Philadelphia, PA – They get all the attention and for good reason. A playmaker under center can be the difference in reaching a BCS bowl game. With that in mind, here is a list of the top signal callers in the FBS in 2013.
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER (Louisville): After being tabbed the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2011, the 6-3, 220-pound Bridgewater took his game to another level as a sophomore, passing for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. Bridgewater completed a hefty 68.5 percent of his passes, as he went on to earn Big East Offensive Player of the Year, as well as garnering some All-American accolades. He capped off a stellar season by leading the Cardinals to a 33-23 victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl, where he passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns. If Bridgewater continues to develop on the same learning curve, the Cardinals will post double-digit wins for the second straight season, while Heisman chatter could reach a fevered pitch.
JOHNNY MANZIEL (Texas A&M): "Johnny Football" has earned legendary status in College Station. The only freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy, Manziel shattered the SEC record for total offense, amassing 3,706 yards passing, while adding another 1,410 rushing in 2012. He also accounted for an astounding 47 total touchdowns, en route to earning All-American status. His gritty performance in Tuscaloosa against a ravenous Alabama defense will go down as one of the best performances by a quarterback in some time. While his 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame may not be ideally suited for the NFL, Manziel is without a doubt larger than life in the college ranks. Matching last year's eye-popping numbers isn't likely, but it will certainly be fun to watch him try.
TAJH BOYD (Clemson): After bursting on the scene early in 2011 before fading down the stretch, the 6-1, 225-pound Boyd started and finished strong for the Tigers in 2012, as Clemson went 11-2 on the year. Boyd completed an impressive 67.2 percent of his passes, for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns. Like most of the top QBs on the list, Boyd is also a dual threat, as evidenced by his 514 yards rushing and 10 more TDs. Boyd is a dynamic playmaker that should continue to put up big numbers, as Clemson will once again be in the mix for an ACC crown and perhaps more. A Heisman worthy campaign certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility in Death Valley this year.
MARCUS MARIOTA (Oregon): The list of defections in Eugene is long. Not only have several All-American caliber players moved on to the NFL, but so has former head coach Chip Kelly. It remains to be seen if Mark Helfrich will maintain the status quo at Oregon, but he definitely has a real asset under center in Mariota. As a freshman last year, the 6-4, 215-pounder completed 68.5 percent of his throws, for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He also managed to find time to rush for 752 yards and five more scores, leading the lethal Ducks' offense. A natural leader under center, whose talents seem to be in line with the trending NFL, Mariota may not stay in Eugene past this season if he continues to thrive.
BRAXTON MILLER (Ohio State): Urban Meyer's spread offense was tailor-made for a player like Miller and vise versa. The 6-2, 210-pounder isn't the most polished passer on this list, but he is serviceable in that regard, especially with his threat of tucking the ball in and running with it. Miller completed 58.3 percent of his passes in 2012, an increase from 2011, while throwing for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 TDs, almost doubling his ground stats from 2011. He also happened to lead the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 campaign last year. Another season with Meyer working the strings and Miller could take the next step in his evolution.
AJ MCCARRON (Alabama): The only quarterback on this list with two national titles to his credit (Alabama also won the national title in 2009, but McCarron took a redshirt that season), he is the most seasoned signal-caller in the country. While a great deal of the credit for Alabama's success goes to Nick Saban and a dominant defense year-in and year-out, some has to go to the 6-4, 215-pound McCarron. He has done everything asked of him in Tuscaloosa, earning Third-Team All-American honors in 2012 as a junior, while leading the nation in passing efficiency (173.08). McCarron completed 67.2 percent his throws last year, for 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns, against just three interceptions. He is one of only seven quarterbacks to win consecutive national titles and the first since Tommie Frazier (Nebraska - 1994, 1995) to win back-to-back consensus crowns. A third straight title is certainly attainable, especially with McCarron handling the Alabama offense.
DEREK CARR (Fresno State): Although there may be some lingering doubts regarding Fresno State's talented signal-caller due to older brother David Carr's struggles in the NFL, there should be very few negative criticisms of Derek Carr following a stellar junior season in 2012. The 6-3, 210-pound Carr was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, setting the MWC single-season record with 4,104 yards passing. Carr also threw 37 touchdown passes against just seven interceptions. The scary thing for opponents is that it was just the first season in the new offensive scheme for Carr.
BRETT HUNDLEY (UCLA): The 6-3, 227-pound Hundley redshirted in 2011, but the time spent soaking in the atmosphere and the playbook paid off huge in 2012, as he stared all 14 games a year ago for UCLA as a redshirt freshman, setting single-season school records for passing yards, completions and total offense. The Bruins' signal-caller completed 66.5 percent his passes in 2012, for 3,740 yards and 29 touchdowns, while adding an additional nine scores on the ground.
DAVID FALES (San Jose State): Perhaps the most productive quarterback with the least amount of hype in the country, Fales put together an All-American campaign in 2012. The 6-3, 220-pounder had a huge junior season last year, leading the nation in completion percentage (.725), throwing for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns. A one-year starter at San Jose State after transferring in from the juco ranks, Fales rewrote the school record books a year ago and finished up ranked third in the nation in passing efficiency, sixth in passing yards and eighth in touchdown passes.
JORDAN LYNCH (Northern Illinois): The nation's ultimate dual may have resided in DeKalb last season in the form of the dynamic Lynch. The 6-1, 210-pounder passed for 3,138 yards and 25 touchdowns, while rumbling for 1,815 yards and another 19 touchdowns. While the MAC isn't exactly a hot-bed of Heisman-worthy performances, Lynch could make some noise in that regard with another big season with the Huskies. To do so however, Lynch will have to get some distance from an ugly performance in last year's Orange Bowl. Florida State's defense was too much for Lynch to handle, as he managed to rush for just 44 yards, while completing an ugly 15-of-41 passing, for just 176 yards.
HONORABLE MENTION: Aaron Murray (Georgia), Taylor Martinez (Nebraska), Everett Golson (Notre Dame), Kevin Hogan (Stanford), Devin Gardner (Michigan).