It’s all about being clutch, performing under pressure situations and delivering with ice water in the veins.
Having no fear, with a relentless effort and a never say die attitude is what makes an alpha male in the huddle. If the game is within reach approaching the final quarter than anything can happen. Especially when a signal-caller, with a heart of a warrior has the last possession.
Leaders are born during these come from behind moments of glory and these 10 quarterbacks hope to carry their teams to the finish line this fall if needed.
10. Brandon Peters, Illinois: The Michigan transfer proved his worth after a full season as the Fighting Illini’s starter last year. Peters pulled Illinois out of the dungeon after a 2-4 start and led the team to a bowl game for the first time since 2014. Illinois was down 20-14 to Wisconsin entering the fourth quarter, but Peters responded with a 39-yard touchdown pass with under six minutes left in the game. Not to mention he later had a first down completion during his team’s last drive to put the Fighting Illini in position to kick the game-winning field goal. Illinois was down 31-10 to Michigan State entering the fourth quarter. However, Peters responded with two touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score from a 13-play drive, with five seconds left in the game. It was also the largest comeback in school history. Peters is the reason why Fighting Illini fans are optimistic this fall about the program having a winning season for the first time under Lovie Smith.
9. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: The Aggies had arguably the toughest schedule in the FBS last season. Which means Jimbo Fisher’s squad was a better team than their 8-5 record indicated. Texas A&M was down 24-21 to Arkansas entering the fourth quarter in Jerry’s World and needed to avoid a 2-3 start to the season. Mond responded with a go-ahead touchdown pass in the final quarter and later with a 13-play scoring drive. It gave the Aggies their first conference win of the season. However, Mond saved his best for last in the bowl game against Oklahoma State. The game was tied entering the fourth quarter when Mond responded with a 67-yard touchdown run and later orchestrated a nine-play drive that put Texas A&M up by two scores. Winning more close games this fall is what will separate the Aggies from being an eight-win team to an SEC contender. The schedule lightens up in the non-conference slate, but the West is still brutal.
8. Chase Garbers, California: Last season the Golden Bears got off to a 4-0 start, thanks to Garbers’ heroics. California was down 19-17 at Washington entering the fourth quarter. Despite Garbers not scoring any touchdowns, he still battled through a 2 1/2 hours weather delay. Not to mention he led the game-winning drive that was capped off by a 17-yard field goal. Garbers stayed consistent down the stretch and had another clutch performance in the rivalry clash at Stanford. The Golden Bears were down 17-10 to the Cardinal entering the fourth quarter. Garbers tied the game with an 18-yard touchdown pass and later ran the ball in for another score to give California the 24-20 road win. The Golden Bears won four of their final five games, including three-straight. With Garbers’ return, plus Oregon, Washington and Washington State having new quarterbacks, California will contend in the Pac-12 North.
7. Jamie Newman, Georgia: The Wake Forest graduate transfer hopes to have the same success and make a splash in the SEC this fall. Newman showed what he was made of in last season’s opener against Utah State. He outdueled Jamie Newman who went on to be a first round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. The Demon Deacons were down 35-31 in the fourth quarter when Newman threw the go-ahead touchdown with a minute left. Love finished with 416 pass yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Newman finished with 401 pass yards, three touchdown, no interceptions and got the win. Wake Forest was down 27-26 to Duke midway through the fourth quarter when Newman responded with two scoring drives in the final nine minutes to pull out the win. The SEC is a different type of monster and Newman will face several teams with defensive speed and athleticism. Still, with his experience, leadership and production he should have a smooth transition for Kirby Smart.
6. Skylar Thompson, Kansas State: Chris Klieman received a warm welcome to the Big 12 thanks to the play of Thompson. Not only did the signal-caller pull off the upset against Oklahoma, but he also delivered in the clutch against Mississippi State, TCU and Iowa State. The Wildcats were down 21-17 entering the fourth quarter against the Bulldogs. After Kansas State tied the game with a 100-yard kickoff return Thompson delivered the final blow. He led the offense on a six-play, 53-yard drive, capped off by a touchdown pass Thompson threw with under six minutes left to pull out the road win. The game was tied at 17 entering the fourth quarter against the Horned Frogs. However, he responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a Thompson touchdown run for the win. In the regular season finale at home against the Cyclones the game was tied at 17. Thompson orchestrated two scoring drives in the final 15 minutes to give Kansas State the double-digit win.
