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The Hidden Advantages For a Senior Quarterback

As College Football enters the Spring Practice phase of the year there are always some compelling story lines to follow. This spring keep an eye on the teams with senior quarterbacks. Beyond the obvious reason of having a veteran quarterback there is another element to consider.

One of college football’s best-kept secrets is the hidden value of a senior quarterback—particularly a quarterback who has already graduated or is only six credits from getting his degree.

Why does that matter?

A graduate student quarterback need only enroll in six credits to be considered a full-time student. If your senior quarterback hasn’t graduated, he only needs to take the number of classes required for his degree.

The course load and academic time demands drop from carrying a full academic schedule as a junior. That’s less time walking to class, sitting in class and less late nights studying for exams. It also means more time to study film, more time to get training room treatment for bumps and bruises and more time to sleep which helps energy levels and healing.

But how much of a difference can it make? Consider these examples showing how a quarterback’s senior year passer rating can spike from their career rating entering their senior year.

1. 2015 Michigan: Record improved to 10-3 from 5-7 in 2014. Senior Quarterback Jake Ruddock (graduate transfer from Iowa) saw an 11.5 point efficiency rating jump in his senior year.

2. 2016 Pitt: Senior Quarterback Nathan Peterman saw a nearly 35 point jump in his rating. The offense showed an explosive balance in key wins over Clemson and Penn State.

3. 2011 Wisconsin: Senior graduate transfer (from NC State) Russell Wilson’s 56.3 rating jump was key to the Badgers’ Big Ten Title.

4. 2005 Penn State: Senior Quarterback Michael Robinson’s 28.8 jump in his rating helped the Nittany Lion offense lift Penn State to an 11-1 record and Big Ten Title.

While a senior quarterback’s improvement is not guaranteed or an absolute, if your team has a senior quarterback the numbers are in your favor. Penn State’s data helps illustrate that point.

The last senior quarterback to start for Penn State was Matt McGloin in 2012. He saw a jump of roughly 9 points his senior year. Since 1994 10 seniors have started at Quarterback for Penn State averaging an improvement of 12.36 rating points in their senior seasons. Seven of the ten quarterbacks saw increases in their senior passer ratings including every senior QB from 2001 through 2012.

In 2017 in the Big Ten the “senior QB factor” points most directly to Ohio State. With new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson coaching 5th-year senior JT Barrett this could make Ohio State the team to beat in the Big Ten and a College Football Playoff Contender.

With more and more players leaving early for the NFL the value of senior leadership and maturity is higher than ever. Keep an eye on that this spring for your team.

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