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Teddy Greenstein | Chicago Tribune | August 29, 2018

Breaking down the quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season

Our top 5 college QBs may surprise you.

The Big Ten's last Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was Ohio State's Troy Smith in 2006. Since then, Oklahoma has had two -- Sam Bradford and Baker Mayfield.

RELATED: How the AP preseason football poll predicts the College Football Playoff

Maybe the trend will flip this season. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso are both picking Penn State's Trace McSorley to strike the pose.

Here's the ranking of the Big Ten's starting quarterbacks. 

1. Trace McSorley, Penn State


Let it fly, 9️⃣! #WeAre

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With Saquon Barkley taking his act to Broadway, the pressure falls on the superb McSorley to produce another massive season. Also gone from State College: top receiver DaeSean Hamilton and leaping tight end Mike Gesicki.

2. Brian Lewerke, Michigan State

It's tempting to call the talented Lewerke underrated until you read this actual headline in the Michigan State school newspaper: "Brian Lewerke can cement himself as the greatest MSU QB ever." Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook, look out!

3. Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin 

The veteran left-hander entered the Big Ten elite when he tore apart Miami (23-for-34, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) in the Orange Bowl. The only negative -- the suspensions of top receivers Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis, elevating a pair of walk-ons to third and fourth on the depth chart.

4. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern


Dual-threat. 4️⃣ days to kickoff. #B1GCats

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He has the size, arm strength and intelligence to draw NFL scouts to Northwestern practices. His QB rating actually slipped last season after he threw 12 interceptions to 15 touchdown passes. Will his recovery from the ACL tear affect mobility?

MORE: The 7 best surprise scholarship presentations so far this football season

5. Shea Patterson, Michigan


@spatt_20 > @tarikblack7

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The Mississippi transfer torched the likes of Tennessee-Martin and Vanderbilt last season while he struggled against Alabama and LSU (46.1 percent, 0 TDs, 5 INTs). Coach Jim Harbaugh loves Patterson's focus during practice drills, saying: "He has an intensity to all of it."

6. Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell, Ohio State


QBs ♠️ #GoBucks #winthemoment

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It's show time for Haskins, who completed 6 of 7 passes at Michigan in relief of the injured J.T. Barrett. But Haskins will get at least occasional relief from Martell, the 5-11 rushing specialist who could become a fan favorite at the 'Shoe.

7. Nate Stanley, Iowa

A giant (Wisconsin) farm boy with a huge arm, Stanley has solid NFL potential. The Hawkeyes hardly are loaded with playmakers, though Stanley has bonded well with tight end Noah Fant. They hooked up for 11 touchdowns last season.

8. Elijah Sindelar and David Blough, Purdue


Break through. #BoilerUp

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They're competitors for playing time -- and close friends. Blough is more mobile, but Sindelar is considered to have the higher ceiling. And he proved his toughness and team-first attitude last season when he played three-plus games on a torn ACL.

9. Peyton Ramsey, Indiana 


Brotherhood. #GoIU #IUFB

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Coach Tom Allen said Ramsey, who completed 65.4 percent of passes last season, "won the team" during fall camp: "They believe he is the guy." Grad transfer Brandon Dawkins unexpectedly bolted after losing the competition, giving Ramsey more breathing room.

10. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska 


The game needed life, so I put my heart into it

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Those around Martinez think to themselves: This guy is 18? "Very mature kid," coach Scott Frost said. "Unusually so for someone his age." The California native with the explosive running ability is Nebraska's only scholarship quarterback after Tristan Gebbia fled, shockingly.

11. Zack Annexstad, Minnesota 


Coach Fleck named Zack Annexstad the starting quarterback today. #Gophers #SkiUMah #RTB

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He's not only a true freshman, he's a walk-on. (Cue up the Mayfield/Texas Tech comparison.) But Annexstad was good enough to draw scholarship offers from Pitt, Cincinnati and Illinois before deciding to enroll at his home-state school.

ALSO: These schools have the longest active home winning streaks entering the 2018 season

12. Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome, Maryland


Workin’ on the weekend! #FTT

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Hill completed 18 of 21 passes over three games last season before tearing an ACL. Pigrome rushed for 64 yards and went 9-for-12 against Texas before a knee injury ended his season. Interim coach Matt Canada has not chosen a starter.

13. A.J. Bush, Illinois  


Training Camp rolls on. 🏈 #Illini

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The Georgia native has found a home after stops at Nebraska, Iowa Western and Virginia Tech. Coach Lovie Smith raves about his leadership, calling him "an example for the young quarterbacks in that room." Illinois QBs threw just eight TD passes last season and 19 INTs.

14. Artur Sitkowski, Rutgers


HUNT DAYS: Training camp with the Scarlet Knights Episode 1

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The New Jersey-bred true freshman has size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and a year under his belt at the IMG Academy. But his transition to big-time football could be jarring. Said coach Chris Ash: "I'll be able to tell you if he's ready to go when the (first) game is over."

This article is written by Teddy Greenstein from Chicago Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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