Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 8/19/13

9. Stephen Morris (Senior, Miami) Rounding out our Top 9 is none other than Miami’s Stephen Morris. Morris had an interesting 2012 with the Miami Hurricanes and hopes to build on a successful offseason in 2013. According to reports from the Manning Passing Academy, Morris put on quite the show in winning the skills competition. Morris was Miami’s starting quarterback in 2012 and helped the team to a 7-5 record and would have led the team to its first appearance in an ACC championship game if not for self-imposed sanctions by the University. Although the 2012 Hurricanes suffered some lopsided losses, most of the blame can be placed on the defense, which struggled throughout most of the season. Morris had 3,345 passing yards in 2012 and had four games in which he threw for more than 360 yards. In his third year under Al Golden, Morris stands ready to take Miami to an ACC championship appearance and possible BCS berth. His ability to throw the deep ball and find open receivers should be a positive for an improving Hurricanes’ squad. Fans of the Hurricanes are hoping that by the end of the year Morris and running back Duke Johnson are splitting the southern Heisman vote. 8. Brett Hundley (Sophomore, UCLA) Last season as a redshirt freshman, Hundley flourished while leading the Bruins to a 9-5 record, just one season after going 6-8. Just the presence of Hundley is pretty significant considering UCLA has seriously lacked a quarterback threat since Drew Olson in 2005, now seven years later Hundley has restored offensive faith. The 6-3 slinger collected 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns through the air while rushing for nine touchdowns on the ground. Hundley will have the chance to prove what he and the Bruins are made out of with back-to-back games in Eugene and Stanford this season.  If he can take both games, he can shoot up this list and become a strong Heisman, Maxwell, and O’Brien candidate. 7. Braxton Miller (Junior, Ohio State) Since 1936 the OSU Marching Band has been dotting the ‘i’ of the script Ohio before every home and bowl game. Braxton Miller hopes to dot an exclamation point on what could be a fantastic 2013 season. It will be hard for Ohio State to top last year’s performance; the Buckeyes went 12-0 but were unable to attend the conference championship or a bowl game. Much of the team’s success was due to Miller’s ability to control the game and come up big when they needed him. He threw for over 200 yards in four games and only had one game in which he threw for under one hundred yards (Wisconsin with 97). Miller was a textbook example of a dual threat with 2,039 passing yards and 15 passing TDs while amassing 1,271 yards and 13 TDs on the ground. On first downs for the Buckeyes he had 616 rushing yards on 101 attempts for an average of 6.1 yards per carry. It does not hurt when your quarterback alone can give you (on average) a short yardage second down situation. Keep in mind that Miller also improved from 2011 and now stands to gain from a second year under head coach Urban Meyer. 2013 will be an interesting test for Miller. Ohio State is now eligible for the conference championship and a potential BCS bowl so the pressure will only increase. After a promising 2012, Miller could be dotting the i’s of a national championship or dotting the i’s in disappointment. 6. Aaron Murray (Senior, Georgia) The most experienced player on this list, Aaron Murray enters his senior year after three very productive seasons. Most importantly, he’s improved every year. Last season, he finished with 3,893 yards passing, 744 more than the previous season. He also had 36 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions. Four-year starters, especially in the SEC are rare and his consistency only points to him culminating his career with a monster senior season. Murray will have the luxury of having the best backfield in the SEC, with sophomore phenoms Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall coming off of impressive freshman seasons. Junior receiver, Malcolm Mitchell, is also poised for a breakout year as Murray’s most talented target. Throw in a number of veteran receivers, Murray and the Bulldogs have no shortage of offensive weapons. Based on his track record, he will improve on last season and lead Georgia to another SEC Championship game. 5. Marcus Mariota (Sophomore, Oregon) As a freshman last season, Marcus Mariota led the the Duck’s high-flying, no-huddle, cool-jersey to a Fiesta Bowl win and a 12-1 record. Mariota had a whopping 32 passing TDs in 2012 along with five rushing TDs. Mariota looks poised to continue his strong presence under center at Oregon in 2013. His speed and quick decision-making helped Oregon reach the Fiesta Bowl and his low amount of interceptions (six) went a long way in helping the team. However, a loss against Stanford showed cracks in Mariota’s otherwise flawless armor. An uninspired overtime performance, which led to a missed field goal, cost the Ducks a possible Pac-12 and a National Title. If he can win against UCLA and at Stanford, Mariota has a chance to win the Heisman, Maxwell and O’Brien, especially if he can lead Oregon to an undefeated season under new head coach Mark Helfrich. Helfrich represents the only wild card in what could be a stellar year for Oregon. However, considering how Helfrich truly understand the talent he has in Mariota, we can look for him to use the sophomore in special ways. 4. A.J. McCarron (Senior, Alabama) Easily the best game manager on the list, but you can even argue McCarron is the best quarterback in the country with two National Championships to his resume. Last season McCarron accumulated 2,933 yards with 30 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 67.2 while only throwing an unbelievable three interceptions. He even set a school-record last year when throwing 292 passes without a pick. Although he may be the least flashiest player on this list, and still might not get the credit he deserves,  watch for Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon to help him look even better as he becomes college football’s most consistent and successful quarterback of all-time.  3. Tajh Boyd (Senior, Clemson) There’s not much more to say about Boyd other than he is a phenomenal playmaker. His strong arm and his instinctual elusiveness forces me to compare his style to Donavon McNabb. Boyd threw nearly 300 completions for 3,896 yards and 36 passing touchdowns, and was also impressive finding the end zone rushing with 10. With a predictable rebound season from Sammy Watkins along with the green light to throw the ball well over 400 times,  Boyd will make a case as the nation’s best player. 2. Teddy Bridgewater (Junior, Louisville) A projected as a high first round pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Teddy Bridgewater is the best pure pocket passer on this list. His mechanics and fundamental football skills are more than polished, the guy looks like a machine dropping back. At 6’3”, he stands tall in the pocket and has elite footwork that allows him to evade defenders while keeping his eyes downfield. Last season he passed for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns, but even more impressive was his 68.5 completion percentage. Bridgewater’s schedule is the easiest of any quarterback’s on this list and the Cardinals return three of their top four receivers from last year. After showing tremendous improvement as a sophomore, expect Bridgewater to put up Heisman numbers as a junior. 1. Johnny Manziel (Sophomore, Texas A&M) The best quarterback in the country is also the best player in the country. Reigning Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel, has all eyes on him this season. In less than a year he’s become the most popular figure in college football. His 5,116 total yards of offense last season is a new SEC record and the most all-time by any freshman. He took the nation by storm, totaling 3,706 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, and 1,410 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in the best conference in the country. His speed makes him a serious scoring threat, either by buying his receivers time to improvise or by keeping the ball himself. Manziel will have plenty of weapons, including senior running back Ben Malena who averaged 5.9 yards per carry last season, number one receiver Mike Evans, and a highly touted freshman wideout, Ricky Seals-Jones. Aside from a Sept. 14 matchup with Alabama and a late season game versus LSU, A&M’s schedule is favorable. Assuming his off-field issues get solved in time, the legend of Johnny Football will live on in 2013. -Vespasiano, Reynolds, Schotz

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