Quarterback is the most premium position on the football field, there is no questioning that. Historically, the Big Ten has been known for having some of the best quarterbacks in the nation, the same can be said for the 2022 season.
In the new era of college football, roster turnover is paramount, and the transfer portal is being used to shuffle rosters all over the country. The same goes for the quarterback position, and there are going to be some new faces signal-calling in the Big Ten in 2022.
Check out my prediction for each Big Ten teams’ projected starting quarterback in 2022:
Illinois - Tommy Devito
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Tommy Devito turned in his Syracuse orange and blue for some Illinois orange and blue. Bret Bielema will turn to the Syracuse graduate transfer to lead the Fighting Illini in 2022.
Indiana - Connor Bazelak
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Indiana lost starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to the transfer portal, but they may have gained his replacement in the portal as well. Bazelak has been the starter at the University of Missouri the past two seasons, throwing for over 5,000 yards while completing 66% of his passes.
Iowa - Spencer Petras
Spencer Petras helped lead the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten championship game in 2021, but it is no secret that the offense was very stagnant all season long. Unless Iowa hits the transfer portal, I believe Petras will get the nod to start the 2022 season.
Maryland - Taulia Tagovailoa
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Taulia Tagovailoa was a major bright spot for the Maryland Terrapins in 2021, leading the team to its first bowl game since 2016 and first bowl win since 2010. Tagovailoa will be back in 2022 and is in line for another big year.
Michigan - J.J. McCarthy
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This is all contingent on Jim Harbaugh staying at Michigan and not going to the NFL, because if Harbaugh were to leave, all of this could get crazy. Assuming Harbaugh stays, I believe he gives the keys to the car to J.J. McCarthy at the conclusion of spring ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Cade McNamara in the transfer portal as a result.
Michigan State - Payton Thorne
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Payton Thorne led the Michigan State Spartans to an 11-2 record in his first full season as a starter. Doing this as a redshirt sophomore was impressive being so young. Thorne will be back in 2022, looking to build on the successful run in 2021. He won’t have Kenneth Walker next season, so it will be interesting to see how well he will perform being the featured piece of the offense.
Minnesota - Tanner Morgan
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It was once believed Minnesota was going to have to turn to the transfer portal, or an inexperienced option on the roster, at quarterback next season. That won’t have to happen now that Tanner Morgan has announced his return for a sixth season at Minnesota, his fifth as the starting quarterback.
Nebraska - Casey Thompson
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Nebraska lost longtime starting quarterback Adrain Martinez to Kansas State via the transfer portal but they made a splash earning the commitment of former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, beating out the Oklahoma Sooners for Thompson’s services. Thompson will have the job as starting quarterback in a crucial year for Scott Frost’s tenure in Lincoln.
Northwestern - Ryan Hilinski
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Northwestern played musical chairs with their quarterbacks in 2021, playing Ryan Hilinski along with Andrew Marty and Hunter Johnson throughout the year. Hilinski got the most time at QB last season for the Wildcats and has youth on his side, I think he will get the nod to start 2022.
Ohio State - C.J. Stroud
Ohio State Buckeyes will be back in 2022 with a vengeance, trying to get back atop the Big Ten and back to the College Football Playoff. There’s no doubt in my mind C.J. Stroud will be leading the way in Columbus once again.
Penn State - Sean Clifford
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Sean Clifford announced that he would be back in 2022 for his sixth year of eligibility. Clifford will get the starting job to start the season, but if things start to go south, I wouldn’t be surprised if 5-star true freshman Drew Allar ends up taking over at some point.
Purdue - Aidan O'Connell
Aidan O’Connell is another player that announced their return for a sixth season of collegiate eligibility. Fresh off of a Music City Bowl win over Tennessee, O’Connell and Purdue have a lot of momentum heading into the 2022 season.
Rutgers - Gavin Wimsatt
[Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]
I believe Rutgers coach Greg Schiano will be ready to hand the keys over to Gavin Wimsatt at the conclusion of spring ball. Wimsatt early enrolled at Rutgers this past season and appeared in four games. Rutgers loves two-quarterback systems, but I think Wimsatt will ultimately be given the opportunity to take over this program.
Wisconsin - Graham Mertz
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Graham Mertz has had a very underwhelming career at Wisconsin to this point. Mertz came to Madison as a top 75, 4-star quarterback and quickly took Jack Coan’s job. Since then, Mertz has had two seasons as the starting quarterback, with both years ending up below expectations. Mertz will be back in 2022 for his third year as the quarterback in Madison, looking to finally exceed expectations.