When Houston quarterback Andre Ware claimed the 1989 Heisman Trophy, he did so with passing yards that seemed almost unthinkable at the time. But Ware's 4,699 yards passing, while still impressive to this day, looks a bit different when considering 8 different FBS QBs threw for over 4,000 yards a season ago.
Three of these eight gunslingers were from Group of 5 squads and two return as seniors poised to challenge the 5,000-yard mark.
The biggest question is this: Can these two quarterbacks, along with five other incredible passers and runners from Group of 5 conferences, break through the way Ware did all those years ago?
If 2017 is the return of a Group of 5 QB holding the Heisman Trophy in December, it most like will be one of these talented young men.
Quinton Flowers – South Florida
Things could not be shaping up nicer for South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers.
The Miami native threw for 2,812 yards last season to go along with an astounding 1,530 yards rushing. That's only 731 yards passing and 41 yards rushing behind last year's Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson of Louisville.
With five games already slated for national TV, Flowers will get the first chance to impress the college football nation when it begins the season a week early on August 26 in a nationally television affair at San Jose State. The Spartans finished 122 nationally against the run a season ago, so expect to see Flowers shred SJSU early and often to get the Heisman hype machine revved up early.
Kyle Allen – Houston
If the name rings a bell, that's because Allen spent two years at Texas A&M where he threw for 1,322 yards in 2014 and 2,210 in 2015.
Now that Allen has sat out a year due to transfer rules, he takes over for the versatile and exhilarating Gary Ward Jr. who led the Cougars to a passing attack that ranked 17th overall in the FBS.
Riley Ferguson – Memphis
Ferguson put up gaudy numbers last season in throwing for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns. He'll have weapons all over the field led by returning stud Anthony Miller who set a school record last year with 1,434 yards receiving.
Ferguson's first three games of the season are already slated for national TV, including a massive home showdown on September 16 against UCLA on ABC.
Brent Stockstill – Middle Tennessee
The son of head coach Rick Stockstill should be fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. He'll get a chance to impress in September against Power 5 schools Vanderbilt, Syracuse, and Minnesota.
Still only a junior, Stockstill has already thrown for 7,279 yards and 61 touchdowns for the Blue Raiders. He should have a field day this season throwing to Richie James, who is the current NCAA active leader in receptions (213) and receiving yards (2,971).
Mike White – Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky has become to quarterback what USC is to running backs.
The Hilltoppers led the country in scoring with 45.5 points per game, and its 336.8 yards passing per affair was good for 5th overall.
Despite sitting out the second half of multiple blowout games last year, White still threw for 4,363 yards and 37 touchdowns. If anyone in the FBS can eclipse the 5,000-yard mark for passing, it's White.
Logan Woodside – Toledo
The Rocket's QB led the FBS last year with 45 TD strikes while also throwing for over 4,000 yards. Known for his big-play abilities, Woodside had touchdown passes of 89 and 98 yards last year.
Woodside's Heisman hopes probably will be determined in a massive non-conference road trip to Miami on September 23.
Josh Allen – Wyoming
Allen already has a leg up on the competition thanks to offseason buzz typically reserved for Power 5 QBs.
His 3,203 yards passing was impressive a season ago in leading the Cowboys to a shocking home Mountain West Conference championship game appearance.
To keep the buzz going, including potentially going in the first round of next year's NFL Draft, Allen needs to cut down on the 15 interceptions he tossed a season ago.