SEC: Brett Hundley

Winston edges Mariota in QB poll

September, 6, 2014
Sep 6
10:00
AM ET
Florida State's Jameis Winston edged out Oregon's Marcus Mariota as the nation's top quarterback according to the FBS coaches who voted in ESPN's weekly college football poll #1QFor128.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State's Jameis Winston carried 41 percent of the vote among FBS coaches as the nation's top quarterback this week.
Winston was the choice of 41 percent of the FBS coaches, followed closely by Mariota (35 percent). UCLA's Brett Hundley (9 percent), Baylor's Bryce Petty (6 percent) and Penn State's Christian Hackenberg (2 percent) rounded out the top five in the poll conducted by ESPN's Brett McMurphy.

Others receiving votes: East Carolina's Shane Carden, Marshall's Rakeem Cato, Notre Dame's Everett Golson, Texas A&M's Kenny Hill, Utah State's Chuckie Keeton, Arizona State's Taylor Kelly and Oregon State's Sean Mannion,

Of the Power 5 coaches (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12), 50 percent picked Winston, compared to only 26 percent for Mariota, 12 percent for Hundley and Hackenberg at 5 percent.

However, the Group of 5 coaches (American, C-USA, MAC, MWC and Sun Belt), chose Mariota over Winston by a 42 to 34 percent margin. Hundley and Petty tied for third at 6 percent each among the Group of 5 coaches.

Of the 128 FBS coaches, 102 participated in ESPN's weekly confidential poll. Coaches could not vote for their own team. Last week, 51 percent of the coaches predicted Florida State would win the national title, followed by Alabama (18 percent), Oklahoma (11 percent) and Ohio State (7 percent).

BREAKDOWN
Overall
Jameis Winston, FSU 41 percent
Marcus Mariota, Oregon 35 percent
Brett Hundley, UCLA 9 percent
Bryce Petty, Baylor 6 percent
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State 2 percent
Shane Carden, East Carolina 1 percent
Rakeem Cato, Marshall 1 percent
Everett Golson, Notre Dame 1 percent
Kenny Hill, Texas A&M 1 percent
Chuckie Keaton, Utah State 1 percent
Todd Kelly, Arizona State 1 percent
Sean Mannion, Oregon State 1 percent

Power 5 coaches
Jameis Winston, FSU 50 percent
Marcus Mariota, Oregon 26 percent
Brett Hundley, UCLA 12 percent
Bryce Petty, Baylor 5 percent
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State 2 percent
Chuckie Keaton, Utah State 2 percent
Todd Kelly, Arizona State 2 percent

Group of 5 coaches
Marcus Mariota, Oregon 42 percent
Jameis Winston, FSU 34 percent
Brett Hundley, UCLA 6 percent
Bryce Petty, Baylor 6 percent
Shane Carden, East Carolina 2 percent
Rakeem Cato, Marshall 2 percent
Everett Golson, Notre Dame 2 percent
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State 2 percent
Kenny Hill, Texas A&M 2 percent
Sean Mannion, Oregon State 2 percent

Note: 102 of 128 FBS coaches participated


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It should come as no surprise AJ McCarron has opted to return to the University of Alabama for his senior season. While the junior quarterback is among the best -- and maybe more appropriately the most efficient -- signal-callers in the country, his play down the stretch has done little to help his NFL draft stock.

As coach Nick Saban is oft to suggest to his players, you don't leave school early unless you are poised to go in the first round of the draft. It would have come as a shock if McCarron were to come off the board that early, leapfrogging the likes of West Virginia's Geno Smith, Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, Florida State's E.J. Manuel, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and possibly Georgia's Aaron Murray.

"To me, he certainly doesn't look like a first-round pick," ESPN college football and draft analyst Kevin Weidl explained. Weidl said he'd start with the third round for McCarron at this point: "He needs to get stronger, sturdier in the pocket and improve some accuracy issues I saw at times."

[+] EnlargeSaban-McCarron
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesHad AJ McCarron left Alabama early for the NFL, Nick Saban would have lacked a QB with experience.
McCarron was a non-factor in the last three games he played against ranked teams this season. Weidl said he looked at the film and saw his decision-making "tail off at the end." McCarron threw for a then-season-low 165 yards at LSU on Nov. 3. The next week, he struggled against Texas A&M, breaking his streak of 290-plus pass attempts without an interception by throwing two key picks in a loss to the Aggies. McCarron rebounded nicely against a pair of sub-.500 teams in Western Carolina and Auburn, only to hit the skids again against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, attempting just 21 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.

"He showed very good maturity in looking at all of the factors and making an informed decision on his future," Saban said in a released statement. "He has a chance to add to what he has already accomplished here while also better preparing himself for the next level. We’re excited to have him back for his senior season."

By returning for another season, McCarron has the chance to solidify his position as one of the best quarterback prospects in the country. His 173.08 passer rating was tops in college football this season. The only thing remaining for him to prove is consistency and measurables he might face at the NFL combine.

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