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The Relative Improbability of Stephen Morris, Starting Quarterback

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I'm a fan of Stephen Morris. I think most of us are, and I think most of us were pretty impressed with how he ran the offense and threw the ball on Saturday vs. Boston College. One thing I couldn't help but think about at times on Saturday as I watched this big kid scramble for first downs, throw darts into coverage on third-and-long and run a no-huddle offense with precision was how low-ranked he was coming out of high school.

Morris -- for those who don't remember -- was rated by Rivals as the No. 26 dual-threat quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class. Rivals breaks up dual-threat and traditional quarterbacks, and if you combined them I think Morris would have fallen outside of the top 50, if not further. Aside from Miami, Morris had offers from UCF, Purdue and Virginia, so he wasn't totally invisible, but that's not a hugely impressive offer list for someone who ended up at Miami.

So what I'm going to do is list the 25 dual-threat quarterbacks Rivals had rated ahead of Morris, with some information about where their careers are now. Of the 25, you guys may recognize about a handful. Maybe. My aim here isn't to criticize Rivals -- they're far often more right than wrong. I'm also not gloating about Morris' small successes or claiming that he's going to be a star quarterback -- I think he has even better days ahead, but this list illustrates just how unlikely it is that he's even gotten to this point. That is, essentially, all I'm doing here -- presenting info and stepping back.

[one quick note: the first seven players were rated as four-star players. All other players were three-star recruits.]

1. Devin Gardner, Michigan

Gardner was recruited to be the successor to Denard Robinson under Rich Rodriguez, but has been moved to wide receiver full-time under Brady Hoke. He had a 44-yard touchdown catch vs. Alabama on Saturday.

2. Rob Bolden, Penn State

Bolden appeared in 20 games in two years for Penn State, throwing seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He was, as those numbers would indicate, embattled, but saw action because Matt McGloin has his own, uh, limitations. Bolden transferred to LSU after the Paterno scandal, where he is now behind starter Zach Mettenberger.

3. Barry Brunetti, West Virginia

Brunetti threw nine passes as a Mountaineer before transferring to Ole Miss. Last year for the Rebels he completed 19 of 35 passes for 144 yards. This year he was beat out for the starting gig by junior transfer Bo Wallace, but did throw his first career touchdown pass in garbage time vs. Central Arkansas on Saturday.

4. James Franklin, Missouri

Franklin is the true star on this list. He will be beginning his second year as the Tigers' starting quarterback and with a good year could play himself into a high first-round draft pick. Last year he threw for 2,872 yards and 21 touchdowns, while adding 981 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.

5. Terrance Broadway, Houston

Broadway didn't last long in Houston, transferring after his freshman season. He is now at Louisiana-Laffayette where he is the backup to starter Blane Gautier. In the Cajuns' opening game of 2012 vs. Lamar, Broadway completed six of nine passes for 69 yards.

6. Johnny Deaton, Oklahoma State

Deaton threw two passes in Oklahoma State's 2010 opener, completing one for six yards. In July of 2011, he decided to transfer to the FBS Northeastern State Riverhawks. He started their 2012 opener, throwing a touchdown and three picks in a loss to Pittsburgh State.

7. Brion Carnes, Nebraska

Carnes is the fourth quarterback listed on the Huskers' depth chart. He will theoretically have a chance to compete for the starting job whenever Taylor Martinez departs Lincoln, but it seems unlikely that he would win it. He threw two passes in 2011, completing both for a total of 26 yards.

8. Jeffrey Godfrey, UCF

Godfrey is probably familiar to most Canes fans. Godfrey, from Miami Central, spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons as UCF's starting quarterback, but left the program briefly this year before being allowed to return as a wide receiver. For his career, he threw 18 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. In the Knights' first game of 2012, Godfrey caught two passes for 13 yards.

9. Jeremy Johnson, West Virginia

Johnson left the Mountaineers after the 2010 season, transferring to Lamar, close to his home in Texas. In May of this year, Johnson left Lamar for Blinn College, the one-time home of Cam Newton. Johnson is a redshirt sophomore, and is expected to see more time at wide receiver than quarterback.

10. Sean Robinson, Purdue

Robinson appeared in five games as a true freshman, starting one. He threw two touchdowns and six interceptions. After appearing in only one game in 2011, Robinson was moved to linebacker this spring, where he is the backup to outside linebacker Antwon Higgs.

