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CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31250541 Filling some big shoes Filling+some+big+shoes CFB

With 10 FBS quarterbacks being selected in April’s NFL Draft (including No. 2 and 1 respectively, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck) and several others accepting training camp invitations, there will be a lot of big, empty shoes to fill on college campuses around the country. Fortunately, those departures leave the door open for new talent to blossom, and in today’s world of big-time college football, there’s always another four- or five-star gunslinger ready to answer the bell. Here are 15 schools with quarterbacks who will replace departed stars and hopefully begin to define their own college football legacies.


— Sam Gardner

James Lang - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31250511 Baylor: Robert Griffin III to Nick Florence Baylor%3A+Robert+Griffin+III+to+Nick+Florence CFB

Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 overall draft pick by the Washington Redskins, spoiled Baylor with 4,293 yards passing and 699 rushing en route to a surprising 10-3 season. His departure leaves Baylor with a massive hole at quarterback, but Florence should be a steady replacement. He threw for 1,786 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions as a freshman in 2009, when Griffin III missed most of the season with a knee injury, and he’s expected to take over again for his senior season.

Jerome Miron / Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31250512 Stanford: Andrew Luck to Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes Stanford%3A+Andrew+Luck+to+Brett+Nottingham+or+Josh+Nunes CFB

All Luck did was rewrite Stanford’s record book, lead the Cardinal to two BCS bowls in three years and get drafted No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts. Sophomore Brett Nottingham and junior Josh Nunes have emerged as the most likely replacements, but neither has much experience. Nottingham completed 5 of 8 passes for 78 yards last year; Nunes did not play because of a toe injury. Coach David Shaw isn’t expected to name a starter until the end of camp. On Aug. 21, it was announced that Nunes had won the starting roll.

Mark J. Rebilas / Jason O. Watson / Kelley L Cox - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31253216 Boise State: Kellen Moore to Joe Southwick Boise+State%3A+Kellen+Moore+to+Joe+Southwick CFB

When coach Chris Petersen released his fall depth chart, he listed Southwick, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea and Nick Patti in the starting QB slot. It’ll be Southwick, a junior who has thrown for 400 yards and two touchdowns on 40-of-54 passing the past two years, but all four QBs — playing at the same time — would be hard-pressed to match Moore. The four-year starter finished with 14,667 career passing yards and an NCAA-record 50 victories.

Brian Losness / Brian Losness - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31253217 Oklahoma State: Brandon Weeden to Wes Lunt Oklahoma+State%3A+Brandon+Weeden+to+Wes+Lunt CFB

The Cowboys will be going younger — 10 years younger — in replacing the 28-year-old Weeden with the freshman Lunt, an early enrollee who beat out junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh for the starting job in April. Lunt threw for more than 7,000 yards and 65 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons at Rochester (Ill.) High School. Weeden, the No. 22 overall pick by Cleveland, gets the Browns’ starting job after passing for 4,727 yards and 34 touchdowns last season.

Beth Hall / Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31253218 Houston: Case Keenum to David Piland Houston%3A+Case+Keenum+to+David+Piland CFB

It’s never easy to replace the NCAA’s all-time passing leader, but Piland has done it before. As a freshman in 2010, Piland filled in for the injured Keenum, throwing for 2,641 yards and 24 touchdowns in his absence. Piland took a redshirt last year as Keenum returned and broke Timmy Chang’s all-time passing yards record and Graham Harrell’s completions and touchdown records.

Brett Davis / Chuck Cook - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31253219 Wisconsin: Russell Wilson to Danny O’Brien Wisconsin%3A+Russell+Wilson+to+Danny+O%26rsquo%3BBrien CFB

Wisconsin might have struck gold for the second straight season, picking up a coveted QB transfer with no playing restrictions to fill a void. Last year it was Wilson, who transferred from North Carolina State, then led the Big Ten with 33 passing touchdowns. Now it’s O’Brien, a former Maryland QB who has stepped in with a post-graduate transfer and saved Wisconsin from having to start freshman Joel Stave or sophomore Joe Brennan.

