The league is experiencing a lot of turnover at quarterback with seniors Tommy Armstrong, Mitch Leidner, Wes Lunt, Perry Hills, Tyler O’Connor, Bart Houston and C.J. Beathard all graduating. So who’s doing best at the quarterback position heading into 2017?
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (J.T. Barrett)
Our 2016 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year has to get the nod all things considered in spite of the Clemson debacle. He’ll return for his senior year backed up by Joe Burrow. Ever since he burst onto the scene in 2014, Barrett has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league and is a crafty runner that keeps defenses honest.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions (Trace McSorley)
Tracy McGrady dunked all over the vaunted Wisconsin defense in the second half of the Big Ten Championship Game, and the Human Trebuchet proceeded to hang 49 points on the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl. This is a very close second, and McSorley will look to prove that all passes should be launched at a 60 degree angle.
3. Michigan Wolverines (Wilton Speight)
Emerging as the clear winner of a quarterback competition last year, Wilton Speight demonstrated great poise in leading the Wolverines to the brink of a tremendous comeback against Florida State. Though John O’Korn inspires nobody, a solid offensive line should mean Speight stays upright as he did for most of the year. With his top three receivers departing, Speight will have something to prove.
4. Northwestern Wildcats (Whoever Throws The Ball To Austin Carr)
I know, I’m just as surprised as you to see (apparently) Clayton Thorson here, but he really came on towards the end of the year and put up some decent numbers in between handing off the ball. If he can continue to hand the ball off and Austin Carr can continue to be suspiciously magical, Clayton Thorson will, in theory, statistically be one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten.
I know, me neither.
5. Indiana Hoosiers (Richard Lagow)
Remember what I said about quarterback turnover above? Well, that’s roughly why Richard Lagow is here. He has a great arm and made the Hoosiers passing game work last year, but also single-handedly lost to Wake Forest. If he can manage the games effectively, Indiana may be able to get back to the postseason.
6. Purdue Boilermakers (David Blough)
Yes really. David Blough has some reps under his belt and a big arm, and he put up some huge numbers keeping Purdue in some games last year. With noted quarterback whisperer Jeff Brohm in the fold, Blough could be one of the better quarterbacks in the league if he can get any time to throw behind a porous offensive line.
7. Michigan State Spartans (Brian Lewerke, Damion Terry)
Lewerke had established himself as the starter before breaking his leg, and both of these mobile quarterbacks might struggle to stay upright if the offensive line play doesn’t improve. Still, Lewerke showed brief flashes of brilliance last year.
8. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Giovanni Rescigno)
It’s entirely possible that Giovanni Rescigno could do some good work with a functional offense around him. After usurping Chris Laviano, he nearly beat Minnesota in his first career start before losing the rest of them, though that wasn’t entirely his fault. As you can tell, I’m valuing experience here, but not over everything.
9. Iowa Hawkeyes (Nathan Stanley)
The pro-style true sophomore has apparently exhibited great command of the offense to such an extent that he has a stranglehold on the starting job. WIth the departure of C.J. Beathard, we’ll see how long the legend of Nathan Stanley Dean Witter takes to begin.
10. Maryland Terrapins (Caleb Henderson)
A 4-star transfer from UNC, Henderson seems likely to usurp Tyrell Pigrome as the successor to Perry Hills.
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers (Tanner Lee, Patrick O’Brien, Tristan Gebbia)
With Tommy Armstrong and the Good Ship Ryker Fyfe gone, transfer Tanner Lee will probably be in line for the starting gig. Is Mike Riley truly the quarterback guru of legend?
12. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Demry Croft)
Demry Croft is apparently a person.
13. Illinois Fighting Illini (?????)
So, Chayce Crouch will not be ready to throw again until fall camp starts. Jeff George Jr is not an ideal solution, and true freshman Cameron Watkins, though a good athlete, is extremely raw. Meanwhile, 4 star JUCO quarterback Dwayne Lawson hasn’t signed with Illinois yet.
14. Wisconsin (Alex Hornibrook)
Wisconsin’s quarterback is always going to suck.