The College football regular season is officially over, with just Saturday’s Army-Navy game left to play. Then we’ll turn our attention to bowl season. The CFP is set with No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Michigan, No.3 Georgia and No. 4 Cincinnati.
Quarterbacks always have the most impact on the field, often carrying the whole weight in victory and defeat. These three signal callers, however, played roles in shaping the culture of the game significantly this season.
Shedeur Sanders was a four-star recruit who decided to ride with his dad and brother Shilo on a journey to make history and transform HBCU football culture. Make it more Hollywood. Football-wise, JSU is the place to be.
Desmond Ridder is accomplishing the impossible in leading a Group of Five school to the CFP for the first time ever.
Shedeur Sanders, QB — Jackson State Tigers
— Jackson State Football (@GoJSUTigersFB) December 5, 2021
The highest-ranked freshman signee in program history was better than advertised, leading the Tigers to their first SWAC title since 2007. The win in last week’s title game means JSU will now participate in its first Celebration Bowl. They’ll face MEAC Champion South Carolina State in what is considered the de facto Black College National Championship.
— Jackson State U. (@JacksonStateU) December 5, 2021
The strong-armed Sanders led the Tigers to an undefeated conference record (8-0) and the first 11-win season in the school’s rich football history. Along the way he brought the same energy that his dad infuses into his teams.
With more pressure than most freshmen have to deal with, Sanders still picked up SWAC Freshman of the Year and Second-Team All-SWAC honors. He’s also a finalist for the Walter Payton (most outstanding offensive player in Division I FCS) and the Jerry Rice Award (most outstanding freshman in Division I FCS).
Shedeur Sanders is a finalist for the 2021 Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the national freshman player of the year at the FCS level
— Jackson State Athletics (@GoJSUTigers) November 23, 2021
Sanders, once a Florida Atlantic commit before deciding to lead his Dad’s HBCU culture transformation, has proved you don’t always have to go the (Division I FBS) route to get the visibility and acclaim.
Shedeur passed for 3,056 yards, 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions on the season, while leading the conference in completion percentage (67.9) with a QB rating of 158.2. Decision-making and his improvisional skills are two of his best traits. If he stays at JSU Sanders will be around for at least two more seasons in Jackson.
Bryce Young, QB — Alabama Crimson Tide
There were question marks surrounding slenderly built Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Could he lead a team that just won the national championship and had five players from the previous season taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft? It’s safe to say he’s done that and more this season, so much he’s locked up the Heisman Trophy for his efforts.
421 pass yards (SEC Championship Game record)
40 rush yards
4 total TD
Bryce Young put on a SHOW. pic.twitter.com/kNmmNZCdE4
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 5, 2021
The Mater Dei HS Monarchs product has shown week in and week out why he was so highly coveted coming out of high school. The No. 1-ranked QB in the 2020 recruiting cycle, and No. 2-ranked overall player has exceeded the lofty expectations in leading the Crimson Tide to the cusp of another national title.
With his poise, accuracy, leadership and ability to play off schedule, Young came in with almost $1M in NIL deals, shook up the CFB world and will make himself several million more before he enters the pros as the next franchise signal caller to come out of the Tuscaloosa factory.
🔥 421 pass yards (SEC Championship Game record)
🔥 40 rush yards
🔥 4 total TD pic.twitter.com/mZLSearuZ5
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) December 5, 2021
You know what’s scary? The elite Southern Cal product has two to three more years of eligibility to wreak havoc on SEC and college football defenses if he so chooses.
Desmond Ridder, QB — Cincinnati Bearcats
Ridder is the quarterback of the first Group of Five team to crash the College Football Playoff, so his impact can’t be measured from just a football standpoint.
Ridder’s effect on the Bearcats extends beyond numbers. From the time he took the field in the Bearcats’ 2018 season opener against UCLA, he and the program have been on an upward trajectory. He led the transformation from second-tier team to infiltrating the giants of the sport.
His 86 career passing touchdowns and over 10,000 career passing yards weren’t expected when the lightly recruited former two-star signal caller was given the keys to the program. With over 12,000 career yards and 112 touchdowns — both conference records — he’s done some amazing things. During his tenure the Bearcats have tallied a perfect record at home of 26-0.
America's only perfect football team. pic.twitter.com/r9xOOacXm0
— Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) December 5, 2021
Ridder now has the chance to add to his already impressive résumé, as his Bearcats face No. 1 Alabama in the CFP.
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