Ranking The Opposing Quarterbacks BYU Football Will Face In 2021
PROVO, Utah – BYU football enters the 2021 season with questions about who will fill the quarterback shoes left behind by New York Jets star Zach Wilson. Wilson shined for BYU last season, passing for 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
The top three contenders at BYU vying to replace him include Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney, and Jacob Conover. BYU football isn’t the only program this year looking to find answers at QB heading into the fall.
Seven of BYU’s 12 opponents on their 2021 schedule have quarterback battles. Those battles will likely carry deep into fall camps across the country.
For those teams that do have answers already established at quarterback, those teams on paper appear to be some of the toughest teams BYU football will face this year.
Ranking the opposing QBs BYU Football will face
Let’s take a deeper dive into the opposing quarterbacks BYU football will go against during the 2021 season. Of course, we will rank them from 12 to the best at number one.
#12 Justin Tomlin, James Graham, Sam Kenerson, Georgia Southern
The Eagles run a triple-option attack that causes headaches for opposing defenses. Last year, GSU won the New Orleans Bowl, with Shai Werts leading the way. They need to replace him as he left to be a wide receiver at Louisville. Justin Tomlin is the QB who has the most experience in the program.
#11 Logan Bonner/Andrew Peasley/Cooper Legas, Utah State
Blake Anderson comes from Arkansas State and he’s inheriting a USU program that isn’t quite at the rock bottom levels in the Brent Guy era. Still, Anderson pretty much has a blank canvas to work with after Gary Andersen was canned last fall.
Anderson brings Logan Bonner with him from Arkansas State, so there’s naturally an assumed trust factor. Andrew Peasley started last year and Cooper Legas was a dynamic athlete during his time at Orem High.
#10 Gunner Cruz/Will Plummer, Arizona
Like Blake Anderson at USU, new Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch is basically starting from scratch in Tucson.
A former QB coach with the New England Patriots last year, Fisch has some intriguing options to work with.
Gunner Cruz transferred within the Pac-12 from Washington State to Arizona. Will Plummer has game experience from last season and was a three-star recruit who committed to the Kevin Sumlin staff out of high school.
#9 Cade Fortin/Jarren Williams, USF
USF has one of the toughest non-conference schedules among Group of 5 programs. They’ll need to find answers in a hurry if they want to improve from the one-win season they suffered through in 2020.
The Bulls have a pair of Power 5 transfers to choose from, starting with North Carolina transfer Cade Fortin.
Fortin suffered an injury that limited his availability last year. He’s viewed as a favorite.
The other option is Miami transfer Jarren Williams. Williams, a former four-star recruit, was the Hurricanes week one starter against Florida in 2019.
#8 Tyler Vander Waal, Idaho State
Usually, when I put together these lists, you can bank on the FCS quarterback, typically at the bottom of this list. That’s not the case this year.
Vander Waal earned Newcomer of the Year in the Big Sky Conference after transferring to ISU from Wyoming.
The Bengals competed during the spring season and Vander Waal passed for 1,843 yards in six games.
#7 Jacob Zeno/Gerry Bohanon, Baylor
With Charlie Brewer moving on to play for the University of Utah, Baylor has a big question mark at quarterback.
The good news for former BYU OC Jeff Grimes is that he has some talented options to work with in former four-star recruits Jacob Zeno or Gerry Bohanon. Both have multiple years in the Baylor program; now, it’s a matter of who steps up.
#6 Jarrett Guarantano, Washington State
Guarantano hasn’t won the job for Washington State, but he’s viewed as a favorite by Wazzu insiders heading into the fall.
If the name sounds familiar, you’re right. Guarantano was the former starting quarterback at Tennessee before transferring to the Palouse. BYU defeated Guarantano’s Vols in 2019 in Knoxville.
He had a productive spring until the spring game, where he participated in only one play, which resulted in an interception. Guarantano also hurt his hand in that one snap.
The other contender to Guarantano is last year’s starter, Jayden de Laura, a player who BYU once offered as a recruit. Jayden de Laura is in his second year but missed all of the spring due to a DUI arrest in the winter.
#5 Brennan Armstrong, Virginia
During Bronco Mendenhall’s time at Virginia, the Cavaliers have had success in developing QBs. From Kurt Benkert to Bryce Perkins and now the Hoos hope Brennan Armstrong takes that next step. Armstrong passed for 2,117 yards last season in nine games.
#4 Charlie Brewer, Utah
Like Jarrett Guarantano at Washington State, Baylor grad transfer Charlie Brewer hasn’t officially won Utah’s starting quarterback job, but he’s definitely going to be hard to beat. Last year’s week one starter Cam Rising missed all of the spring due to surgery on his shoulder.
Brewer earned high praise from Kyle Whittingham and was a perfect 15-of-15 for 151 yards. The Austin, Texas native started in 39 games during his time at Baylor and left the school as one of their all-time best.
#3 Kedon Slovis, USC
Slovis enters his third year at USC as a Heisman Trophy candidate. The former three-star recruit led USC back to the Pac-12 Championship Game last season before falling to Oregon. As with everything at USC these days, there were some good moments and areas to improve for Slovis last year.
Slovis saw his completion percentage dip last year from 71.9% as a freshman to 67% in 2020. In only six games, Slovis tossed seven interceptions.
USC no longer has the elite skill players they once did, but Slovis among the QBs on this list, and of all signal-callers in the Pac-12, he has the best supporting cast. A big year from Slovis could catapult USC to the heights they are craving and possibly have him as a Day One NFL draft pick.
#2 Hank Bachmeier, Boise State
Bachmeier enters his junior year and through his first two seasons on the Blue, he has yet to face BYU. BYU has won the past two meetings against Boise State. Bachmeier missed 2019 due to an injury and last season was out of the annual matchup due to a positive test with COVID-19.
USC transfer Jack Sears was the starter in last year’s game against BYU, he returns as well. Creating a talented QB room for the Broncos.
When Bachmeier isn’t battling injuries or sickness, he’s one of the top QBs out west. Through 13 career games played, he’s passed for 3,029 yards.
One of the highest-rated recruits Boise State has landed, Bachmeier will have to lead the way for Boise State in year one under new head coach Andy Avalos.
#1 Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Last year, when putting together this article, Daniels checked in at No. 1 for the opposing QBs BYU will face in 2020. Obviously, Daniels and Arizona State never played BYU due to the Pac-12 going to a Conference-Only schedule amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arizona State only played four games last year, but Daniels as a sophomore showed flashes of why he could become one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Daniels passed for 701 yards and had a 5-1 TD-INT ratio. He also displayed a more explosive ground attack, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, up by four yards (2.8) from the previous year.
In year three with Herm Edwards and a normal off-season this year, Daniels has the potential to be 2021’s QB that takes off similar to Joe Burrow and Zach Wilson the previous two.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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