This was not my favorite ‘Top Five' list of all time. With all the turnover of teams, and at quarterback, trying to estimate how each passer will perform gets that little bit harder with a limited body of work, or even if they played at a lower level. There is some good news - at least for me - number one was a slam dunk. The rest, well, many of the rest have yet to win the starting job at their respective school, so a little leap of faith is required. Finally, as no preseason list is really worth the paper it's written on, expect the rankings to look completely different at the end of the season. Except maybe number one.
Terrance Broadway, Louisiana Lafayette
The sole returning multi-year starter in this year's Sun Belt, Broadway is generally considered the preseason favorite for both all-conference honors and offensive player of the year. Last season, the dual threat quarterback completed 62.4% of his 266 passes for 2419 yards, 19 TDs and 12 interceptions, while adding 455 yards and 8 scores on the ground. The tough guy quarterback played in the New Orleans Bowl last year despite breaking his right arm just over three weeks previous. Now in his fourth year in coach Mark Hudspeth's system, Broadway has a ton of talent at his disposal, and should lead the Cajuns to the conference crown this season.
Tyler Jones, Texas State
Dennis Franchione is building the Bobcats into a solid Sun Belt program, finishing 6-6 last season. Part of that building program will be Jones, who started seven games as a freshman, taking over for senior Tyler Arndt and posting a 4-3 record before his season was cut short by a broken hand. He completed 100 of his 160 passes (62.5%) for 1130 yards and 8 TDs, with 5 interceptions, and ran for 257 yards on 89 carries. He made some mistakes along the way, as is expected of a freshman, but looked great at other times. Now a sophomore, Jones was voted second team preseason all-conference by the coaches and media, and has some nice talent at running back to help bear the load.
Brandon Bridge, South Alabama
With Ross Metheny graduating, the Jaguars have an open competition at quarterback. Even so, it would be a surprise if former-Alcorn State transfer Bridge didn't come out on top. While his stats for last season aren't particularly impressive, completing just 29 of 66 passes for 398 yards, with 1 TD and 2 interceptions, Bridge is one of the most seasoned passers in the conference. He was a starter with the Braves from 2010-11, before an injury cut short his sophomore year. He accounted for 3440 total yards and 34 TDs in 16 games, but left Alcorn State after a ‘falling out' with the head coach. The Braves loss is USA's gain, as the Canadian quarterback has a talented offense to work with this season. Just wait for the "Canadian starts for USA" headlines.
Kameron Bryant, Appalachian State
After spending the first five games of his sophomore year splitting time with Jamal Londry-Jackson, Bryant took over the starting job full-time when it was evident who did the better job of moving the football. Bryant took a redshirt out of high school, then saw his freshman year end early courtesy of a knee injury. It turns out Bryant spent his two years on the bench wisely, and was one of the bright spots in an otherwise throwaway year for the Mountaineers. Bryant completed 237 of 333 passes (an astounding 71.2%) for 2713 yards, with 14 TDs and a mere 4 interceptions. While he wasn't a major ground threat, he was still mobile enough to add 158 yards and 3 rushing scores, and contributing to just 15 sacks allowed. He'll miss his two favorite receivers from last season, but will have sterling running Marcus Cox to pitch in.
Freddie Knighten, Arkansas State
Call him "The Drive". Knighten played sparingly in his first two seasons with the Red Wolves, but got to play extensively in the last two games of 2013, including the bowl game. Knighten wasn't particularly effective as a passer in those two games, essentially throwing bubble screens instead of pushing the ball down the field. Luckily, he's a good runner, and that skilled helped keep the Red Wolves in both games. Then came "The Drive". With time ticking down in the GoDaddy Bowl, Knighten completed both his passes for a total of 49 yards, throwing in a 6-yard run for good measure, and finishing the drive with a 13-yard TD pass to secure a 23-20 victory over Ball State. For the season, Knighten completed 34 of 48 passes (70.8%), but passed for just 215 yards and 2 TDs, with 1 interception. He also added a useful 344 yards and 5 TDs on 55 carries. Now he gets to take over a talented Arkansas State team that will push for a conference title, if he can come up with the goods.