June 17, 2024

Ranking the ACC’s best quarterbacks of 2024

ACC's best quarterbacks of 2024

(Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

Despite losing Drake Maye and Jordan Travis to the NFL, the ACC returns a solid collection of gunslingers this upcoming season, with a sprinkle of new faces.

Everyone will be trying to make an impact in the expanded 17-team league, and it appears to be as wide open as ever. These 17 individuals are looking to pick up where they left off, and add to their legacies in the new era of College Football.

Which is why August can’t get here fast enough, with Florida State and Georgia Tech debuting the conference in Ireland.

17. Nate Yarnell, Pittsburgh: The 21-year old started the Panthers’ last two games in 2023, and posted decent numbers in his limited time behind center. Yarnell completed two of his three passes, including a 25-yard touchdown to wideout Konata Mumpfield at Notre Dame. He threw for 48 yards at Syracuse. Yarnell passed for 207 yards, rushed for 24 and scored two total touchdowns in the victory over Boston College. Not to mention he completed 25 of his 35 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns at Duke, which were all season-highs. The former three-star prospect picked up where he left off in last month’s spring game. Yarnell completed 12 of his 16 passes, including a 34-yard touchdown.

16. Anthony Colandrea, Virginia: The Florida native is coming off a promising campaign as a true freshman. Coach Tony Elliott played musical chairs with Colandrea and Tony Muskett throughout 2023. However, Colandrea led the Cavaliers in passing yards and touchdown tosses. His 377 passing yards against James Madison were a season-high. Colandrea passed for 314 yards, a touchdown and an interception at Louisville. The former three-star prospect threw for 278 yards, and three scores in the victory over Duke. Colandrea completed 15 of his 16 passes for 102 yards in the spring game. Muskett is in the mix too, after completing 10 passes for 200 yards, and two touchdowns in the event.

15. Maalik Murphy, Duke: The 20-year old backed up Quinn Ewers at Texas last season, and made the most out of his opportunities. Murphy was able to start two games in Big 12 play, which were both victories. He received mop-up duty in the opener against Rice, but completed three of his five passes for 40 yards. Murphy completed 16 of his 25 passes for 170 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the win over BYU. The following week he completed 19 of his 37 passes for 248 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in the victory over Kansas State. The California native put together a promising debut in the Blue Devils’ spring game, and threw a touchdown to wide receiver Jordan Moore.

14. Ashton Daniels, Stanford: The former three-star prospect started 10 games last season, and even made the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll. Daniels also finished second on the team in rushing yards, and touchdowns on the ground. The 19-year old was able to get off to a hot start after he threw for 248 yards, and two touchdowns in the opening victory at Hawaii. He passed for 396 yards and four touchdowns in the win at Colorado, which were both season-highs. Daniels threw for 367 yards, rushed for 81, and scored three total touchdowns against Washington. The six-foot-two, 215-pounder looked solid in the spring game, with two touchdown tosses. Now Daniels appears ready for the ACC.

13. Hank Bachmeier, Wake Forest: The 24-year old played four seasons at Boise State before he arrived in Winston Salem. Bachmeier threw for 6,605 yards, 41 touchdowns and 19 interceptions during that span with the Broncos. He started eight games with the Bulldogs last season. Bachmeier threw for 300-plus yards against Florida International, Liberty and Sam Houston. His 384 passing yards against the Bearkats were a season-high. Bachmeier battled Jeremy Hecklinski throughout the spring. The Californian completed 24 of his 40 passes for 310 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the spring game. Hecklinski threw for 204 yards, and three scores in the event.

13. Thomas Castellanos, Boston College: The Georgia native is the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the ACC, and threw 14 interceptions last season. Castellanos led the Eagles to a 7-6 campaign, which included their first bowl win since 2016. He finished second nationally in rushing yards among quarterbacks, only behind Heisman winner Jayden Daniels. His 1,113 yards rushing yards ranked third overall in the ACC. Castellanos threw for a season-high, 305 yards against Boston College. The former three-star prospect passed for 265 yards, and scored four total touchdowns at Louisville. Castellanos eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards against Army, Georgia Tech, Miami and SMU.

11. Fernando Mendoza, California: Last season he led the Golden Bears to three victories in Pac-12 play, and helped them reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2019. Mendoza threw for 207 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against Oregon State. The former three-star prospect passed for 292 yards, and scored four total touchdowns against USC. Mendoza generated two touchdown passes apiece in victories over Washington State and UCLA. His 294 passing yards, and three touchdown tosses in the win at Stanford were both season-highs. The 20-year old looked sharp in California’s spring game, after he completed seven of his 10 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

10. Tyler Shough, Louisville: The 24-year old is approaching a rare seventh season. Shough has been a starter in the Pac-12, and the Big 12. Now he’s taking his talents to the ACC, and hooking up with quarterback guru Jeff Brohm. Shough has all of the arm talent in the world, but struggles with staying healthy. The Arizona native has yet to complete a full season. However, Shough led Oregon to a Pac-12 Title in 2020. He has spent the past three seasons at Texas Tech, where he threw for 2,922 yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His 338 passing yards against Wyoming in 2023 were a season-high. Shough completed eight of his 12 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game.

