The Best Group of 5 Quarterbacks You May Have Forgot

College Football is great for a number of reasons. While not everyone could beat anyone on any given Saturday (or Tuesday, if you love #MACtion…as you should), when massive underdogs do well, it’s great for the sport. The history of Group of 5 quarterbacks is a storied one but not everyone remembers each one.

Everyone knows how Derek Carr hails from Fresno State and that Case Keenum was ridiculous at Houston, but what about a few others who balled out in college and that’s it? The best thing about the Group of 5 (AAC, Conference-USA, MAC, Sun Belt, and Mountain West as of today) is when it has stars that garner national attention, it’s incredibly fun.

Hopefully, your mind is a steel trap. In any case that it isn’t, let’s remember a few exciting quarterbacks who tore it up.

Remembering The Best Group of 5 Quarterbacks You May Have Forgot

To start, let’s give props to Western Kentucky. Of the top 100 single-season passing performances, the Hilltoppers are first (Bailey Zappe, 2021), 15th (Brandon Doughty, 2015), 25th (Dougherty, 2014), 27th (Austin Reed, 2022), 63rd (Mike White, 2016), and 98th (White, 2018).

Only two programs have more than WKU’s six: Texas Tech (10) and Hawai’i (seven).

Colt Brennan, Hawai’i (2005-2007)

Before #PAC12AfterDark, there was Midnight WAC Attack (okay, I just made that up). Nobody expected Colt Brennan to fill the massive shoes that Timmy Chang (the second-most career passing yards in history with 17,072) left behind. And yet, Brennan took the Rainbow Warriors to new heights.

Brennan kicked off his Hawai’i career having his worse statistical year. A year, however, plenty of Power 5 quarterbacks — and even eventual top-five draft picks — never attained. In his first year as a starter, Brennan threw for 4,301 yards and 35 touchdowns while completing 68% of his passes.

2006 was by far his greatest. Brennan threw for 5,549 yards and 58 touchdowns and finished sixth in Heisman voting. Even then, the team went 11-3 after losing by eight to Alabama, seven to 13-0 BCS Buster Boise State, and three to Oregon State. That momentum carried Hawai’i into 2007 as Brennan led the team to a 12-0 mark, eventually losing to Georgia in the BCS Sugar Bowl.

That Hawai’i team led the nation in scoring with 43.4 points per game. Despite a drop in statistical output (4,343 yards, 38 touchdowns), Brennan finished third in Heisman voting and led his team to its greatest season in program history.

If you can get over the highlights that look like they were filmed with a potato, you should check out the crazy side-arm action he had.

AFter his time was up, Brennan was drafted in the sixth round by the NFL team residing in Washington, D.C. He never appeared in an NFL game and was out of the league in two years. Brennan passed away in May of 2021

Keenan Reynolds, Navy (2012-2015)

It’s difficult to forget just how good Keenan Reynolds was for the Navy Midshipmen in his time. In his first year of action, Reynolds carried the ball just 162 times for 649 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a freshman, he was just getting started in the patented triple-option offense. Despite the team experiencing some success, the best was yet to come for Reynolds and his athletic, play-making abilities.

2013 came around and Reynolds took on the most workload in his career. In total, Reynolds kept the ball in the triple-option 300 times for 1,346 yards and a ridiculous 31 touchdowns. Those 31 scores were tied with Colorado State’s Kapri Bibbs for the most in the nation and were eight more than the next. Additionally, he threw for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns!

2014 was a bit of a step back. With 250 attempts, Reynolds rushed for 1,191 yards and 23 touchdowns. Even if his total yardage went down, his yards per rush continued to increase (4.8 from 4.5). His time to shine came in the following year. In 2015, Reynolds led his Navy squad to an 11-2 record, losing to eventual AAC Champion, Houston, and Notre Dame. He finished with 1,373 yards and 24 touchdowns off of 265 carries and added 1,208 passing yards and eight touchdowns. His efforts earned him a fifth-place spot in Heisman voting.

His 88 career rushing touchdowns is still the most in Division I history and is 11 more than the next best. Reynolds was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round. After bouncing around NFL and only making two appearances as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, Reynolds tried his hand at the XFL in 2020.