5. Brock Purdy, Iowa State: His style of play is similar to the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and he has just as much guts in the clutch. Purdy and Iowa State was in a dogfight with Northern Iowa in the season-opener. The Cyclones were 13-10 entering the fourth quarter against the Panthers. Purdy responded with a 17-play, 74-yard scoring drive that tied the game up at 13 and sent it into overtime. He led three scoring drives in the extra period, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to give Iowa State the three-point victory. Iowa State was down 21-20 midway through the fourth against Texas. Purdy responded by orchestrating a nine-play drive, that was capped off by a 36-yard field goal as time expired. Iowa State was in a shootout with at home with Kansas the following week. The Cyclones were down 24-21 entering the fourth quarter against the Jayhawks and Purdy put on a gutsy performance in the final 15 minutes. He scored three touchdowns, including two through the air and Iowa State earned its’ seventh win of the year.
4. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh: The Panthers lost two of their first three contests to start last season. However, Pittsburgh bounced back with a four-game win streak, thanks to the play of Pickett. Pittsburgh was down 31-28 to UCF entering the fourth quarter. The Panthers fell down an additional three points when Pickett later responded with a three-yard go-ahead touchdown pass with under a minute left to play in the game to pull off the upset over the No. 15 Knights. Pittsburgh was down 30-26 to Duke with under 90 seconds left to play in the game. Pickett put together a clutch, four-play drive, capped off by a 26-yard game-winning touchdown pass he delivered to V’Lique Carter. Pittsburgh went into overtime against North Carolina, but Pickett scored the game’s only touchdown in the extra period to pull out the win. Pickett put on his cape one last time in the bowl game against Eastern Michigan. The Panthers were tied entering the fourth quarter. Still, Pickett responded with two touchdown passes to give Pittsburgh its’ eighth win of the season.
3. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota: The Golden Gophers were in some thrillers in the non-conference last season, but survived each scare. Minnesota was down 21-20 in the season opener against South Dakota State. It took a fumble recovery to get the Gophers offense back on the field for the game-winning touchdown drive and Morgan converted the two-point conversion for the extra cushion. In game two Minnesota was down 21-14 entering the fourth quarter against Fresno State. Morgan responded with two scoring drives to tie the game, including one that took over five minutes off the clock. He ran the ball in for a touchdown in overtime and that helped Minnesota survive the near upset against Fresno State. Game three against Georgia Southern was another nail-biter. The Gophers fell behind 32-28 to the Eagles with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter. He responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a touchdown pass from Morgan. He delivered again in the bowl game against Auburn when he threw the game’s only touchdown in the fourth quarter to give Minnesota the upset win.
2. Charlie Brewer, Baylor: He’s one of the most experienced signal-callers in the Big 12 and been in some pressure situations. Baylor was the biggest surprise in the league last season because of Brewer. He’s no stranger to overtime and came out victorious in two conference games. The quarterback halted a comeback from Iowa State, by putting together a 14-play drive that was capped off with a game-winning field goal. Brewer orchestrated a 11-play, 85-yard scoring drive to tie the game at the end of regulation. In the extra period Brewer scored one of the Bears’ two rushing touchdowns. Baylor was down 27-24 in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State. Brewer responded with a touchdown run that sparked two additional Bears’ scoring drives for the win. The game against TCU went into triple overtime and Brewer scored all three touchdowns, including two through the air to give Baylor the road win. The new coaching staff will depend heavily on Brewer’s experience for a smooth transition.
1. Jayden Daniels, Arizona State: The true freshman was the Sun Devils’ No. 1 recruit last season and led the team to eight wins for the first time since 2014. Arizona State won five of its’ first six games, including victories over Michigan State, Washington State and California, thanks to Daniels. The Sun Devils were down 7-3 against the Spartans midway through the fourth quarter. Daniels responded by orchestrating an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took the lead for good on the road. He also came through for Arizona State on the road against California. Daniels orchestrated two scoring drives, including a 15-play, 75-yarder that milked more than six minutes off the clock. The Sun Devils were down by a touchdown against the Cougars entering the fourth quarter. Daniels responded with a touchdown run and a touchdown pass that put Arizona State ahead for good. He showed the most promise in his performance against Florida State in the Sun Bowl. The Sun Devils were down 14-9 entering the fourth quarter. However, Daniels responded with two scoring drives, including one for 12 plays, 69 yards and took over four minutes off the clock to give Herm Edwards his eighth win of the season.