Gary A. Vasquez / Mitch Stringer - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31253220 Oregon: Darron Thomas to Bryan Bennett Oregon%3A+Darron+Thomas+to+Bryan+Bennett CFB

Thomas shocked Ducks fans when he left early for the draft after last season, only to go undrafted, but Oregon should be in fine shape without him. Bennett, a sophomore, played well as Thomas’ backup last year, throwing for 369 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions and running for 200 yards on 23 carries. He’ll still have De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner at running back to help shoulder some of the load.

Gary A. Vasquez / Jason O. Watson - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31251620 LSU: Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee to Zach Mettenberger LSU%3A+Jordan+Jefferson%2FJarrett+Lee+to+Zach+Mettenberger CFB

LSU’s senior QB duo left little room for Mettenberger to play for last year’s national runner-up. But now the former Georgia signee should be able to make a name for himself. He was effective in limited action last year as the No. 3 guy, completing 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, and LSU will need him to play like that full-time if it’s going to live up to its No. 1 billing.

Derick E. Hingle/Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31247023 Michigan State: Kirk Cousins to Andrew Maxwell Michigan+State%3A+Kirk+Cousins+to+Andrew+Maxwell CFB

Cousins left for the NFL as the Spartans’ all-time leader in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Maxwell, a junior, played well in spot duty as Cousins’ backup, completing 29 of 54 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown over the past two seasons. But he never has thrown more than 10 passes in a game.

Mike Carter/Jeff Griffith - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31251618 Arizona: Nick Foles to Matt Scott Arizona%3A+Nick+Foles+to+Matt+Scott CFB

As a sophomore, Scott lost his starting job to Foles, a Michigan State transfer, after three games. With Foles now toiling with the Philadelphia Eagles after being drafted in the third round this spring, Scott finally will get a second chance, and his dual-threat skills could make him the perfect player to excel in new coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread-option offense.

Mark J. Rebilas/Jim Z. Rider - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31252252 ASU: Brock Osweiler to Mike Bercovici, Taylor Kelly or Michael Eubank ASU%3A+Brock+Osweiler+to+Mike+Bercovici%2C+Taylor+Kelly+or+Michael+Eubank CFB

Sophomores Bercovici and Kelly and redshirt freshman Eubank are in a three-way battle to replace Osweiler, now Peyton Manning’s backup with the Denver Broncos. New coach Todd Graham would like to find a starter quickly but certainly no later than Aug. 18, the team’s second scrimmage. If he plays two QBs this season, that would seem to favor Eubank, a dual threat at 6-foot-5, 242 pounds. On Aug. 20, it was announced that Kelly would be the starter.

James Snook-Jennifer Hilderbrand-Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31253533 Florida: John Brantley to Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel Florida%3A+John+Brantley+to+Jacoby+Brissett+or+Jeff+Driskel CFB

Brantley couldn’t live up to the expectations of replacing Tim Tebow, but this year a QB battle is brewing in Gainesville that might get fans excited. Both Driskel and Brissett played as true freshmen last year after an ankle injury to Brantley, and neither stood out. But there will be a lot of excitement if for no other reason than because neither is Brantley, who — fair or not — was largely blamed for two subpar seasons. A recent shoulder injury to Driskel may tip the job in favor of Brissett.

Kim Klement and Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31248668 Miami: Jacory Harris to Stephen Morris or Ryan Williams Miami%3A+Jacory+Harris+to+Stephen+Morris+or+Ryan+Williams CFB

When Stephen Morris started the final four games of his freshman season (2010) in place of Harris, it seemed he might be the starter for 2011. Harris returned with a resurgent senior season, though, and Morris, after undergoing offseason back surgery this February, watched redshirt sophomore Williams take his job — at least for the moment. Morris is healthy now and was named the Week 1 starter on Aug. 14.

Steve Mitchell, Mitch Stringer and Brad Barr - USA TODAY Sports
CFB 24 43 Top quarterback replacements for 2012 31252317 Tulsa: G.J. Kinne to Cody Green Tulsa%3A+G.J.+Kinne+to+Cody+Green CFB

With Kinne, the 2010 Conference USA offensive player of the year, gone after three seasons as the starting quarterback, it’ll be up to Green to lead the Golden Hurricane to their third straight bowl appearance. A former Nebraska quarterback, Green completed 66 of 122 passes for 657 yards, five TDs and three interceptions in 17 games, including four starts, for the Huskers.

Jerome Miron and Brett Davis - USA TODAY Sports
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