He is currently an analyst for CBS.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois (2010-2013)

Quite possibly one of the more exciting, BCS-busting #MACtion quarterbacks out there, Jordan Lynch was an easy player to root for. After not doing much in his first two years, Lynch exploded onto the scene in 2012 and was the only MAC team to successfully break through. Oddly enough, the 2012 NIU squad was the final non-AQ team to participate in the BCS Bowls.

That 2012 season was insane for Lynch. In his first season as starter, he racked up 3,138 yards and 25 touchdowns through the air en route to MAC MVP, MAC Offensive Player of the Year, and Second-Team All-American Honors. The fact that he also added 1,815 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground helped him finish seventh in Heisman voting. On 11 occasions, Lynch threw and ran for well over 100 yards.

The hype train kept a-rollin’ into 2013. And, it was for good reason. Lynch finished the 2013 season with 2,892 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air and tacked on a bonkers 1,920 yards and 23 scores on the ground. While he only managed the 100/100 feat seven times, he did something even more impressive: he ran for over 315 yards…twice!

His impressive 2013 resulted in another round of MAC MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards to go with a First-Team All-American selection. All in all, Lynch finished third in Heisman voting.

Lynch went undrafted and signed as a running back with the Chicago Bears. After getting cut, he went on to score the game-winning touchdown in The Grey Cup for the Edmonton Eskimos. He has since retired and is now the head coach for his alma mater, Mount Carmel in Chicago, Illinois. In five seasons at the helm, Lynch has won two state titles, most recently in 2022.

Zac Dysert, Miami (OH) (2009-2012)

After elevating a small school in rural Ohio to elite heights, Zac Dysert turned his attention to the MAC. At Ada High School, Dysert finished his career with 11,174 yards (second-most in Ohio High School history) and 100 touchdowns. Dysert then went to Miami (OH) where he redshirted his first year in 2008.

Then, he took over as full-time starter. In 2009, Dysert beat out incumbent senior Daniel Raudabaugh and finished with 2,611 yards and 12 touchdowns. To say that team struggled would be a massive understatement. The Redhawks finished the year just 1-11 and was fifth-worst in terms of scoring. Might’ve been because Dysert’s offensive line allowed nearly five sacks per game and forced Dysert to lead the team with 149 rushing attempts. He finished with 258 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

In his second year at the helm, Dysert and the Redhawks took a big step forward. In 10 games, Dysert threw for 2,406 yards and 13 touchdowns. Out of necessity, he became more of a pocket passer. Even then, he ended up battling an injury and ultimately missed four games (including the MAC Championship and Bowl) with a lacerated spleen that he suffered in a win at Bowling Green in the infamous Fog Game.

After missing those games, there was an enhanced pressure for Dysert because the quarterback who won them Austin Boucher, looked like a youngster worth giving a shot. Dysert kicked it into another gear in 2011. Statistically, Dysert had a career year. In total, he threw for 3,513 yards (second-best in the MAC) and 23 touchdowns. Despite having to put the offense on his back and throwing for over 300 yards seven times, the Redhawks finished 4-10.

For his final year at Miami (OH), Dysert had to kick it into another gear again. It really looked like 2012 was going to be a big year after he threw for 303 yards and a score at Ohio State, the second-most passing yardage the eventual 12-0 Buckeyes would allow to a quarterback. On the year, Dysert would go on to lead the MAC in passing with 3,483 yards and 25 touchdowns. His efforts earned him Third-Team All-MAC.

At the end of his career, Dysert finished with 12,013 yards passing and 73 touchdowns. He ended up breaking Ben Roethlisberger‘s passing mark (10,829) and finished second behind Roethlisberger’s 84 touchdowns. Considering how legendary Roethlisberger’s Miami (OH) career was, finishing atop the leader board is notable in itself.

Dysert was drafted in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos to back up Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. After spending two years as QB3, Dysert bounced around the league before ultimately suffering a herniated disc as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. After being waived due to injury, Dysert did not appear in the NFL.

Main Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sport

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