Best in the Big Ten: Quarterback

A look at the expected top five quarterbacks in the Big Ten with the 2014 season still months away.

5.) C.J. Brown - Maryland: Here's a name you need to know. Maryland may not be a trendy pick heading into it's first season in the Big Ten, but the Terrapins have a decent shot to make some noise thanks to Brown. He's a sixth-year quarterback with plenty of experience after passing for 2,242 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2013. Everything was going Maryland's way during a 4-0 start, in which Brown was masterful, averaging 260 yards and winging 7 touchdowns to only one pick. A blowout at Florida State and injuries derailed Brown and the Terrapins. Brown missed two games and was limited in others, as Maryland limped to a 3-6 finish.

4.) Devin Gardner - Michigan: Don't lose sight of Gardner due to the Wolverines struggles last season. The rising senior had moments where he played as well as any quarterback in the country. He passed for 503 yards against Indiana and 451 in a close loss versus rival Ohio State. In total, Gardner threw for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and rushed for 483 yards and 11 scores. In the end, it was losses and inconsistencies that quelled Gardner's momentum as a top Big Ten signal caller. If the Wolverines are to return to the top of the conference, it will be Gardner that takes them there.

3.) Connor Cook - Michigan State: This guy knows how to win, always the best way for a quarterback to state his case as the best of… Last season started off slowly (Cook threw for less than 100 yards in each of the Spartans first two games, ugly wins against Western Michigan and South Florida), but Cook and the offense established an identity of winning against Big Ten foes. The Spartans got better and better each, winning 13 of 14 games, including the Big Ten title and an exciting Orange Bowl versus Stanford. Cook was in charge of it all, passing for 2,755 yards, 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Improving his completion percentage (58.7 percent) will go a long way toward making him the best in the Big Ten in 2014.

2.) Braxton Miller - Ohio State: The Buckeyes and coach Urban Meyer hit the jackpot with Miller — a dual-threat with skills to dominate the Big Ten, but not quite good or big enough to leave early for the NFL. Miller accounted for 36 touchdowns in 2013, passing for 2,094 yards and rushing for 1,068. Together, Meyer and Miller started out 24-0 together before losing the final two games — to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship and Clemson in the Orange Bowl — of 2013

1.) Christian Hackenberg - Penn State: Call me crazy (and I'd have a hard time discounting the claim), but I'm taking the sophomore Hackenberg over favorites Miller and Cook. Bill O'Brien leaving for the NFL doesn't help my argument, but Hackenberg's talent is too great to deny, regardless of how good a job you feel James Franklin will do. Hackenberg passed for 2,955 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a true freshman in 2013, a season that included a gutsy comeback four-overtime win against Michigan and a dominating finale performance at Wisconsin (339 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-24 win). Still with plenty of room to grow and get better, we're talking about a potential No. 1 overall draft pick. He's that good.


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