By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Jeremy Moses drives around campus at Stephen F. Austin in his black 2007 Toyota Corolla. At Homer Bryce Stadium, though, he has the keys to the fastest engine in the FCS.
As their record-setting quarterback, Moses revs the Lumberjacks' run-and-gun spread offense. In 2008 and 2009, he threw for an almost ridiculous 41 and 40 touchdowns, respectively, and he set NCAA single-game records for pass attempts (85) and completions (57) in a 2008 game against Sam Houston State.
"It's pretty much every quarterback's dream," Moses said. "I've been in this type of offense since I was in junior high. My entire quarterbacking career, I've just been able to catch and throw the ball wherever I want to, and it's awesome. It's a lot of responsibility because half the plays that are called in the game are from me. You're directing 11 guys on what you see, so it's a lot of responsibility. But I wouldn't have it any other way."
In the no-huddle attack, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson calls the plays, but Moses has freedom to adjust them depending on how the defense is set up. Defenders know more times than not, the Lumberjacks will pass the ball. Question is, can they stop Moses?
"Before the snap, it's like doing a crossword puzzle or some kind of puzzle," Moses said. "You just have to figure out what the defense is doing and I've got to figure out which play do I have the best against the defense they're going to run.
"If your D-line is not in shape, then it's going to be a long game for them because we run sideline-to-sideline every game."
The 6-foot, 200-pound Moses completed 68 percent of his passes as a junior, finishing 385-of-566 for 4,124 yards, the 40 TDs and 21 interceptions. The final figure is one that he wants to lower.
After spring practices, Moses feels more prepared than he has ever been. It seems impossible to raise his play statistically, but he will have to be on target because SFA lost Duane Brooks, who caught 118 passes, and Vincent Pervis, whose 919 yards rushing kept defenses somewhat honest.
Moses will spread the wealth among young receivers in 2010. Sophomore-to-be Gralyn Crawford, who was third on the team with 51 receptions, figures to be go-to receiver. There's also junior Brandon Scott, and sophomores Cordell Roberson and Anthony Foster.
In addition to Moses, quarterback play will be strong across the nation. Here are nine more signal-callers making up the FCS Top 10, although many additional candidates, like UC Davis senior Greg Denham, South Carolina State senior Malcolm Long and Old Dominion junior Thomas DeMarco, can state their cases for the list:
K.J. Black, Prairie View A&M, Sr. - Just the fact that the Panthers won their first Southwestern Athletic Conference in 45 years last season is a telling accomplishment for Black. But his statistics also support what the 6-4, 225- pounder can do in the pocket. The SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, who transferred to Prairie View A&M from Western Kentucky, led the FCS in completion percentage (70.4) and passing efficiency (172.77). He completed 162- of-230 passes for 2,033 yards and 22 touchdowns. He carries a presence as a passer, but can make opponents pay with his feet, too.
Aaron Corp, Richmond, Junior - First-year coach Latrell Scott's first signing was impressive - the 6-3, 200-pound transfer from the University of Southern California. This time a year ago, Corp emerged from the Trojans' spring practices as the starter, but he was injured during preseason camp and lost the top job to freshman Matt Barkley. Corp is a pro-style passer, with good athleticism and scrambling ability. When Barkley missed a game last season at Washington, Corp started and completed 13-of-22 passes for 110 yards with an interception. The Trojans fell, 16-13.
Michael Herrick, Northern Arizona, Sr. - The Ole Miss transfer's terrific end to the 2008 season flowed into last season. He completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 3,356 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions - throwing for 574 yards against Eastern Washington. He is poised, accurate in the short passing game and the unqualified leader of the Lumberjacks' spread offense. NAU lost last year's key receivers, but Herrick developed chemistry with his new targets during spring practices. At Valencia High School in California, he set the state's all-time record with 11,010 yards passing.
Cameron Higgins, Weber State, Sr. - Higgins plays in the same Big Sky Conference as Herrick. Although he threw for 3,321 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, he also was picked off 20 times and didn't play as well as during his sophomore season in 2008, when he was the conference's offensive player of the year and finished sixth in the Walter Payton Award voting. A consummate pocket passer, Higgins has already thrown for 9,762 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career, and should surpass Jamie Martin's school records in both categories. He also has a career efficiency rating of 150.60.
Kyle Newhall-Caballero, Brown, Senior - What coach wouldn't want his QB to be intelligent? Starting with Newhall-Caballero completing the first 11 passes of his career in last year's season opener against Stony Brook, Bears offensive- minded coach Phil Estes knew he had something special. The All-Ivy League quarterback went on to finish second to Moses in the FCS in completions per game (25.9) and 12th in passing yards per game (270.9). He is a drop-back passer who works the ball around. He doesn't face the fast defenses of the elite FCS conferences and will have top find new top receivers with the graduation of longtime standouts Buddy Farnham and Bobby Sewall.
Scott Riddle, Elon, Senior - How Elon will succeed without incredible receiver Terrell Hudgins (395 career receptions) is a riddle that the Phoenix's aptly- named quarterback is capable of solving. Riddle, who has worked to develop chemistry with returning receivers like Lance Camp, has been the Southern Conference second-team quarterback for three straight seasons behind the last three Walter Payton Award winners (Georgia Southern's Jayson Foster in 2007, and Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards in 2008 and 2009). Riddle completed 285-of-439 passes for 3,345 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a junior.
R.J. Toman, New Hampshire, Senior - Heading into his third season as the starting quarterback, Toman is a dual threat, working the short passing game in the Wildcats' spread offense as well as being a quick and elusive runner. He makes good decisions in the backfield and was 174-of-320 for 2,181 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2009, though he has lost All- American tight end Scott Sicko. Toman was even better as a sophomore in 2008, throwing for 3,110 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Chris Whitney, Villanova, Senior - Let's see, who to get the ball to? Matt Szczur, Aaron Ball, Angelo Babbaro. Well, the defending FCS champions are also in good shape when Whitney opts not to give it to someone else. The 6-2, 230- pounder thrives on physical play, just missing the 1,000-yard rushing mark last season with 987 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a passer, he was 159-of-247 for 1,936 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. The All-CAA Football first- team quarterback is an intense competitor who jump-starts the Wildcats' offense. He is 25-5 as a starter, with each loss coming against a Top 15- ranked opponent.