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Jacoby Brissett, Jacob Coker among transfer QBs to watch

Gerry Broome / Associated Press
Jacoby Brissett is expected to give North Carolina State's offense a much-needed boost.

It has been said more than once -- more than a million times, actually -- that quarterback is the most important position on the field.

If that truly is the case, there could be as many as 15 coaches this fall gambling a bit with their choice of starter at the most important position.


14 for '14 series:
CFB 24/7 counts down the 14 college football players or coaches to watch in varying categories in 2014.

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That's because there could be as many as 15 transfers starting at quarterback in the FBS ranks this season (that means guys who have transferred from other four-year schools and haven't been eligible at their current school before, not guys who are junior college transfers or who played last season at their current school after transferring).

Here's a look at the 15, including a quarterback who could start at a school expected to contend for a national title. Eleven of these guys have immediate eligibility at their new schools; the other four transferred and sat out last season.

WILL START


Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State
Transferred from: Florida.
Buzz: Brissett (6-foot-4, 231 pounds), a fourth-year junior, sat out last season and watched as N.C. State's offense struggled all season. He is expected to provide a big upgrade. He has a nice arm, and while he is not a runner, he does possess some mobility. Coaches love his leadership abilities: Though he sat out last season, he still was picked by teammates to be on the team's leadership council.

Blake Frohnapfel, Massachusetts
Transferred from: Marshall
Buzz: Frohnapfel (6-6, 225), a fourth-year junior, was stuck behind the prolific Rakeem Cato at Marshall, so he moved on. He left a program that could go unbeaten for one that might be the worst in the FBS ranks. He beat out holdover A.J. Doyle for the starting job. New UMass coach Mark Whipple wants to throw it around, and Frohnapfel has a good arm.

Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Transferred from: Notre Dame
Buzz: Kiel (6-4, 208), a third-year sophomore, was considered a national top-30 prospect and the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class. He left Notre Dame after his true freshman season and sat out last fall. He is a strong-armed guy who supposedly can make all the throws -- and with accuracy. He also has good mobility, though he is at his best as a pocket passer.

Wes Lunt, Illinois
Transferred from: Oklahoma State
Buzz: Lunt (6-5, 225), a third-year sophomore, won the starting job as a true freshman at Oklahoma State in 2012, then got injured. He eventually decided to move on, and looks to be a great fit for coordinator Bill Cubit's pass-friendly attack. It's not a stretch to see Lunt -- an Illinois native -- leading the Big Ten in passing yardage.

Tyler Murphy, Boston College
Transferred from: Florida
Buzz: Murphy (6-2, 213), a fifth-year senior, was the No. 2 quarterback at Florida last season and was pressed into starting duty after Jeff Driskel was lost for the season in the third game. Murphy later was hurt, too. When he did play, he looked to be just a stop-gap quarterback. He has some mobility and generally avoided mistakes, but his arm is nothing special. At B.C., though, his main task will be to avoid mistakes and hand off.

Cody Sokol, Louisiana Tech
Transferred from: Iowa
Buzz: Sokol (6-2, 215), a fifth-year senior, arrived at Iowa last season via a junior college and was part of a three-man battle royale for the Hawkeyes' starting job. He lost out to Jake Rudock and ended up as the third-stringer. Thus, his move south. Louisiana Tech's quarterback play last season was, to be kind, inconsistent, and Sokol beat out holdover Ryan Higgins for the starting nod.

Pete Thomas, Louisiana-Monroe
Transferred from: North Carolina State
Buzz: Thomas (6-5, 235), a fifth-year senior, is a former four-star recruit who is on his third school. He started for his first two seasons at Colorado State and had some success. He transferred to North Carolina State and sat out a season. He started last season at N.C. State, but was a poor fit for the offense -- he transferred there when Tom O'Brien was coach, and O'Brien liked dropback passers much more than successor Dave Doeren -- and moved on again. ULM is looking to replace four-year starter Kolton Browning. Thomas has pro potential if he can play consistently this fall. He has excellent size and a big arm. One of his cousins is Stephen Neal, a former guard for the New England Patriots.

