AAC QB Rankings 2023: Michael Pratt Tops the Charts Easily Following Injury to Preston Stone

    Michael Pratt out-dueled Frank Harris to earn a place in the American Athletic Conference Championship and cemented his place atop the AAC QB Rankings.

    Our weekly iteration of our 2023 AAC QB Rankings is here, taking a look at where they stack up through 13 weeks of the season. Tulane QB Michael Pratt leads the Green Wave into the AAC Championship Game against SMU, who unfortunately lost Preston Stone to an injury in Week 13.

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    2023 AAC QB Rankings

    As with all of our conference rankings and our national quarterback evaluations, the American Athletic QB rankings below consider everything involved with quarterbacking at the major college football level.

    While statistics are listed, they were not the lone deciding factor in ranking the athletes. The list below prefers programs with a solidified quarterback situation and one signal-caller who plays significant snaps against top-tier competition. Two-quarterback systems will always be looked down upon, especially in those cases where an answer has not yet been provided for the long term.

    Other factors in these rankings include but are not limited to game film, injury history, play-calling, offensive system knowledge and continuity, general quarterbacking mechanics, level of competition, the elevation of supporting casts, and several other influential factors.

    All QB Rankings: 1-133 | ACC | B1G | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC | AAC | C-USA | MAC | MWC | Sun Belt | FBS Ind. 

    The Coaching Carousel is in full swing. Stay updated with the entire College Football Coaching Carousel here to find all the latest coaching firings, hirings, and rumors.

    Tier 1: The Elite AAC QBs

    1) Michael Pratt | Tulane

    Last Week’s Ranking: 1st (no change)
    Yards: 2,168 | TDs: 21 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 66.4% | YPA: 8.7

    If it were his final regular season game as a member of the Tulane Green Wave, what a way it was to go out for Michael Pratt. The longtime Tulane signal-caller put forth an impressive effort against a very talented UTSA defense and came out victorious, pushing the Green Wave back to the AAC Championship Game.

    Pratt threw for two scores and could have had a much better day with a bit more help from his receivers against the Roadrunners. His dual-threat ability remains undefeated, and Pratt ran for another 50 yards on the ground as he once again proved he’d do whatever it took to get the win for his team.

    For the season, Pratt has closed off a history feat, throwing for at least 20 touchdowns for the fourth straight season. In 2023, however, he’s cut down on the interceptions and is playing his best football as he leads the Wave back to the AAC Championship and likely a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

    2) Frank Harris | UTSA

    Last Week’s Ranking: 2nd (no change)
    Yards: 2,506 | TDs: 18 | INT: 8 | Comp. %: 64.8% | YPA: 7.5

    It didn’t go the way they wanted, but let it be known that the majority of the ill-fated throws from Frank Harris against Tulane weren’t his fault. A few unlucky bounces ultimately did the Roadrunners in against the Green Wave and Harris was hardly effective with the amount of pressure that got home in the de facto AAC Championship Semifinal game.

    Still, at his best, Harris is arguably one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time. Injuries certainly got the best of him to start the season, but UTSA caught their stride once he returned.

    A dynamic dual-threat, Harris stands as an 11,858-yard career thrower with over 2,100 career rushing yards. He’s not gotten the respect nationally for his accurate passes downfield and is every bit of a prototypical quarterback when he has time to do so.

    Hopefully, we’ll see him for one last ride in a bowl game as the leader of the UTSA program.

    3) Preston Stone | SMU

    Last Week’s Ranking: 3rd (no change)
    Yards: 3,197 | TDs: 28 | INT: 6 | Comp. %: 59.9% | YPA: 9.3

    What a first half of action it was for Preston Stone against Navy. In what felt like a Week 13 showcase game for his talents, Stone did not disappoint. Yet, the end result was very disappointing after Stone went down hard with an apparent left leg injury.

    Stone threw for three touchdowns and over 300 yards on just 14 completions before injury, working the field brilliantly with his eyes and arm talent. It was the finest form we’ve seen Stone in, making his injury all the more devastating.

    In relief, Kevin Jennings played well but wasn’t asked to do a whole lot. The AAC Championship Game hangs in the balance of any Preston Stone Injury Update we receive.

    4) Seth Henigan | Memphis

    Last Week’s Ranking: 4th (no change)
    Yards: 3,516 | TDs: 24 | INT: 8 | Comp. %: 66.4% | YPA: 7.9

    In a conference dominated by top-tier quarterback play, Seth Henigan’s name belongs right near the top. Henigan finished his 2023 regular season with a four-touchdown showing against Temple and ended his third year as the starting quarterback for the Memphis Tigers on a high note.

    Henigan lit up the field with his usual accuracy, touch, and power, hitting every level of the field with ease from the opening snap of the game. Henigan hit four different receivers for a touchdown against Temple and will have a bowl game to increase 3,516 passing yards to a new career-high.

