While the league is loaded with offseason quarterback battles, there are also some star passers in Conference USA right now.
Here’s a ranking of the best C-USA quarterbacks.
Best Conference USA Quarterbacks, Ranked
|1||Austin Reed||Western Kentucky|
|2||Diego Pavia||New Mexico State|
|3||Hank Bachmeier||Louisiana Tech|
1. Austin Reed, Western Kentucky
Obviously the quarterback who led the country in passing yards last season should be at the top of this list.
In 2022, Reed threw for 4,744 yards, which was first in the FBS. And his best single-game production of 497 yards was in Western Kentucky’s bowl game, the New Orleans Bowl, as he was named the contest’s MVP.
Reed, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound upcoming redshirt senior, completed 65% of his throws as he recorded 40 touchdowns and 11 interceptions through the air. He also added 224 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground en route to becoming Conference USA’s Newcomer of the Year and taking all-conference second-team accolades.
Reed is one of the best returning quarterbacks in the Group of Five.
2. Diego Pavia, New Mexico State
Though he’ll be new to the conference, Pavia is a seasoned signal caller who will look to build on an impressive 2022 season.
After transferring from New Mexico Military Institute, which he helped win an NJCAA national title, Pavia saw some success at New Mexico State. He threw for 1,283 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions while completing 52% of his throws. As a runner, he totaled 443 yards and six touchdowns.
Pavia earned All-Independent first-team honors in the FLEX spot. He also led the team to a 7-6 record as the Aggies beat Bowling Green in the Quick Lane Bowl to end the year, with Pavia being named MVP of that game.
Pavia, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, might be earning All-Conference USA awards by the end of the season.
3. Hank Bachmeier, Louisiana Tech
Bachmeier didn’t end his time at Boise State the way some hoped, but he has another opportunity to prove who good he could be in 2023.
Bachmeier played in 29 games for the Broncos going back to 2019. He completed 62% of his passes for 6,605 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions. He also scored three touchdowns on the ground.
However, he only played four games in 2022 and then transferred. But Bachmeier, a 6-1, 210-pound senior, still has the talent to stand out in C-USA.
4. Grayson James, FIU
James began shining pretty early in his career, and C-USA teams will have to count on him being even better in 2023.
James, a 6-3, 235-pound upcoming junior, played in six games as a freshman in 2021 before making 10 starts in 2022. He made the All-Conference USA honorable mention list as a sophomore last year.
James threw for 1,962 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while completing 59% of his throws. He was also top 25 in the league with 223 rushing yards to go with three touchdowns on the ground.
James should keep his place as one of the best C-USA quarterbacks in 2023.
5. Johnathan Bennett, Liberty
Liberty is one of those programs in this conference with multiple quarterbacks vying for the starting role right now.
Bennett was Liberty’s leading passer last year. In 12 games played and seven starts, he totaled 1,534 yards, 12 touchdowns, and nine picks while completing 59% of his throws. He also ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Kaidon Salter was another starter for Liberty and the team’s quarterback during the Boca Raton Bowl. In eight games, he threw for 1,088 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions with a 59% completion rate.
Other quarterbacks, like Southern Miss transfer Trey Lowe, are also in the mix. But it seems the Flames will have a skilled starter no matter who they go with.