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Best Returning Big Ten Quarterbacks

best returning big ten quarterbacks

As Last Word continues its look at the best returning players, by position, by conference, we turn to the Big Ten. Who are the best returning Big Ten quarterbacks for the 2023 college football season? Well, there are not many that do return with tons of experience. There are only three with considerable playing time in one of the premier conferences. Some of the teams went transfer portal to replace former signal-callers with the likes of Hudson Card (Purdue), Luke Altmyer (Illinois), and Jeff Sims (Nebraska) to name a few. Here is our look at the best returning Big Ten quarterbacks.

Best Returning Big Ten Quarterbacks

#5: Kyle McCord, Ohio State

Kyle McCord has the difficult task of replacing the extremely talented C.J. Stroud. McCord is the least experienced quarterback on this list but does not lack talent. The former four-star recruit appears to be the favorite to land the starting role after the spring. He went 18 of 34 for 184 yards and one touchdown in the annual event and showed the ability to move the Buckeyes’ offense. In limited action over the last two seasons, McCord has passed for 606 yards and three touchdowns. He also has a 71% completion percentage. He has a way to go but could be one of the best returning Big Ten quarterbacks.

#4: Athan Kaliakmanis, Minnesota

Tanner Morgan spent six seasons with the Gophers, and now that he is gone he leaves some big shoes to fill. Minnesota may very well have the guy to fill them. Athan Kaliakmanis showed last season when Morgan was out with injury, he was fully capable of being the leader. As a freshman, he passed for 946 yards and three touchdowns and had a big performance against Wisconsin. In the regular season finale, Kaliakmanis passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns for a 23-16 victory. He was seven of nine for 80 yards before getting hurt in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse. He will have some solid receivers to work with in Chris Autman-Bell and Daniel Jackson. Tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford will be a tough matchup for teams as well.

#3: Cade McNamara, Iowa

Cade McNamara is a returning Big Ten quarterback with a different team. The former Michigan Wolverine will try to add some punch to the struggling Iowa offense. Last season McNamara was demoted to second string, but he was the main signal caller in 2021 when Michigan made it to the College Football Playoff. In that season he threw for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns with a 64% completion rate. He led the Wolverines to their first win over Ohio State after eight consecutive defeats. He will now lead an offense that was one of the worse in college football in 2021 averaging just 251.6 yards per game and 17.7 points.

#2: J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Despite playing in an offense based around the run game, J.J. McCarthy finished fifth in the Big Ten in passing with 2,719 yards. More importantly, McCarthy was able to lead the Wolverines to another trip to the College Football Playoffs. Despite the loss to TCU, he was able to have a big day statistically. McCarthy passed for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Expectations will be high for the 2023 season for both the Wolverines and McCarthy to get to the championship. McCarthy added 22 touchdown passes and only threw five interceptions. He will need to show more growth as a player and leader due to receiver being a weakness for the team. McCarthy will have a great backfield teammate in the returning Blake Corum at running back.

#1: Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland

Taulia Tagovailoa is the best returning Big Ten quarterback with 3,008 yards last season. Surprisingly he only had 18 touchdowns on the season but completed 67% of his passes. Tagovailoa went over 300 yards four times through the air and led the Terrapins to an 8-5 record. He closed out the regular season passing for 342 yards against Rutgers for a 37-0 win. Maryland does return running back Roman Hemby and receiver Jeshaun Jones to give Tagovailoa plenty of options. After being second-team All-Big Ten in 2022, it is possible to see a bump up to first team in 2023.


best returning big ten quarterbacks

Photo courtesy: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports


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