    Henigan has now thrown for over 3,300 yards and 22 touchdown passes or more in each of the past three seasons. He’s a touchdown away from his career-best mark of 25 and 55 yards away from his career-best mark of 3,571 passing yards. Memphis goes as Henigan goes, and that was to the tune of nine wins in 2023, a drastic improvement from last year’s 7-6 record.

    5) Chandler Rogers | North Texas

    Last Week’s Ranking: 5th (no change)
    Yards: 3,383 | TDs: 29 | INT: 5 | Comp. %: 62.2% | YPA: 8.0

    Chandler Rogers is never going to be a boring quarterback, that’s for sure. And when he’s on his game, he is absolutely one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Rogers lit up the field against UAB for over 400 yards and three scores in a dramatic victory.

    Considering bowl eligibility wasn’t even in the cards, Rogers’ resolve is duly noted. The Mean Green QB fought back from some poor defensive play on his side, and ended the season on a particularly high not for North Texas.

    He hit every level of the field incredibly well and showcased a great feel for what the defense was presenting pre-snap. Rogers took what they gave him and forced a few balls into some tight windows with great success.

    And that about sums up his entire season. Since entering the lineup for Stone Earle, Rogers gave the Mean Green a chance to win weekly. His play elevated the players around him and it’s still a shock that he wasn’t the season-opening starter.

    Tier 2: Well-Above-Average AAC QBs

    6) Byrum Brown | USF

    Last Week’s Ranking: 6th (no change)
    Yards: 3,078 | TDs: 23 | INT: 11 | Comp. %: 64.3% | YPA: 7.7

    What a job it’s been by Alex Golesh and staff to get this USF team to a bowl game in 2023. But as much credit as you give to Golesh, you have to also give to Byrum Brown. The dynamic dual-threat quarterback has given this team a chance to succeed at every turn this fall.

    Brown threw for four touchdowns against Charlotte in a game that hardly felt like it was never not in control, still flashing some solid fundamentals and growth in the process. It wasn’t without issue as he also threw an interception from a clean pocket and had some balls that could’ve been picked off all the same on the outside.

    However, those feel more like the throws of a quarterback trusting his arm too much in a situation that was getting out of hand than it felt like issues that can’t be corrected. Brown is as dynamic as they come and the growth he’s shown in 2023 is a clear indicator of where this program is heading.

    7) Jacob Zeno | UAB

    Last Week’s Ranking: 7th (no change)
    Yards: 3,126 | TDs: 20 | INT: 9 | Comp. %: 73.6% | YPA: 8.2

    Continuing to look like the former Power Five quarterback he once was with Baylor, Jacob Zeno and the UAB Blazers put up a fight one final time in 2023. It came away on the wrong end for them, like so many other close games did this season, but the Blazers look like they’re ready to compete in the AAC in the future.

    Zeno saw plenty of pressure on him in 2023 and that was no different in Week 13. He pushed the ball plenty against North Texas, and good things came when he did.

    This offense is going to be one of the fastest offenses in the country in terms of snap-to-pass, and after Zeno, they’ll certainly need a cerebral quarterback to continue the success they can build on from 2023. While the year goes down as a failure in terms of no postseason play, the building blocks are there for the Blazers going forward.

    Tier 3: Above-Average AAC QBs

    8) JT Daniels, AJ Padgett | Rice

    Last Week’s Ranking: 8th (no change)
    Yards: 2,443 | TDs: 21 | INT: 7 | Comp. %: 63.1% | YPA: 8.5

    The Rice Owls needed their Week 13 game more than FAU did and it showed. Rice reached a bowl game by knocking off FAU in the final regular season game of the season and they certainly have AJ Padgett to thank for that.

    Taking over for JT Daniels back in Week 11, Padgett has been sharp in relief. While certainly not challenging for the top tier just yet, the pieces are in place for the Owls quarterback of the future.

    Padgett improved with each start and flashed some serious arm talent. Though some questions have been raised about his decision-making and ball placement, Padgett is unfazed and willing to continue to throw his receivers open and find them in space all the same.

    Daniels put forth quite a display early in the season and this quarterback situation under Mike Blomgren is one of the best in the conference when it comes to losing very little once you go from QB1 to QB2.

    Tier 4: Average AAC QBs

    9) E.J. Warner | Temple

    Last Week’s Ranking: 10th (+1)
    Yards: 3,076 | TDs: 23 | INT: 12 | Comp. %: 57.5% | YPA: 6.9

    There was a lot of hope for this Temple Owls team in 2023. However, the season moved like they were stuck in mud. E.J. Warner flashed brilliance at times and showcased his ridiculous arm talent and mix of extensive film work even more. He threw for over 3,000 yards for the second season in a row this fall.

    However, injuries and inconsistent defensive issues saw the Owls land with a 3-9 record in 2023 in what could only be described as a disappointing season. Warner, in his last outing of the year, showcased what could’ve been against Memphis.

    He threw his receivers open and found them quickly in the progressive read game early against the Tigers. However, an errant decision and, ultimately, a lack of firepower over the middle of the field ended their chances against Memphis like it did their season altogether.

