Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford owned the college football spotlight throughout their careers. But the quarterback trio, along with much-publicized Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, heads to the NFL.
So we move into a new decade with new stars at the most important position on the field. A look at the top five quarterbacks heading into the 2010 season:
1. Ryan Mallett, Jr., Arkansas
Why him? In just one season, the Michigan transfer has blossomed under coach Bobby Petrino. In addition to recovering from a foot injury that will sideline him for at least three months, Mallett's accuracy and decision making still need to improve. But he's the most talented of the group left in college — and could've been the first quarterback picked in the April NFL draft had he left school.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt says: "He's a big-time talent. He can make all the throws and has that leadership quality you look for. When we saw him in high school, we knew he was going to be a special player. He has all the tools: a big, physical guy with a big arm."
2. Kellen Moore, Jr., Boise State
Why him? He's 26-1 in two seasons as a starter, and not only are the numbers (64 TDs, 13 interceptions) impressive, he's way ahead of the curve with intangibles. WAC coaches say his arm strength has improved significantly from his freshman season.
TCU coach Gary Patterson says: "I was just really impressed with his poise. My goodness, is he going to be a good one next year. He stands in there and makes throws and takes hits and pops right back up. You don't see that very often."
3. Jake Locker, Sr., Washington
Why him? A physical specimen, Locker still is raw in his mechanics and decision making. He may have the most upside of the group and will benefit from one more season under Washington coach/quarterback guru Steve Sarkisian.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly says: "I love Jake as a player. Just a tough kid with a ton of talent who plays with a lot of passion. You like to see guys who need one more year stay and continue to learn and reach their potential. I see him doing that, no doubt."
4. Case Keenum, Sr., Houston
Why him? He's not necessarily an elite NFL prospect, but he'll break numerous NCAA career records in 2010 with another big season. The goal next fall is twofold: improve his NFL stock and lead Houston to a BCS bowl.
Tulsa coach Todd Graham says: "You're going to work when you play against him, I'll tell you that. He can make so many different throws. What's really dangerous is he keeps plays alive and is accurate on the run. What's impressive is he gets better every season."
CFT: The Detroit Lions are expected to own and operate their own bowl game at Ford Field, starting play in 2014, according to a report by ESPN.
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