championship against the Arizona Wildcats and in the Rose Bowl against the unbeaten Florida State Seminoles. Although the Ducks could not pull off the win in the National Championship against Ohio State, the work Mariota put in all season did not go unnoticed.
In the 2015 draft, Mariota was selected second overall to the Tennessee Titans. He is already one of the most popular NFL players, and he hasn’t even played a down yet. Mariota’s jersey is the top seller for the NFL for the month of May.
With the college football season rapidly approaching, the question is who will rise as the next greatest quarterback? One thing’s for sure – they have pretty big shoes to fill.
Cody Kessler (USC)
Leading an offense that’s expected to be one of the best in the nation, a lot of eyes will be on fifth-year senior Cody Kessler. During the 2014 season, Kessler put up big numbers under Coach Sarkisian’s offense. He threw for 3,826 yards, 39 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. He is efficient and has well-timed passes. According to Dan Hope of Bleacher Report, “More important than Kessler’s deep ball, which is not awe-striking but still effective, is his ability to fit intermediate throws with precise timing in between tight windows.” Kessler’s odds to win the 2015 Heisman are 12-1.
Trevone Boykin (TCU)
Boykin is coming into this season with some hype to live up to. It could be due to the fact that he is one of four football players to be on the cover of the ESPN College Football Preview. Or, it could have something to do with his record breaking season last year in Texas. Boykin threw for 3,901 yards, 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. With these numbers he broke the records at TCU for single season touchdown passes, total passing yards and total offensive yards. According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, “Although he lacks ideal height, Boykin has terrific physical gifts with explosive athleticism and above average arm strength.” With a solid line protecting him, Boykin looks to break records again.
Connor Cook (MICH ST)
Cook did not declare for the draft and will go back to Michigan State for his senior year. Last season he threw for 3,214 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He will need to find targets on his offense with his go-to man, Tony Lippett gone. Cook struggles with his downfield accuracy and needs to improve on his footwork. NFL Draft analyst Chad Reuter describes Cook as having, “the prerequisite size, athleticism, anticipation, toughness and football intelligence to excel at the next level.” Once he tweaks a couple things in his game, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Dak Prescott (MISS ST)
In Prescott’s junior season, his first full season as a starter, he made a name for himself. He threw for 3,449 yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Prescott is strong and physical and he is not afraid to knock opponents over. Not only can he pass, he can run as well- 986 yards worth. “As a sophomore, he showed he had the talent. As a junior, he showed he could produce. What he does next year as a senior will define his career,” says Alex Scarborough of ESPN. SEC defenses will have their hands full with Prescott, at the rate he’s going.
College football is coming and it’s coming fast. Look out for these quarterbacks to be throwing passes, touchdowns, winning games and showing the nation why they deserve to hear their name called out on next years draft day. And furthermore, their name mentioned as the month’s top leading NFL jersey sales after draft day.