We're four weeks into the D3 Football season and a collection of young QBs have started to assert themselves atop the pack. Yet, we don't really have a definitive leader. In other words, it seems all of D3 Football's QBs post similar numbers on a weekly basis, making it difficult to discern which one deserves the title "Best in League."
That's not a bad thing, mind you. The competition this season appears to have risen considerably, with schools such as Dubuque and St. John Fisher stepping up to make a claim for the title. Or it could just be that the truly elite QBs graduated last year, leaving a flock of young, up-and-coming stars to vie for the throne. Is it any wonder that the top seven QBs in terms of total passing yards are juniors?
So let's take a look at a few of the guys who have a solid claim on the title "Best QB in D3".
5. Derek Stewart – Saint Vincent
Stewart put together back-to-back 400-plus yard games against Grove City and Alma College and totaled 12 TDs during that same span, which shot him to the top of the D3 QB charts. His other outings against Geneva (144 yards, zero touchdowns) and Thiel (225 yards, one touchdown) weren't as memorable, but they got the job done.
The Bearcats are 4-0 with important matchups against Thomas More and Washington & Jefferson looming.
4. Shane Sweeney – Hobart
Sweeney put up really good numbers in the first two weeks of the season — 225 yards and two TDs versus Ithaca, and 246 yards and three TDs against Union — before exploding onto the gridiron with a 420-yard, four-TD performance against Brockport in Week 3. He followed that up with another stellar game — 364 yards and four TDs against Endicott to finish the month as one of D3s top QBs.
More importantly, Hobart is 4-0 and in the driver's seat for the Liberty League title.
3. Chase Burton – Franklin
Burton has struggled at times with turnovers — he threw three interceptions in Week 1 against Thomas More — but he more than makes up for the occasional lapses in judgment with some mind-blowing performances. Against Thomas More, for example, he tallied 514 passing yards and five TDs, but that wasn't even the impressive part. The impressive part was his final drive. He and the Franklin offense got the ball on the 1-yard-line, down 39-36, with 2:25 to play. Burton drove his team 99 yards in just under two minutes, going 9-for-11 including the game-winning seven-yard TD pass to Tanner Wroblewski. The Grizzlies won 43-39.
Last weekend, he went off for 327 yards and four TDs, capping off a stellar first month that saw him tally 1,341 passing yards and a D3-best 15 touchdowns. He has three games with four scores or more, has led Franklin to a 3-1 start, and is a big reason they were nominated for D3 football Team of the Month.
2. Devin Hayes – Centre
Hayes gets the slight nod over Chase Burton thanks to his team's 4-0 record. It could be argued that Hayes outperformed Feckley over the last few weeks thanks to strong showings at Washington (343 yards, 1 TD) and Chicago (421 yards, 3 TDs), but it's all about Ws, and Hayes gets Ws.
One factor that is a little worrisome: Hayes has six interceptions on the year. So far it hasn't affected the Colonels offense, which continues to blast opponents to oblivion, and outscoring them 179-82.
The junior QB totaled 1,331 yards and 11 scores through the first four weeks while completing over 100 passes.
It should be noted that Hayes burned Chicago on the ground to the tune of 46 yards and a pair of rushing TDs.
1. Conor Feckley – Dubuque
Feckley stormed out of the gates with a magnificent 634-yard, eight-touchdown performance in Week 1 against Bethel. He has come back to earth a bit over the past few games, culminating in a 166-yard, zero-touchdown showing against Luther — a game in which he attempted 30 passes, a far cry from the 47 he dished out in Week 1.
Not that he's complaining. The junior QB has just two interceptions on the season on 152 pass attempts, and his Dubuque squad is 4-0. Feckley ranks second in the division in passing yards (1,349) and first in passing touchdowns (15).
It'll be interesting to see which way Feckley's play goes in the coming weeks. But make no mistake: he was the best quarterback in D3 Football in September. He's a huge reason Dubuque is also nominated for the D3 football Team of the Month award.