Ever since Johnny Manziel won his Heisman we have been reminded that totally off-the-radar quarterbacks can do amazing things if they land in a perfect situation. Beyond the freakishness of that story, though, every year we see players who don't get much attention nationally heading into a season put together some very nice numbers - and win some games for their teams and cover some spreads, too. Here are six guys this year who have a chance to far outperform the amount of buzz they are currently receiving on the national stage:
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Zach Terrell, Western Michigan: This is the third year that P.J. Fleck has been in charge at Western Michigan and the third year that Terrell, now a junior, has been the man driving the offense. The first year didn't go well for player or team. Last year, though, Terrell was quietly excellent for a much-improved squad. He finished sixth in the country in passer rating and third in yards for attempt. Now he brings further experience and maturity to a better all-around team. Opening against Michigan State is tough, but beyond that Terrell has the potential to really put together a special season. The good news for Broncos fans is that Terrell is far from the prototypical quarterback physically, so there is virtually no chance that he would be tempted by the pros no matter how well he performs this year.
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State: There are some good quarterbacks in the Big 12 right now - Heisman favorite Trevone Boykin chief among them - so it's not surprising that Rudolph likely isn't getting the respect he deserves. He was intended to be a redshirt as a freshman last year but was forced into action for three games late in the season. He was impressive enough to have Cowboys fans salivating, but he hasn't gained the traction he should outside that region. He is an obvious leader and a fearless player, and he plays in a system tailor-made for offensive production. He's bigger and stronger than last year - and he wasn't exactly a mouse last year - so he has a chance to put together quite the season.
Paxton Lynch, Memphis: The first thing that stands out when you watch Lynch is his side - the 6-foot-7 pivot looks like he took a wrong turn looking for the basketball court. He can move, though, and he sure can throw. He's entering his third year of play after a redshirt. The first year was pretty rocky, but last year his excellent play was a big reason that the Tigers improved to 10-3. Justin Fuente is a heck of a coach, and he and Lynch could be a dynamic partnership this year.
Sefo Liufau, Colorado: It has been a long time since Colorado was good at football. Heck, it has been decades since they were even relevant. That isn't likely to change in the very tough Pac-12, which means that the seriously underappreciated Liufau will continue to play in obscurity. He was a starter for the first time last year, and he threw for 3,200 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing more than 65 percent of his passes. Nothing wrong with that. He's only a junior this year, too, and despite his success last year it was clear that he still had plenty of room to grow and improve. In a league stacked with QB talent this year, by the middle of the season it could be very clear that Liufau can stand right beside any of them.
Joe Licata, Buffalo: Licata is a senior with all sorts of experience - he is all but a lock to be the all-time passing leader at Buffalo by the time he is done. Unfortunately, much of that time has been while stuck in an inept coaching system. He has done just fine despite the general blah-ness of the organization - he has 24 touchdown passes each of the two years. The Bulls made a very bold hire this offseason, bringing in Lance Leipold, the guy who has dominated Division III and who averaged more than 40 points per game last year. A bold new coach with a veteran, more-than-solid QB - that could be a recipe for some sparks.
Matt Davis, SMU: Davis committed to Texas A&M for the 2012 season, but not before building a strong relationship with offensive coordinator Chad Morris at Clemson. His time at A&M was short - he unexpectedly found himself behind some phenom named Johnny - and the next year he was at community college. Then it was off to SMU, arriving just in time for the debacle of June Jones' departure last year. It would be easy for a guy like Davis to lose faith after all the bumps in his road, and he might have if it weren't for the fact that Morris was hired to take over the team this year. Davis is just the kind of quarterback that Morris likes, and we know that Morris knows a thing or two about running an offense. It's no sure thing, but the ingredients are there for Davis and Morris to put together a surprisingly strong season in Dallas.
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