ACC Football: Top 5 Quarterbacks Heading Into 2015


It’s that awkward time of year again, as we are done with Spring football, but still waiting for summer workouts to begin on most campuses across the ACC and the nation. However, we continue our countdown to the 2015 college football season on InsideTheACC by beginning our position by position breakdown of who the top performers should be heading into the season. To start off the series, let’s take a look at our preseason rankings at the quarterback position.


5. Marquise Williams, Senior, North Carolina

Marquise Williams breaks into our preseason Top 5, after proving to be an effective dual threat quarterback for the underperforming Tar Heels last season. Williams completed just over 63% of his passes for 3,068 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also carried the ball for 788 yards and 13 scores, which put his versatility on full display. If he cuts down on the nine interceptions he threw as a junior, the North Carolina offense should be able to flourish this season, as Williams looks to make his last season his best in Chapel Hill.


4. Everett Golson, Senior, Florida State

Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers.That tells you just about all you need to know about former Notre Dame quarterback, Everett Golson. While his coach at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly, preached the importance of ball security throughout most of last season, Golson still showed that he had some issues with giving the ball away on offense, leading to his subsequent benching and graduate transfer this off-season to Florida State. At the very least, Golson brings valuable experience to the table, as he finished last year completing 60% of his passes for 3,445 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also carried the ball for 283 yards on the ground for eight touchdowns, proving to be a valuable dual threat presence at times throughout last season. However, until he can clean up his 22 turnovers (14 interceptions, 8 fumbles), he will remain as one of the most underperforming quarterbacks in college football.


3. Justin Thomas, Junior, Georgia Tech

Justin Thomas is a system guy, and he without a doubt fits the bill as the perfect option quarterback for head coach Paul Johnson’s offense at Georgia Tech. Thomas led the team to an ACC Coastal division title by carrying the ball 190 times for a team-high 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns, amassing 5.7 yards per carry in the process. While he was not asked to put the ball in the air much, he was successful when doing so, completing 51.3% of his passes for 1,719 yards and 18 touchdowns. While Thomas might not be your prototypical college quarterback, his effectiveness is unquestioned, and he should be in for a big season in 2015, as he hopes to lead the Yellow Jackets to another division crown.


2. Brad Kaaya, Sophomore, Miami (FL)

After starting all 13 games in the 2014 season, Miami (FL) QB Brad Kaaya is poised to make the next step this season. His freshman campaign in Coral Gables, all things considered, was not too bad at all. Kaaya completed 58.5% of his attempts for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions, which helped him to a 145.9 passing rating in his first year at the helm. Although there are some question marks on the Hurricanes offensive line heading into 2015, there is no reason to believe that Kaaya will take a step back this season as a sophomore.


1. Deshaun Watson, Sophomore, Clemson

While he presents pre-season question marks surrounding the health of his knee following a torn ACL, Deshaun Watson is expected to be at full health at the start of the 2015 season. If this is truly the case, it is expected that Watson should pick up right where he left off in his 2014 debut. In eight games while splitting time with now departed senior Cole Stoudt, Watson completed 67.9% of his passing attempts for 1,466 yards while tallying 14 touchdowns to two interceptions. He also carried the ball for 200 yards and five scores. His versatility kept the Tigers’ opponents off-balance when he was at the helm last year, and if healthy, the results should be similar heading into this season, making him the conference’s top signal-caller.


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