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High 5: College football's best quarterback duels of 2013


Most NFL clubs employ five or six area scouts, and those scouts are assigned to different regions across the country. Area scouts are responsible for every NFL prospect within their respective region. On average, these area scouts will visit between 45 to 60 schools annually. It is physically impossible for scouts to attend a live game for every school in their area. There just isn't enough time. Scouts must prioritize the players they wish to see play in live game action and check out the others during a weekday practice.

When I started scouting for the Baltimore Ravens, we were advised to attend at least one game of each quarterback prospect in our area. You can learn plenty from studying a quarterback on tape, but there's something to be said for seeing them throw live in a game setting. With that in mind, I was always on the lookout for games that featured two quarterback prospects. Those games were lifesavers for scouts trying to piece together a complicated travel schedule.

This year's college schedule features several contests involving two intriguing quarterbacks. One high-profile quarterback duel is already in the books. I was able to cross Tajh Boyd (Clemson) and Aaron Murray (Georgia) off my list after watching them square off in Death Valley this past Saturday night. I tried to identify five more quarterback duels, featuring 10 new players, to put on my schedule. Here are the five games that I've added to my calendar:

Sept. 14: Johnny Manziel vs. AJ McCarron

Manziel got the best of this quarterback matchup last year and it helped him secure the Heisman Trophy. His hand gestures and 15-yard penalty stole the headlines last week, but it's worth noting that he showed improved footwork compared to last season. McCarron had a subpar performance against Virginia Tech, but that will all be forgotten if he plays well in College Station.

Oct. 26: Brett Hundley vs. Marcus Mariota

Hundley and Mariota are two of the most exciting players in all of college football. They both have excellent size and playmaking ability. Here are their combined numbers from the opening week of the season: 508 passing yards, 176 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns.

Nov. 9: Stephen Morris vs. Logan Thomas

Morris has average size, but he has outstanding arm strength and he throws a beautiful ball. He has the benefit of an outstanding running game, but there will be games that require him to take a larger role in the offense. Thomas has a rare skillset. His combination of size, arm strength and athleticism is unlike any other quarterback in the country. However, he is still very much a work in progress. He had a rough outing against Alabama in the opener, although his receiving corps didn't do him any favors. This will be a big stage for both of these teams and their quarterbacks.

Nov. 29: Derek Carr vs. David Fales

The West Coast is very deep at the quarterback position. Carr (Fresno State) and Fales (San Jose State) don't generate the same national media attention as Hundley and Mariota, but they've made their schools a priority visit for NFL decision makers this fall. Carr put up silly numbers against Rutgers last weekend, completing 52 of 73 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns. Fales wasn't nearly as splashy in the Spartans' season-opening win over Sacramento State, but he will have a big opportunity to create some buzz this week. San Jose State will travel across town to square off against one of the best defenses in college football, Stanford.

Nov. 30: Braxton Miller vs. Devin Gardner

I'm really looking forward to this one. Miller and Gardner are both very raw, but they each possess a tremendously high ceiling. Miller is an electric runner and he has plenty of arm talent, but he needs to become more consistent with his accuracy and decision making. Gardner has excellent size and he's more polished as a passer than Miller. This matchup could take place twice, in back-to-back weeks, if both teams win their side of the Big Ten Conference.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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