Ranking expected Big Ten starting quarterbacks in 2023

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It’s a fascinating lineup of possible Big Ten starters in 2023 with a little bit of everything mixed in.

You have highly-touted recruits getting their first taste of real Big Ten action in Drew Allar and Kyle McCord, you have transfers who have succeeded elsewhere coming in to lead a Big Ten team to new heights (hello, Tanner Mordecai), and everything in between.

From players who have never started a college game to standouts a year ago looking to take another step forward, there are a number of names to watch. Here is how we sorted out the quarterback rooms this spring:

The Rutgers situation

Sep 3, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Evan Simon (3) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights running back Kyle Monangai (23) celebrate after defeating the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a proven option for Rutgers under center. Gavin Wimsatt and Evan Simon seem to be the two likely options, and last year was a revolving door at the position. Wimsatt is likely in line to start, but struggled with ball security last year as he threw seven interceptions compared to just five touchdown passes.

The Indiana situation

Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen walks along the sideline during the fourth quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. Credit: Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK

Connor Bazelak is out in Bloomington, and with that they return Dexter Williams and bring in Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson.

Jackson seems to be in line for a chance to start, and the former four-star recruit is a relative unknown as he sat behind experienced quarterbacks at Tennessee.

Ryan Hilinksi – Northwestern

Northwestern quarterback Ryan Hilinski (12) throws during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Cfb Purdue Vs Northwestern

After the upset win over Nebraska, everything went downhill for Hilinski and the Wildcats in 2022. He has far and away the most experience in the room, but it hasn’t necessarily been good experience. Last year, he threw seven interceptions and six touchdowns.

Luke Altmyer – Illinois

Oct 22, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Luke Altmyer (7) warms up on a time out again the LSU Tigers during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Altmyer comes to Illinois by way of Ole Miss, where he was a four-star prospect who never had the chance to lead the Rebels. Similarly to Jackson at Indiana, he was a highly-touted prospect who at this point is a relative unknown.

Cade McNamara – Iowa

Dec 31, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara (12) looks to throw against the Georgia Bulldogs in the third quarter during the Orange Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

This match feels doomed from the start. McNamra is a solid Big Ten quarterback, but Iowa retaining offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz after a disastrous 2022 season doesn’t bode well.

In 2021, McNamara threw for 2,576 and 15 touchdowns as the starter for Michigan.

Hudson Card – Purdue

Texas quarterback Hudson Card (1) directs the Longhorns offense during the game against West Virginia at Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas on Oct. 1, 2022.
Syndication Journal Sentinel

Another transfer! Card comes to Purdue by way of Texas, where he came in after Quinn Ewers went down with an injury against Alabama. A new head coach in Ryan Walters will look to continue the offensive success Purdue had with the Jeff Brohm/Aidan O’Connell combination in 2022.

Athan Kaliakmanis – Minnesota

Nov 26, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis (8) rushes with the football as Wisconsin Badgers safety John Torchio (15) defends during the second quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe we are a little biased because he looked good against the Badgers, but Tanner Morgan’s successor in Minnesota is Athan Kaliakmanis.

He had up and down moments during his time as a starter near the end of last season. Taking care of the football will be the most important aspect given his lack of experience at the Big Ten level, but the physical tools are there.

Casey Thompson OR Jeff Simms – Nebraska

Sep 3, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Casey Thompson (11) passes against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Casey Thompson had more good than bad in year one at Nebraska even if the Cornhuskers didn’t win as many games as they had hoped.

It’s Matt Rhule time in Lincoln, and new transfer quarterback Jeff Simms is in the building from Georgia Tech. This will be a fascinating battle to watch in the offseason.

 

Kyle McCord – Ohio State

Sat., Jan. 1, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day celebrates following the Buckeyes’ 48-45 victory against the Utah Utes in the 108th Rose Bowl Game.

The guy above will create an elite offense once again at Ohio State, but how will Kyle McCord look while taking over the reigns? He is a hard one to place given how little we know about him at the collegiate level, but everything is set up for him to succeed in year one as a starter.

Payton Thorne – Michigan State

Dec 30, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne (10) celebrates after a victory against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second half during the 2021 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

2021 was a monster year for Thorne and the Spartans, but they took a step back in 2022. Will we get the 2021 version that threw for 3,232 yards, or more of the 2022 version?

Drew Allar – Penn State

Sep 10, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) runs with the ball while trying to avoid a tackle during the third quarter against the Ohio Bobcats at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Ohio 46-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Drew Allar. It’s the Allar era for the Nittany Lions after a long run for Sean Clifford.

The five-star recruit played sparingly last year, but the potential is through the roof for one of the highest-rated players Penn State has ever landed at the position.

Tanner Mordecai – Wisconsin

1Oct 5, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) warms up before a game against the UCF Knights at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Potential is one thing, but how about guys who have been there and done that at the collegiate level? Last season, Mordecai led SMU and was 18th in the country with 3,524 yards and eighth in the nation with 33 touchdown passes.

It’s a new-look offense under Phil Longo with a new-look quarterback.

Taulia Tagovailoa – Maryland

Nov 5, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

These top spots are all reserved for guys who have been there and done that. He threw for 3,008 yards last season while throwing 18 touchdowns. The dual-threat ability makes him one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the country. This feels like the year it all comes together for Tagovailoa.

J.J. McCarthy – Michigan

Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the sidelines during the second half against the Connecticut Huskies at Michigan Stadium, Saturday, September 17, 2022.
Mich Conn

Despite the College Football Playoff loss, McCarthy had a tremendous 2022 season with Michigan. The playmaking as a runner and a passer was on display, although the deep ball was a concern at times as our friends at WolverinesWire mentioned in their rankings.

Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire

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