Who’s Under Center in the Sun Belt?

Checking In On the Sun Belt Quarterback Situation

You don’t have to be stroking your goatee while polishing your monocle to say that the position most vital to your team’s success is quarterback (no offense to long-snappers). The Sun Belt has enjoyed a steady stream of solid signal-calling for several seasons now. As of late, the talent seems to have only strengthened.

This year, the Sun Belt will see an uncharacteristic dip in experience. We’ll see barely a handful of seniors positioned behind center this season. Stalwarts like Grayson McCall, Chase Brice and Layne Hatcher do return, but the majority of players leading Sun Belt offenses will be transfers, sophomores and even freshman hurlers.

It’s always a bit risky to predict starters in July, but we need the clicks.

Returning for the Sun Belt West

James Blackman, Arkansas State Red Wolves

Challenger: Jaxon Dailey

Blackman, who saw limited action thanks to an uneven performance and injuries in 2021, completed 59% of his passes for 1,300 yards and 8 TDs last season. The Florida State transfer is said to be much improved and is challenged only by true freshman QB Jaxon Dailey and AJ Mayer, a recent transfer from Miami (OH).

Chandler Rogers, ULM Warhawks

Challenger: Jiya Wright

Rogers emerges as the leading choice for starter after sharing time with the now departed Rhett Rodriguez. Clearly the more effective of the Warhawks QBs last season, Rogers passed for 1,300 yards and 9 touchdowns in a year that saw six Warhawks see time behind center.

Layne Hatcher, Texas State Bobcats

Challenger: Ty Evans

Despite what appeared to be a solid corps on paper, the Bobcats never seemed to find THE MAN behind center. Enter Hatcher, a transfer from Arkansas State and former Sun Belt Freshman of the Year. Hatcher split time last season, but still threw for 2,400 yards and 19 TDs. His thirteen interceptions, however, are less than ideal.

Gunnar Watson, Troy Trojans

Challenger: Peter Costelli

Mizzou transfer Taylor began the 2021 season as the starter, but it was Watson who emerged to midseason to lead the Trojans. Watson tabbed 1,600 yards and 8 scores on 61% passing last season. He sees some pressure from Utah transfer Peter Costelli, and will have to gel with new head coach Jon Sumrall.

Returning for the Sun Belt East

Darren Grainger, Georgia State Panthers

Challenger: Steven Krajewski/Mikele Colasurdo

The Panthers started 2021 with promising returning QB Cornelious Brown, but it was the freshman Grainger who was handed the keys when Brown struggled. Grainer threw 19 TDs against only 4 picks last season and used his wheels to add three more scores on the ground.

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

Challenger: Bryce Carpenter

McCall enjoyed a stellar season in 2021, racking up nearly 2,900 yards and 27 touchdowns against thee picks. Despite some calls to enter the NFL draft, McCall chose to remain with the Chants. It should be noted that McCall missed all of Spring practice with an injury, which may lead to us seeing the capable Bryce Carpenter seeing snaps in 2022.

Chase Brice, Appalachian State

Challenger: Brady McBride

Perhaps nobody had a better 2021 season behind center than Brice, who threw for 3,300 yards and 27 TDs last season while leading the Mountaineers to a SBC East title. The big QB is challenged by talented Texas State transfer Brady McBride and the prospect of learning the system of a new OC.

Sun Belt Newbies

Henry Colombi Jr., Marshall Thundering Herd

Colombi, a senior, arrives to Marshall a transfer from Texas Tech and looks to take over for prolific yards machine Grant Wells. Colombi started five games for the Red Raiders in 2021, completing his Texas Tech career with 2,356 yards, 13 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

Hayden Wolf, Old Dominion Monarchs

The Monarchs added Notre Dame transfer Brendon Clark at QB, but Old Dominion looks to be rolling with sophomore Wolf, who completed 63% of his passes as a freshman. Wolf isn’t exactly a prolific scorer – just 10 TDs in 2021 – but he’s expected to make a skills leap as a returning starter.

Todd Centeio, James Madison Dukes

The Dukes lose legendary QB and last season’s CAA Offensive Player of the Year Cole Johnson, but they receive the services of senior Colorado State transfer Centeio, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards as the Rams starter in 2021.

Ty Keyes, Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Southern Miss was forced to play a whopping 10 players at QB last season, with Keyes and Trey Lowe surviving the attrition. Lowe may very well end up as starter, but for now, we’re leaning on Keyes, who only has 355 passing yards beneath his belt.

Sun Belt Fresh Faces

Carter Bradley Jr., South Alabama Jaguars

Desmond Trotter started 14 games for the Jags in 2021, but it appears that Toledo transfer Bradley may have the Kane Womack’s confidence. Carter led the Rockets to 4 victories and one defeat last season, and is said to have a good arm.

Chandler Fields, Louisiana Cajuns

Did it seem like Levi Lewis led the Cajuns at QB since the early 1990s? Yeah. Now it’s Fields’ turn, a dual threat QB, 3-star prospect who will see some pressure from Fresno transfer Ben Woolridge while also dealing with some massive losses to the offensive line.

Kyle Vantrease, Georgia Southern Eagles

New head coach Clay Helton is looking to alter the offensive philosophy of the Eagles, starting with Vantrease at QB. Vantrease is a long-time starter for Bulls of the MAC, and transfers from Buffalo with 26 starts worth of experience.

Photo Credit: Mine