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Midwestern Quarterbacks at Midwestern Schools Part 3: By the Numbers

Based on our historical sample, here are the best possible outcomes

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

After taking a look at the quarterbacks who came from the Midwestern states and played for Midwestern schools from 2000-2008 and then 2009-2015, we can now take a look at the samples and pull out some notable trends, best performers, and an “average” statistical output in order to commit some simply atrocious mathematical prognostication for any and every quarterback from the region going forward.

First, of all the Midwestern colleges, which ones got the most Midwestern blue-chip quarterbacks to sign from 2000-2015 (we’ll count transfers/dismissals in this batch)?


Those five gentlemen in order: Chase Patton, Blaine Gabbert, Blaine Dalton, Maty Mauk, Drew Lock.

Now, obviously two of those guys never played a down, and another two were dismissed, but still: Gary Pinkel did a hell of a job in making sure he signed blue-chip quarterbacks to his program when they originated in his stomping grounds. Other positions not so much; quarterback absolutely.

Credit where it’s due: Barry Odom nabbed Connor Bazelak and Eli Drinkwitz signed Tyler Macon so the guys that followed the Pinkel Regime have also had some wins in this area. It’ll be interesting to do this exercise again in five years to see where Missouri stacks up.

Next, which Midwestern schools were able to get their Midwestern blue-chip quarterbacks to the ranks of the NFL?

  • Northwestern: 2 (out of 3)
  • Ohio State: 2 (out of 3)
  • Missouri: 2 (out of 5)
  • Notre Dame: 2 (out of 7)
  • Kansas State: 1 (out of 2)
  • Michigan State: 1 (out of 2)
  • Purdue: 1 (out of 2)
  • Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota: 0

Not much difference here. It’s also not a super telling statistic since all of these schools - including Missouri - have sent non-Midwestern blue-chip quarterbacks to the NFL. But, still, if you’re a talented quarterback in Missouri/Illinois/Iowa/etc and want to make it in the NFL maybe this is something to consider...especially since Northwestern and Ohio State bafflingly have the same success rate.

Also...yikes, Michigan. Yikes.

Let’s take a look at the standout performers by individual statistic:

Games Played: Clayton Thorson - Northwestern - 53

  • Drew Lock: 50
  • Brady Quinn: 49

Wins: Clayton Thorson - Northwestern - 36

  • Troy Smith & Brady Quinn: 30
  • Kyle Orton: 23

Passing Attempts: Clayton Thorson - Northwestern - 1,696

  • Brett Basanez: 1,584
  • Drew Lock: 1,553

Passing Completions: Clayton Thorson - Northwestern - 991

  • Brady Quinn: 929
  • Brett Basanez: 913

Completion Percentage: Drew Stanton - Michigan State - 64.2%

  • Nathan Scheelhaase: 63.0%
  • Troy Smith: 62.7%

Passing Yards: Drew Lock - Missouri - 12,193

  • Brady Quinn: 11,762
  • Clayton Thorson: 10,731

Passing Touchdowns: Drew Lock - Missouri - 99

  • Brady Quinn: 95
  • Kyle Orton: 63

Most Interceptions Thrown: Clayton Thorson - Northwestern - 45

  • Brady Quinn & Drew Lock: 39
  • Nathan Scheelhaase: 37

Highest Draft Pick: Blaine Gabbert - Missouri - 10th

  • Josh Freeman: 17th
  • Brady Quinn: 22nd

So who is the best Midwestern blue-chip quarterback to play for a Midwestern school?

Troy Smith is certainly an option; he won the Heisman and the Big 10 championship and took his team to the National Championship...but don’t ask what happened when he got there.

Some - especially in this corner of the internet - would say Drew Lock, with his record breaking passing touchdowns and best passing yards of this sample set. But that 21-25 record isn’t very pretty.

Maybe it’s Clayton Thorson who finds himself at the top (or top three) of damn near every statistic here? Or is that just because he played four full years?

It could be Blaine Gabbert since he was drafted the highest. But Josh Freeman is right there behind him and...yeah, no way Josh Freeman is considered the second-best quarterback of this group.

The debate could be endless depending on how you define “best” but what isn’t up for debate is who the best professional was:

Chicago Bears vs Carolina Panthers


Yes, Drew Lock has some time to make a case here but, as of the year-of-our-lord 2021, it’s the Purdue product that claims the best NFL quarterback of the Midwest.

87 games, 82 starts, 42-40 record. 59.5% completion percentage, 18,307 yards, 101 touchdowns. It’s certainly not mind blowing numbers but a.) he’s one of only four guys in this sample set with more than 20 starts and b.) he’s the only one with a winning record while starting more than 20 games.

Bravo, Kyle.

Last point: what does the “average Midwestern blue-chip quarterback at a Midwestern school” stat line look like? Glad you asked! If Connor Bazelak and Tyler Macon hit the averages of their predecessors before them, their careers would look like this:

  • 34 games played
  • 18-16 record
  • 483 passing completions
  • 831 passing attempts
  • 58.1% passing completion
  • 5,969 passing yards
  • 40 passing touchdowns
  • 22 interceptions
  • 57th overall pick in the NFL Draft

Given the “modern” game it’s safe to assume that the averages listed here of passing completions, attempts, and yards should be a hair higher than what they are but everything else seems to be pretty much as expected. What do you think?