AAC QB Rankings 2023: Tulane, UTSA Patiently Await the Return of Michael Pratt, Frank Harris

The American Athletic Conference has suffered a few setbacks in 2023, noticeably in our AAC QB Rankings where both top quarterbacks missed Week 3.

It’s been a bit of a disappointing start to the season for the American Athletic Conference and their quarterback play is no different. With injuries to the top two signal-callers, we’ve lost everyone from the Elite Tier in the AAC QB Rankings.

Our weekly iteration of our 2023 AAC QB Rankings is here, taking a look at where they stack up through the first three weeks of the season.

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 will be mentioned, 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: ACC | B1G | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC | AAC | C-USA | MAC | MWC | Sun Belt | FBS Ind. 

Tier 1: The Elite AAC QBs

Until Michael Pratt and Frank Harris, or someone else for that matter, returns to the lineup and puts forth an elite performance, we’ll remain empty in the Elite Tier of our AAC QB Rankings for 2023.

Tier 2: Well-Above-Average AAC QBs

1) Michael Pratt, Kai Horton | Tulane

Last Week’s Ranking: 1st (no change)

We all know how gifted Michael Pratt is for the Tulane Green Wave. And we know that had he played against Ole Miss, things might have gone differently. Pratt and Tulane have lost their spot in the Elite Tier until his return, but Kai Horton has served as a more-than-average replacement.

Horton fared well enough to give Tulane a chance against Ole Miss in Week 2 and played a solid performance against Southern Miss in Week 3. He threw for nearly 200 yards at nearly 10 yards per attempt, taking great care of the ball and not forcing throws against a talented Southern Miss secondary hellbent on repeating last year’s upset.

Though Horton appears limited in the sense that Pratt gives the Green Wave a chance to win any contest, Horton has improved with each rep.

2) Frank Harris, Eddie Lee Marburger | UTSA

Last Week’s Ranking: 2nd (no change)

With Frank Harris out, Eddie Lee Marburger got the start against Army on Friday night of Week 3. Though the result was ultimately not what they wanted, Marburger still played a solid football game.

The Army offense controlled the ball for most of the game, notably most of the first quarter, and the UTSA hardly got through their scripted offense before halftime. Marburger threw or three scores and started to grow with his confidence as the game went along.

Ultimately, it was too little too late, but one wonders if Harris had even been in the lineup had it gone the other way. Not with how Army played.

3) Seth Henigan | Memphis

Last Week’s Ranking: 3rd (no change)

On Thursday night of Week 3, Seth Henigan had a chance to shine and improve his stock in these AAC QB Rankings. The win was nice, but Henigan failed to take advantage of a porous Navy secondary in front of a national audience.

Henigan had a sound drive to open the game and his talent was evident. Forced off his spot and to make some throws happen outside of the structure of the offense as the game went along, Henigan failed to put away the Midshipmen.

He was bailed out by a few miraculous catches at the catch point but still displayed the accuracy and arm talent that makes him a special QB.

Tier 3: Above-Average AAC QBs

4) Preston Stone | SMU

Last Week’s Ranking: 5th (+1)

SMU finally got rolling on offense thanks to a visit from Prairie View A&M. Preston Stone tossed five touchdowns but hardly had to do anything in this game. He averaged nearly 15 yards per pass, and it could’ve been a much bigger finish had his receivers not cost him with a couple of drops.

Still, Stone has rallied from a few slow performances to start the season and may be rounding into the form that has so many excited around the SMU program as AAC play hits.

5) E.J. Warner | Temple

Last Week’s Ranking: 6th (+1)

A reprieve before their game against Miami, Temple and E.J. Warner were gifted Norfolk State at home ahead of their trip to South Florida. Warner dissected the Spartans’ defense and hardly needed to do much in the long run.

He used this outing to test his deep ball as he spotted receivers downfield at ease and dropped in a few accurate passes to his receivers deep against Norfolk State. Ultimately, it could’ve been a better game from a statistical point of view had it not been for the Temple ground game averaging over seven yards per carry.

6) JT Daniels | Rice

Last Week’s Ranking: 9th (+3)

We signed off last week’s writeup of JT Daniels with: “Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the Rice offense.” After his second straight dominant outing, it’s apparent that the good things are here for Rice.

Daniels tore apart the Texas Southern defense for 255 yards on just 11 completions. He threw for four touchdowns and dotted accurate passes to every level. Standard dropbacks were key to his success as he dished from the pocket and found his receivers all across his progressions.

This is the type of performance you’d expect from a former five-star recruit and one-time USC/Georgia/WVU quarterback.

