John Robertson was the undisputed king of FCS football last season -- statistically and on the field, the Villanova quarterback got top results and caught some eyes in the NFL scouting departments who saw him. The scouts will be coming by in numbers to kick the tires on Robertson this season, and after a great passing performance last season, his stock has never been higher. The closest competitor to Robertson for the Walter Payton Award last season has moved on as a transfer to Oregon.
Will Robertson repeat as the Payton Award winner? Will he break through into the consciousness of college football media enough for a few Heisman votes? Lets start by taking a look at how Robertson is rated.
The Villanova quarterback enters 2015 as the preseason First Team All-American quarterback for FCS, he's projected to be one of the scariest players on any offense in I-AA football. At least one reporter has opined that Robertson could start in the football-iest of conferences, the SEC.
Villanova ranked No 3 nationally FCS in preseason. ... Hard to argue. They have a QB I'm convinced could play in the SEC.— Mike Jensen (@jensenoffcampus) August 5, 2015
Why, then, does it seem that some people just don't take him seriously? Probably because reputable outlets like 247Sports.com don't seem like they want to believe how good he is! To give 247 some credit, it was pretty impressive that they had the foresight to include any FCS players at all in their ranking of the 247 best players in college football -- but they did: Villanova's John Robertson checks in at number-219, and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz appears at number-180.
I get it, Carson Wentz won the FCS title with the Bison and he's part of a dynasty that rips the rest of FCS to shreds annually and is a fair bet to upset an FBS opponent as well. He's not a bad quarterback or a bad football player, but he's not arguably better than John Robertson, and he's certainly not thirty-nine places better. Need proof? Lets look at their stats.
Let's start with the easy ones: Rushing.
Despite playing more games than Robertson, Wentz was not able to out-accumulate the Wildcats' QB with his legs. He scored less and gained fewer yards. Surprisingly, they had the same yards-per-attempt number last season, which was lower for Robertson in 2014 than it had been in prior seasons.
These guys are quarterbacks though, so really the area that matters is Passing.
Wentz had three more games to get it done, and it helped him edge out Robertson in three of the categories listed above -- all cumulative stats. He attempted 57 more passes and completed 31 more passes, for 265 more yards. Robertson completed a higher percentage of his passes, he gained more yards with his arm per game on average, he threw the ball longer, for significantly more touchdowns and significantly fewer interceptions.
Most importantly, he was the second-most efficient passer at any level of college football last season -- he got squeaked past by Heisman winner Marcus Mariota by 0.4 -- and number three wasn't close.
In the end, Carson Wentz belonged on the 247Sports list as much as Robertson did, he has helped lead the Bison to pretty lofty heights in his career. However, he just wasn't really a better quarterback last season.
Last season, the race for best quarterback in FCS was really a two-man show between John "Pinball" Robertson and Eastern Washington's Vernon Adams. The EWU quarterback was the only player who came close to Robertson's production as a passer and as a runner, but wasn't nearly as efficient in the passing game -- and he missed a few weeks to injury that cost him in cumulative stats as well.
This year, while you might expect Wentz to be rock solid yet again for the NDSU Bison, Robertson's competition for best quarterback might come from within his own conference. JMU's Vad Lee heated up as the 2014 season went on, and is looking like one of the best in the CAA and the nation heading into 2014. Don't forget that he was the starter at Georgia Tech before pulling the plug on their triple-option for a chance to show off his arm in Harrisonburg.
247Sports did a good thing by including FCS players in their ranking for sure, but they got it woefully wrong anyway. Wentz may even deserve to be ranked at 180, because John Robertson deserves to be ranked even higher than that.