Tim checks in again looking at the guy behind the guy behind the guy across the B1G
Throwing the forward pass is a big question mark for the majority of Big Ten quarterbacks. Their athleticism, though, is not.
Many of the 2012 Big Ten starting quarterbacks are doing everything they can to fight the stereotype of “game manager.” For a conference usually classified by others as boring, I see only four of the 12 projected starters as “pro-style” quarterbacks; the rest can be classified as “dual-threats” or “athletes.”
With that said, I give to you my 2012 Big Ten quarterback rankings.
12. Matt McGloin (Penn State): McGloin has started ten games in his Nittany Lion career, but just hasn’t gotten any better. However, he’s far and away PSU’s best option at quarterback. Last year, McGloin threw for 1,571 yards with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. With the Penn State program in such turmoil, it would be nice if they had a savior at quarterback. Matt McGloin is not that.
11. Tre Roberson (Indiana): Although he was just a true freshman, Roberson struggled as Indiana’s starting quarterback last year. His rushing ability can make him a dangerous player for defense to account for. And in Roberson’s defense, he plays for Indiana.
10. Andrew Maxwell (Michigan State): Maxwell sat behind Kirk Cousins for two seasons, not getting many opportunities to show off his talent. Inexperience is the reason why I have Maxwell ranked where I do. He’s got the physical skills, but just simply hasn’t played in enough games yet for me to rate him any higher than ten.
9. Kain Colter (Northwestern): Colter may not be the best natural quarterback for the Wildcats, but he’s definitely their best athlete. In addition to quarterback, he also spent time playing running back and wide receiver for Northwestern. In 2011, Colter threw for 673 yards and six touchdowns, ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 43 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns. For Northwestern, it is simple: Get him the damn ball.
8. Caleb TerBush (Purdue): From everything I’ve heard, Purdue doesn’t even know who its starting quarterback is going to be. It’s a race between TerBush and Robert Marve, who has been playing college football for about fifteen years now. My guess is the Boilermakers will go with TerBush, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.
7. MarQueis Gray (Minnesota): Gray has all of the physical tools to be an All-Big Ten selection. The 6’4” 240 quarterback has a deadly combination of size and speed, but he hasn’t lived up to all of his hype—now entering his senior season. He did take major strides last season, though, under coach Jerry Kill. Gray threw for nearly 1,500 yards last season and ran for 966, scoring 14 total touchdowns. But, like Roberson, Gray does not have much help as he plays for a team that finished 3-9 last season.
6. Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois): Illini fans were left wanting more from Scheelhaase in 2011. After a very promising freshman campaign in which he threw for over 1,800 yards, ran for 868 yards and scored 22 total touchdowns, Scheelhaase showed little improvement in h is sophomore season. In fact, many Illinois supporters say he took a step backwards during his sophomore campaign. He threw for just 13 touchdowns and ran for 624 yards. Losing superstar wide receiver A.J. Jenkins won’t make things easier for him either, but Scheelhaase is another dual-threat quarterback that has the ability to drive opposing coaches crazy.
5. Taylor Martinez (Nebraska): Death, taxes and Taylor Martinez driving Nebraska fans crazy. These three things are certain in life. As brilliant as Martinez can be with his legs at moments, he can be equally as awful with his decision-making. If Martinez eliminates those “What was he thinking?” moments in 2012, he can easily be a top three quarterback in the conference. But don’t bet on that. Some things just aren’t meant to be.
4. James Vandenberg (Iowa): Looking for the best pure passer in the Big Ten? It’s Vandenberg. Not heavily recruited out of high school, Vandenberg showed big-time ability last year in his first full season as a starter. He threw for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns, while only throwing seven interceptions. He still seems to be flying under the radar, too. News flash for Iowa opponents this year: James Vandenberg is really good.
3. Danny O’Brien (Wisconsin): Is it too soon to call the Badgers “Former ACC Quarterback U?” Last year it was Russell Wilson. This year, the Badgers’ starter will be former Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien. He has plenty of experience, throwing for over 4,000 yards in his Terrapin career. However, that was mostly against ACC competition. I’m anxious to see how O’Brien handles playing in the Big Ten. Wisconsin’s always solid offensive line and running game should take a bit of pressure off, though.
2. Braxton Miller (Ohio State): I know what you’re saying, Buckeye fans, and it is not ridiculous that I do not have Miller as the No. 1 quarterback in the Big Ten. In fact, I had a tough time putting him ahead of O’Brien. When it comes down to it, Miller has a long way to go to become an elite quarterback in college football. There is no question about his athleticism; he showed on multiple occasions last year he is capable of breaking any big play with his legs. I do, however, have some concerns with Miller’s ability to throw the ball, and you should too. Although he was just a freshman last year, Miller struggled to even throw a spiral at times. Many Buckeye fans are hopeful Miller will thrive under Urban Meyer, and I believe that he will.
1. Denard Robinson (Michigan): This may not be a popular choice on this site, but it is the right choice. Denard Robinson is a superstar at the collegiate level. All he did last season was total 3,349 yards and 36 touchdowns. He enters 2012 as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender. Like most quarterbacks in this conference Robinson’s strength is with his legs and not his arm. With Robinson under center for his final season, the maize and blue will be right there in contention for a Big Ten title.
With all of these dual-threat quarterbacks, the Big Ten is in the midst of something it has never seen before. But I can tell you one thing: It sure will be fun to watch.