LIKELY TO START


Jacob Coker, Alabama
Transferred from: Florida State
Buzz: Alabama is considered a legitimate national title contender, which means this guy will be squarely in the spotlight all fall. Coker (6-5, 230), a fourth-year junior, has been heavily hyped and faces a ton of pressure. He has a strong arm and good mobility, but he hasn't taken an important snap since he was a high school senior in 2010. Senior Blake Sims is giving him a battle for the starting job during fall camp, which has to be causing some angst among Tide backers because Sims was thought to be a merely adequate potential backup.

Brandon Connette, Fresno State
Transferred from: Duke
Buzz: Connette (6-2, 213), a fifth-year senior, played a big role as the second quarterback at Duke last season, but moved on to be closer to his sick mom (he is from the Los Angeles area). He is nowhere near the passer that predecessor Derek Carr is, but Connette's mobility and toughness would give Bulldogs coaches a different element in the backfield. Connette is battling Brian Burrell, last season's backup, for the starting job.

NFL Exposure

Top college QBs to watch in 2014

Take a look ahead to the 2014 college football season with the best quarterbacks to follow this fall.

Jake Heaps, Miami (Fla.)
Transferred from: Kansas
Buzz: The suspension of redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen means Heaps (6-1, 210), a fifth-year senior, almost certainly will start the opener at Louisville. True freshman Brad Kaaya is the only other realistic option. Heaps is a former mega-recruit who is on his third school; he started for two years at BYU, then moved on to Kansas. He started for the Jayhawks last season, but eventually was benched at both places. While he has a strong arm, he has lacked consistency and accuracy.

Andrew Hendrix, Miami (Ohio)
Transferred from: Notre Dame
Buzz: The RedHawks were embarrassing on offense last season, and Hendrix (6-2, 221), a fifth-year senior, should be able to provide a spark. He is a good athlete with some mobility. Austin Gearing started the final four games last season; he is a good runner but showed nothing as a passer.

Matt Joeckel, TCU
Transferred from: Texas A&M
Buzz: The twin brother of the Jacksonville Jaguars' Luke Joeckel started the Aggies' opener last season against Rice when Johnny Manziel was suspended for the first half, but he knew he had no real shot to take over the starting role this season, so he transferred to TCU. Joeckel (6-4, 220), a fifth-year senior, won't wow anyone with his athleticism, but he would provide a steady hand, something TCU hasn't had in a while at quarterback. He has an OK arm and some mobility. Athletic junior Trevone Boykin, who started seven games at quarterback for TCU last season, is back, but he probably is best-suited for wide receiver.

COULD START


Rob Bolden, Eastern Michigan
Transferred from: LSU
Buzz: Bolden (6-4, 209), a fifth-year senior, is on his third school. He began at Penn State, then moved on to LSU, where he was moved to receiver. He has moved again, closer to home this time (he is from the Detroit area), and also is back at quarterback. Bolden is a good athlete who never has shown the ability to be a college quarterback. Holdover Brogan Roback was thrown into the fray as a true freshman last season, but predictably struggled on a bad team.

Michael Brewer, Virginia Tech
Transferred from: Texas Tech
Buzz: Brewer (6-0, 202), a fourth-year junior, was coached in high school in Austin, Texas, by current Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. Brewer played as a reserve at Texas Tech in each of the past two seasons, throwing a total of 58 passes and five touchdowns. He doesn't have the strongest arm but he has some mobility. Brewer, who arrived at Virginia Tech over the summer, is vying with little-used senior Mark Leal for the starting job.

Phillip Ely, Toledo
Transferred from: Alabama
Buzz: Ely -- who sat out last season -- wasn't an SEC-caliber quarterback, and will be in a three-way battle to start for the Rockets. Logan Woodside and Michael Julian are the other candidates. Julian is a good runner but an iffy passer. Woodside is limited -- but so is Ely (6-1, 198), a fourth-year junior. Ely is from Tampa's Plant High and followed Aaron Murray as Plant's starter.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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