The Big Ten hasn’t always been known for quarterback play but it is the home conference to some of football’s all-time greats at the position such as Tom Brady from Michigan and Drew Brees from Purdue. But the conference has been developing some stellar quarterbacks in more recent years as well.
The Big Ten is beginning to see more quarterbacks step into key roles capable of taking advantage of the new way of offensive play in today’s game. Big arms and versatility are the keys to the success of any college quarterback, and the Big Ten has seen some good ones come through in recent years including the late Dwayne Haskins, JT Barrett, and Trace McSorley.
Penn State hasn’t especially been known for its prominent quarterback play since the 1980’s and 90’s but things may be turning the corner. In the meantime, it is worth visiting around the conference and seeing who has the best passers heading into the Summer and eventual Fall.
14. Gavin Wimsatt – Rutgers
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The journey from Kentucky to New Jersey isn’t typical but neither is Gavin Wimsatt. He will be looking to bring his 4-star recruiting rank to Rutgers and with a full year of starting hopes to make an impact. Until then though, he will be a placeholder on this list.
13. Spencer Petras – Iowa
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Is Iowa one of the best teams in the country routinely? Absolutely. Are they known for their quarterback play? Sadly, no. What they are known for is winning as I mentioned and that is what Spencer Petras has done in Iowa City. Talent-wise, he leaves a ton to be desired so sorry Hawkeye fans, but he comes in at No. 13 on this list because of it.
12. Tommy DeVito – Illinois
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Coming in from Syracuse, Tommy DeVito will be looking to bring some winning to Champagne that he couldn’t deliver in New York State. DeVito hasn’t officially won the job but he would provide some live ball potential in a rather stagnant offense so odds are he will be the guy come the fall.
11. Ryan Hilinski – Northwestern
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The former South Carolina Gamecock will look to finally get comfortable in the purple and black and lead Northwestern to where they want to go. Ryan Hilinski has a ton of natural arm talent, he showed it against SEC defenses, but he just hasn’t seemed comfortable. 2022 may be that year, it may not be.
10. Connor Bazelak – Indiana
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Yes, another transfer quarterback and he isn’t the last. Connor Bazelak flashed a ton of promise at Missouri but ultimately they made a change and so did he. Now he hopes to capitalize on a fresh opportunity at Indiana and help the Hoosiers achieve what they almsot did with Michael Penix Jr.
9. Tanner Morgan – Minnesota
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Tanner Morgan has been around the Big Ten almost as long as Sean Clifford has been for Penn State. Morgan has shown he can win for PJ Fleck and the Golden Gophers but the problem is the conference and everyone knows what he is at this point. He gets back some key skill players this coming season so they hope to conjure up some 2019 magic.
8. Sean Clifford – Penn State
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The elder statesman of the conference, [autotag]Sean Clifford[/autotag] will be entering his fifth season as the Nittany Lion starter. That being said, like Tanner Morgan, we know what he is at this point, and he has shown he can be a reliable, winning signal-caller. Where he lacks compared to the rest of the conference is the “wow” factor and the consistency that most of the guys ahead of him have.
7. Graham Mertz – Wisconsin
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The highest-rated quarterback recruit in Wisconsin history, Graham Mertz, has been underwhelming. A ton of expectations came with him to Madison and his freshman season he seemed to be the real deal. However, last year was very underwhelming so which Mertz will we get to see in 2022? The potential of who we could see has him landing at the seven spot.
6. Payton Thorne – Michigan State
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Payton Thorne looked the part and continues to be one of the better quarterbacks in the conference as michigan state looks to build on their 2021 season. He was a big part of the season they had last year, alongside Kenneth Walker II, which ended in a Peach Bowl win against Pittsburgh. Expectations will be high for 2022 but Thorne should be up for the task.
5. Casey Thompson – Nebraska
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This is going to seem high, but here is hoping Scott Frost can finally figure things out with the most talented quarterback he has had. Casey Thompson transferred to Nebraska after Texas brought in Quinn Ewers so that rubbed him the wrong way so now he hopes to restore some of that Cornhusker tradition of winning. He had 28 total touchdowns last year on a rather down Texas squad so hopefully, he can produce the same and justify this top-five ranking.
4. Michigan Starting Quarterback
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Cade McNamara is the quarterback who set up the michigan wolverine season, but JJ McCarthy took the reigns to end the year. McCarthy is the high end recruit, McNamara is the proven winner. That being said, they have no idea who will be the starter officially but either way we are looking at a Michigan squad in good hands.
3. Aiden O’Connell – Purdue
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After sitting on the sideline for nearly four years, Aiden O’Connell made the most of his luck as a full-time starter. He passed for over 3,700 yards and threw for 28 touchdowns while leading Purdue to a nine-win season. Expectations will be high for O’Connell and head coach Jeff Brohm but O’Connell should be one of the leading signal-callers in the conference regardless of records, the stats will be there.
2. Taulia Tagovailoa – Maryland
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After stepping out of his brothers shadow in 2021, Taulia Tagovailoa let everyone know the hype was deserved when he transferred to Maryland after 2019. He threw for nearly 4,000 yards and scored 28 total touchdowns and while Maryland wasn’t great for the whole season, his talent is indisputable at this point.
1. CJ Stroud – Ohio State
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Shocking right? CJ Stroud is already being rumored to be the top quarterback in college football, let alone the Big Ten, in 2022. That same discussion is leading him to already be in both Heisman talks and 2023 NFL Draft top pick talks. Tea Buckeyes always have high expectations but the reason they remain high this year is because of CJ Stroud, big year ahead for the Buckeye signal-caller.