11. Matt Brown, TCU

Brown appeared in nine games for the Horned Frogs in 2011. In those nine games he completed three of five passes for 90 yards while also rushing 24 times for 118 yards and six touchdowns. He has been moved to wide receiver for the 2012 season.

12. Munchie Legaux, Cincinatti

Munchie! Legaux is the Bearcats' starting quarterback this season after playing extensively as reserve in 2011. Last year, Legaux appeared in 11 games, completing 47% of his passes for five touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Cincinnati will open the season this Thursday night vs. Pittsburgh.

13. Anthony Gonzalez, Pittsburgh

Gonzalez played H-back last season for Todd Graham, rushing 41 times for 185 yards and a touchdown. New Pitt coach Paul Chryst tried Gonzalez back out at quarterback this spring, but he was moved into the secondary over the summer. He was suspended for Pitt's opening game after being arrested for marijuana possession in the offseason.

14. Brian Blechen, Utah

Blechen was moved to safety upon arriving at Utah. He has appeared in 26 games in his two-year career, tallying 81 tackles, seven interceptions and 3.5 sacks. He's been suspended for the Utes' first three games of 2012 for violating team rules.

15. Tom Parish, Minnesota

Parish decided to transfer this January, and I can find no trace of where he eventually ended up. He never threw a pass as a member of the Gophers.

16. Tyler Smith, Maryland

Smith transferred to FBS school Elon prior to the 2011 season. He was not one of the two quarterbacks to appear in Elon's 62-0 loss to North Carolina on Saturday. Smith left Maryland after seeing very limited action in Randy Edsall's first spring game, but he very well may have found himself as the team's starting quarterback this year had he stayed.

17. Dallas Lloyd, Stanford

Lloyd, a Mormon, spent the last two years on a mission in Chile. He arrived at Stanford this year as a freshman, and after denying rumors of a transfer, is likely to take a redshirt in 2012.

18. Trey Burton, Florida

Burton spent 2010 as a part of Urban Meyer's Swiss army knife QB rotation, throwing six passes, rushing 75 times and catching 32 balls. In 2011, Will Muschamp shifted Burton away from QB, and the sophomore caught 19 passes and rushed 37 times. In Florida's opening game of 2012, Burton caught two passes for 12 yards. For his career, he has scored 16 touchdowns.

19. Connor Shaw, South Carolina

Shaw is the starting quarterback for a Gamecocks team that is expected to contend for the SEC East title. In 2011, he passed for 1,448 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 525 yards and eight more touchdowns. He was lackluster (and injured) in South Carolina's opening week win over Vanderbilt.

20. Tarean Austin, New Mexico

Austin appeared in 14 games at quarterback over his first two seasons as a Lobo, throwing five touchdowns and five interceptions. Austin, though, left the program after the hiring of new head coach Bob Davie. He ended up at Fort Hays State in Kansas, where he accounted for two touchdowns as the backup quarterback in the Tigers' 41-18 loss to Emporia State on Thursday.

21. Ricardo Young, Virginia Tech

Where in the world is Ricardo Young? Good question! After redshirting at Virginia Tech in 2010, Young -- unsatisified with his playing time -- transferred to be a member of Mike Locksley's stable of mid-Atlantic cast-offs at New Mexico. Young sat out the 2011 season for the Lobos, and after Locksley was fired, he transfered to Iowa Western Community College this spring. Locksley, though, quickly popped up as the offensive coordinator at Maryland, where Young soon followed. Young will sit out the 2012 season, but will be eligible to play for the Terrapins in 2013.

22. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State

Grayson's the man for the Rams this year, and he threw for 173 yards and two touchdown in their 22-17 win over the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday.

23. Sam Carter, TCU

Carter was moved to safety upon arrival in Fort Worth. He appeared in 11 games in 2011, making eight tackles and breaking up a pass. He's listed as one of the TCU's starting safeties in its 4-2-5 scheme heading into their opener this coming Saturday vs. Grambling.

24. Case McCoy, Texas

McCoy appeared in 11 games as one-half of the Longhorns highly ineffective QB rotation, completing 61% of his passes and throwing seven touchdowns to four picks. He was beat out for the starting job heading into this season by sophomore David Ash, and did not appear in the team's 37-17 victory over Wyoming on Saturday.

25. Darren Daniel, Stanford

Daniel was moved to wide receiver at Stanford and redshirted in 2010. After that season he transferred to Itawamba Community College, where he spent time at quarterback. Daniel then jumped to Alabama State (home of ex-Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell), where he's listed as a sophomore quarterback. He did not appear in the team's opening week loss to Bethune Cookman.