No position sees as much time in the spotlight in football as the quarterback. The Cincinnati Bearcats are going to face at least 12 quarterbacks this season, depending on injuries and quality of play. Some will be good, some will be great and others, well they won’t be. Today, we are here to talk about the ones that will be the most difficult to deal with. The guys who will complete pass after pass and rack up yard after yard. The guys who will elude defensive linemen and keep the gas pedal down on offense. Here are the three best.
Nathan Rourke (Ohio)
While the first two guys on this list (below) were pretty easy to pick, determining the No. 3 quarterback was a bit more challenging. That is largely because of the unknown. At USF, Quinton Flowers is no longer under center but transfer QB Blake Barnett, who previously was with Alabama and Arizona State, could end up being the right pick. Meanwhile, in UCLA, Wilton Speight (who was on this list last year at Michigan) is still a very good quarterback, but he’ll only get to prove that if much-hyped freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson doesn’t win the starting job by Sept. 1.
Anyway, back to Rourke who is still a perfectly worthy selection. As a sophomore for the Bobcats last season, he threw for a respectable 2,203 yards and 17 touchdowns while only being intercepted seven times. Neither of those is an other worldly number. You know what is? 21. That’s the number of rushing touchdowns Rourke had, not to mention his 907 rushing yards and even his one touchdown catch. The second-team All-MAC signal caller really can do anything and UC will have to be ready to stop him in more ways than one.
Ben Hicks (SMU)
Hicks had a solid 2016 but he was fantastic in 2017. He threw 14 more touchdown passes (33) and three fewer interceptions (12) while tallying 3,569 yards on 58.5 percent passing. He ranked second in the American Athletic Conference in attempts (472) and completions (276) while ranking third in yards per game (274.5).
Hicks had a fairly business-like game against UC last year. He completed 70.3 percent of his passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. He threw both of those scores to Courtland Sutton, who is now in the NFL, but even without his best wide receiver, Hicks is still not to be trifled with.
McKenzie Milton (UCF)
You don’t win national titles without at least a competent quarterback. Regardless of how you feel about the self proclaimed national championship of UCF, there’s no denying that Milton was exceptional last year. On his way to being named the AAC’s offensive player of the year, he led the league in completion percentage (67.1), yards per attempt (10.2) and QB rating (179.3). If it wasn’t for Memphis’ Riley Ferguson (now trying to make it in the NFL), Milton would have led the way in passing yards (4,037), touchdowns (37) and yards per game (310.5).
As if his passing wasn’t enough, Milton struck fear into the hearts of defensive coordinators with his ability to tuck the ball and run. He ran for more than 600 yards and scored eight times on his own.
Too bad UC’s defense showed Milton just who the boss was last fall. Oh wait, they did the opposite. Milton threw for five touchdowns and 374 yards on only 16 completions. I’m not sure anyone can do better that that.