-From the Orlando Sentinel
A pair of all-conference selections headlines a young and talented group of quarterbacks in the Sun Belt. Here is a look at where each school ranks at that position:
Justice Hansen earned Sun Belt offensive player of the year honors after leading the conference in total offense with 4,390 yards. He’s the top returning quarterback in the league this upcoming season and could be one of the key reasons the Red Wolves make another run at a title. Sophomore Logan Bonner, who served as primary backup, as well as Aldon Clark provide depth behind Hansen.
2. Louisiana Monroe
Caleb Evans put together a career-season, earning all-conference honorable mention after amassing more than 3,400 yards of total offense with 30 total touchdowns for the Warhawks. While there’s little doubt Evans will be the starter, the competition for his backup could be interesting especially after the transfers for Will Collins and former starter Garrett Smith back in December. Brennen Wooten, a junior college transfer, could push for the backup job as well.
Junior Jordan Davis started the first five games of last season for the Ragin’ Cajuns before being replaced midseason, first by Andre Nunez (2) and then Levi Lewis (4). The position will start out with a clean slate according to new coach Billy Napier, opening things up to everyone including Kadon Harrison.
Dallas Davis and Cole Garvin split time at quarterback last season for the Jaguars but despite their experience the competition for the job will be wide open as the group forced to learn a new offensive system under new coach Steve Campbell. Junior Evan Orth and redshirt freshman Cephus Johnson will also earn opportunities to compete for the job as well.
5. Georgia Southern
Shai Werts impressed in his first season as the team’s starting quarterback last season, accounting for more than 1,600 yards of total offense with 10 total touchdowns. Werts enters 2018 as the Eagles starter but that’s not to say there won’t be pressure to retain the job from redshirt senior LaBaron Anthony, redshirt senior Kado Brown and redshirt freshman Jaalon Frazier.
Troy is coming off back-to-back double-digit win seasons capped off with its sixth conference championship; the first under coach Neal Brown. The challenge for the Trojans and Brown will be finding a replacement for four-year starter Brandon Silvers, who finished his career with more than 10,000 yards passing. Junior Kaleb Barker and sophomore Sawyer Smith are the frontrunners for the job while sophomore Will Lovett, Kade Young and incoming freshman Gunnar Watson search for reps.
7. Texas State
The search for a new starting quarterback begins in spring for the Bobcats who must find a replacement for Damian Williams, who started every game in 2017. Williams’ backup, Willie Jones III, saw his fair share of plays last season and figures to lead the list of candidates for the job in 2018. He’ll face challenges from sophomore Jaylen Gipson and Kishawn Kelley as well as incoming freshman Tyler Vitt.
8. Coastal Carolina
Kilton Anderson stepped into the starting role the final three games, leading the Chanticleer’s to back-to-back wins to wrap up the 2017 season. The former transfer from Fresno State opened the spring as the team’s starter but he’ll need to do a better job of taking care of the football. Juniors Chance Thrasher, who started a game last season, and Austin Bradley will push Anderson for the job as well.
9. Georgia State
Conner Manning capped off his college career by leading Georgia State to its first bowl victory back in December. Now the Panthers must move on to find his replacement. Aaron Winchester, who spent the previous two seasons as Manning’s backup, seems the most likely candidate for the job. He’ll face challenges from redshirt freshman Jack Walker, freshman Swift Lyle and junior college transfer Danterius Ellington.
10. Appalachian State
Appalachian State moves on after the departure of four-year starter Taylor Lamb and the search begins for his replacement. Sophomore Zac Thomas separated himself from the pack this spring after serving as Lamb’s backup in 2017. A slew of contenders sit behind Thomas including redshirt freshman Peyton Derrick, sophomore Jacob Huesman and Stephon Brown, an early-enrollee freshman.