    Warner is a talented quarterback with a lot to like about his game. He just needs the right pieces around him, including time in the pocket to diagnose coverages. Will he ever get that at Temple?

    10) Daniel Richardson | FAU

    Last Week’s Ranking: 9th (-1)
    Yards: 2,001 | TDs: 13 | INT: 10 | Comp. %: 65.4% | YPA: 6.3

    Daniel Richardson gave FAU his all. In fact, he gave Central Michigan his all back when he was with the Chippewas as well. Ultimately, Ricardson has become a 7,000-yard career passer and has thrown for over 50 touchdowns in the process.

    Unfortunately, Richardson has never truly wowed as a quarterback for either program. Forced into full-time duty against Clemson back in Week 3, Richardson did his best to keep the FAU offense on schedule, in rhythm, and on time. However, some crucial mistakes and down-to-down inaccuracy detracted from what could’ve been a sound year in Tom Herman’s first season.

    Tyriq Starks entered the fray against Rice in Week 13 and wasn’t asked to do much. The QB situation in Boca Raton left a lot to be desired in 2023.

    11) Cardell Williams, Kirk Francis | Tulsa

    Last Week’s Ranking: 12th (+1)
    Yards: 967 | TDs: 6 | INT: 3 | Comp. %: 56.2% | YPA: 8.0

    Well, we’ll give it to you like this: Kirk Francis wasn’t scared of anything for Tulsa in 2023. The true freshman walk-on quarterback didn’t shy away from hits, tight windows, or turnovers as he stepped into the lineup.

    And you know what? It worked for the Tulsa offense when he was on the field. Francis played the majority of snaps against Charlotte and Tulane before getting the final two starts of the season for the Golden Hurricane. Sure, they dropped the game against Charlotte and Tulane, but they were two points away from upsetting the Green Wave, a touchdown away from knocking off North Texas, and finally got off the proverbial schnid against ECU in the final game of the season.

    Francis gave this team a chance to win, as much as Cardell Williams gave them something to be excited about when he was inserted into the lineup for Braylon Braxton. He elevated the talent around him and hit the intermediate to deep portion of the field better than any of the quarterbacks.

    Unfortunately, there were far too many mistakes that you can point to, like multiple turnover-worthy throws in overtime against Charlotte, that reminded you of the fact that he was a true freshman playing his first collegiate snaps this season.

    That being said, there is something to work with in this quarterback room going forward. Not every bottom-dwelling QB situation can say the same.

    11) Tai Lavatai, Xavier Arline | Navy

    Last Week’s Ranking: 11th (-1)
    Total Yards: 571 | Total TDs: 4 | INT: 1 | Comp. %: 54.8% | YPA: 7.6

    The Navy Midshipmen needed to hit the reset button midway through the first quarter against SMU. Unfortunately, real life wasn’t a video game for Navy and the entire team basically laid an egg against the Mustangs.

    Forced to throw even more than usual, Braxton Woodson played the lion’s share of the reps for starter Xavier Arline and threw for just 71 yards and below 50% completions. That, however, was better than Arline’s showing as he attempted six passes and didn’t complete a single one.

    This Navy team is not built to come back from any deficit, as shown in Week 13. Getting healthy and pushing the ball on the ground will be key to reaching their sixth win and winning the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy against Army in Week 15.

    Tier 5: Work-To-Be-Done AAC QBs

    13) Alex Flinn | ECU

    Last Week’s Ranking: 13th (no change)
    Yards: 1,558 | TDs: 6 | INT: 12 | Comp. %: 54.8% | YPA: 5.4

    Alex Flinn gave the team the best chance to win games in a befuddling season for the East Carolina Pirates. They didn’t do that often, but Flinn’s willingness to test the deep waters at least made them entertaining.

    In the final game of the season, ECU made it a game against Tulsa, but two costly interceptions and a lack of consistency in generating first downs was the downfall. Flinn, however, played well enough to win the game in the end; it just wasn’t meant to be.

    Flinn has decent arm talent, and certainly, the play-calling at times for ECU was as questionable as his decisions were. It will be remembered as a season of close calls despite a morbid 6-to-12 TD-to-INT ratio.

    14) Jalon Jones, Trexler Ivey | Charlotte

    Last Week’s Ranking: 14th (no change)
    Yards: 1,263 | TDs: 4 | INT: 10 | Comp. %: 55.2% | YPA: 6.2

    The future may be bright for the Charlotte program under Biff Poggi. But it also may not be if they can’t get the right guy in at quarterback quickly.

    Trexler Ivey and Jalon Jones each had their share of successes in 2023, but those were marred by ill-fated decisions and limited talent across the board from the quarterback position. In the end, the 49ers dropped nine total games and won just two AAC contests in the process.

    Ivey led the team in passing with 1,263 yards but was one of just five AAC quarterbacks to throw double-digit interceptions and owns the worst total negative TD-to-INT ratio. The game seemed to move too fast for him sometimes, and the decisions couldn’t catch up with the arm talent we know he has.

    Charlotte is still very much a rebuilding process, and that includes likely starting over at the QB position in 2024.


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