7) Jacob Zeno | UAB

Last Week’s Ranking: 4th (-3)

What started off as a potentially dominant offense for UAB has crashed and burned in recent weeks. Jacob Zeno played admirably against Louisiana, but it was a few errant decisions that ultimately made the difference in a lopsided affair.

Zeno has great talent with his throws but failed to harness much consistency regarding downfield accuracy. He hit a few deep passes but if he had to push it past the sticks consistently, the Blazers found themselves on the wrong end of an incompletion.

Cleaning up some mechanical issues and picking his shots better is key to this team’s growth going forward.

Tier 4: Average AAC QBs

8) Chandler Rogers | North Texas

Last Week’s Ranking: 11th (+3)

Despite 77 combined points, it was an ugly game for the most part between North Texas and Louisiana Tech. Chandler Rogers was a bright spot, and as such, he moved up a few spots in our AAC QB Rankings.

Rogers gives the Mean Green a chance to win with his dynamic ability. He’s not nearly as accurate as we’ve seen from him in the past, but that’s likely because he’s attempting to move it downfield more. He threw for over 300 yards and two scores while adding an ability to extend plays from inside the pocket with his athleticism.

9) Jalon Jones, Trexler Ivey | Charlotte

Last Week’s Ranking: 10th (+1)

Jalon Jones’ legs were key to Charlotte’s attempt at a comeback against Georgia State in Week 3, just as much as Trexler Ivey’s arm was. Together, they fought hard but consistently finding themselves behind on the scoreboard will force some errant decisions.

Ivey looked terrific, however, through the air, while Jones was nearly impossible to stop on the ground. If this is the wave of the future for the Charlotte football team, then they’ll be tough to figure out on offense.

10) Casey Thompson, Daniel Richardson | FAU

Last Week’s Ranking: 8th (-2)

It’s a terrible way to possibly end your college career for Casey Thompson, and we feel for him dearly. The sixth-year quarterback tore his ACL and MCL against Clemson and will miss the rest of the season. With his status for a potential return in jeopardy, the show had to move on against the Tigers in Week 3.

Daniel Richardson, who transferred in from Central Michigan two years ago, was inserted into the lineup under dire circumstances. We know Richardson’s talent from a pocket-passing standpoint and we’ll not hold this Clemson performance against him too much until we see what the offense looks like with him leading the charge.

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

11) Cardell Williams, Roman Fuller (Braylon Braxton) | Tulsa

Last Week’s Ranking: 7th (-4)

We had high hopes for Tulsa’s quarterback room coming into the season and especially after Cardell Williams took over for Braylon Braxton. With two Power Five games under their belt, however, it’s clear that they needed the benefit of some reps before going up against Washington and Oklahoma.

Against the Sooners in Week 3, Williams had some ball security issues yet again and Roman Fuller didn’t fare any better getting the start. AAC play can’t come soon enough for the Golden Hurricane.

12) Mason Garcia, Alex Flinn | ECU

Last Week’s Ranking: 12th (no change)

We were confounded as to why the offense for ECU couldn’t move the ball down the field with Mason Garcia at the helm, especially given Alex Flinn’s insertion into the lineup in Week 2. Flinn was given the start against App State in Week 3, and a spark certainly appeared early on.

However, it fizzled out all too quickly with three interceptions and some ill-fated decisions. Sure, his playmakers didn’t help him, but Garcia eventually returned to the lineup and this situation is getting murkier by the day.

Something’s got to give here as AAC play summons.

13) Byrum Brown | USF

Last Week’s Ranking: 13th (no change)

There was a chance for USF to upset Alabama on Saturday, as slim as that was. It was there, though; there is no denying that. Byrum Brown did all he could with his legs but in order to upset a team like Alabama, you’re going to have to fire on all cylinders in all facets.

Brown had an ugly day from the pocket and even worse once he broke contain. He was inaccurate from all angles and didn’t help matters with some poor decisions. As athletic as Brown is, you have to think if this team got a few more accurate passes from the pocket, they would’ve pulled off the upset against Bama.

14) Tai Lavatai, Navy

Last Week’s Ranking: 14th (no change)

A few big rushes from the Navy running backs kept the Midshipmen in the game, but Tai Lavatai couldn’t take advantage of a few short fields and Memphis mistakes to take advantage for a potential upset.

Blake Horvath was inserted into the lineup and, though the moment appeared too big for him, there is still hope in his talent, even if he was unable to show it. There is promise for Navy, we just haven’t seen it yet.