9. Max Johnson, North Carolina: The former three-star prospect has been a starter at LSU, and Texas A&M. Johnson spent two seasons with the Bayou Bengals, where he threw for 3,884 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has played the last two seasons for the Aggies, and passed for 1,969 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions during that span. Last year he led Texas A&M to victories over Auburn, Arkansas and South Carolina. The 22-year old threw for a season-high, 305 yards, a touchdown and an interception at Ole Miss. Johnson completed eight of his nine passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. He’s battling Conner Harrell for the starting job.

8. Grayson McCall, NC State: The 23-year old has been one of the game’s most successful signal-callers over the past five seasons, in which he spent at Coastal Carolina. McCall led the Chanticleers to an 11-win campaign, which included a Sun Belt Title in 2020. He followed that up with an 11-2 record in 2021, and threw for a career-high, 27 touchdowns. McCall passed for 2,700 yards in 2022. He left the program as the all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdown tosses. The North Carolina native is a three-time, first-team, All-Sun Belt performer, and was named the league’s Player of the Year twice. McCall completed 16 of his 20 passes for 205 yards in NC State’s spring game.

7. Cade Klubnik, Clemson: The former five-star prospect led the Tigers to a 9-4 campaign in 2023. Klubnik finished third in the ACC in passing yards, and fourth in touchdown tosses. He threw for a season-high, 315 yards, four touchdowns and an interception against Charleston Southern. Klubnik also had four touchdown tosses against Georgia Tech. The Texas native scored four total touchdowns against Florida-Atlantic. Klubnik posted two passing touchdowns in the victory over Syracuse. The 20-year old also led Clemson to a win over Notre Dame. Klubnik completed 13 of his 26 passes for 158 yards in the spring game. Fan are expecting improvement in year two of Garrett Riley’s system.

6. DJ Uiagalelei, Florida State: The former five-star prospect is one of the most experienced gunslingers in the country. Uiagalelei spent three seasons at Clemson. He threw for 5,681 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions with the Tigers, and helped them win an ACC Title in 2022. Uiagalelei played at Oregon State last season, and passed for 2,638 yards, to go along with 27 total touchdowns. The Californian threw for three touchdowns, and rushed for two scores in the opener at San Jose State. Uiagalelei passed for a season-high, five touchdowns in the victory at California. The 23-year old struggled a bit, and completed 13 of his 29 passes for 184 yards in the Seminoles’ Spring Showcase.

5. Kyron Drones, Virginia Tech: The Texas native started 11 games for the Hokies last season, and led them to a bowl win for the first time since 2016. Drones did damage with his arm and legs, and scored 22 total touchdowns. Not to mention he led Virginia Tech to five victories in ACC play. Drones threw for 228 yards, and three touchdowns, to go along with two rushing scores against Pittsburgh. The 20-year old also passed for three touchdowns apiece against NC State and Virginia. His 321 passing yards against Wake Forest were a season-high. Drones left a lasting impression after he was named MVP of the Military Bowl. He threw two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder in the spring game.

4. Haynes King, Georgia Tech: The 23-year old played three seasons at Texas A&M before he landed in Atlanta. During that span King threw for 1,579 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. King is coming off a solid campaign in 2023, in which he led the ACC in passing touchdowns and total offense. Not to mention he was a team captain, the second-leading rusher, and helped Georgia Tech win a bowl game for the first time since 2016. King passed for four touchdowns apiece against South Carolina State, Bowling Green and North Carolina. However, he led the league with 16 interceptions. King was sharp in the spring game, and completed 11 of his 15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.

3. Preston Stone, SMU: The hometown kid did a marvelous job replacing Tanner Mordecai last year. Stone started 12 games, and led the Mustangs to a 10-2 record during the regular season. He finished 11th in the FBS in touchdown tosses, 13th in passing efficiency, 21st in passing yards per game and 23rd in total offense. Stone even capped off his stellar campaign with third-team, All-AAC honors. His five touchdown passes against Prairie View were a season-high. Stone threw for three touchdowns apiece in victories over East Carolina, Tulsa and Navy. Unfortunately, he broke his left fibula against the Midshipmen. Stone has returned to the gridiron, and was a full participant through spring ball.

2. Kyle McCord, Syracuse: The New Jersey native threw for 3,170 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions at Ohio State last season. McCord finished second in the Big Ten in passing yards, and passing efficiency. Not to mention he ranked 24th nationally in passing yards per game, and completion percentage. McCord helped the Buckeyes win their first 11 games. The 21-year old passed for three touchdowns apiece and no interceptions in wins over Youngstown State, Purdue, Western Kentucky and Michigan State. McCord capped off his campaign with third-team, All-Big Ten honors. The former four-star prospect completed 18 of his 28 passes for 242 yards and a score in his spring debut.

1. Cam Ward, Miami: The 22-year old played his first two seasons at Incarnate World, where he put up video game numbers. Ward has spent the past two seasons at Washington State, where he threw for 6,968 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. Last season Ward finished fourth in the FBS in passing yards per game, sixth in total offense and 20th in completion percentage. His 3,736 yards through the air was eighth-best nationally, and ninth all-time for a Cougar in a single-season. Ward threw for 400-plus yards against Colorado State, Oregon State, and Oregon. Fans are expecting him to duplicate those numbers and have a tremendous impact on Miami’s offense in the expanded ACC.

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