For the second straight year college football will welcome back a trio of 4,000-yard passers on Saturdays this fall. In addition to that some of the top passers from the ACC, Big East, SEC and Pac 12 are all back. So is the most recent Heisman Trophy winner. As the game continues to slant downfield in favor of the passing offenses from coast to coast, the 2013 season looks to be equipped well for another air show.
But how many of the nation's leading passers returning in 2013 are you familiar with? By now even the most casual fan should be acquainted with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, who woke up many in the SEC with a surprising Heisman Trophy run as a redshirt freshman. In the same conference we saw Georgia's Aaron Murray come with yards of putting the Bulldogs in the BCS championship game after another fine year statistically. This season Murray looks to etch his name atop some of the SEC record books.
Manziel and Murray each are a part of the nation's top ten passers returning in 2013 when looking at passing yardage. The list also includes a Heisman contender in Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, who returns to give Clemson an offense that threatens to make another ACC run. The ACC also has another top ten passer back in 2013 with Bryn Renner leading Larry Fedora's new look offense.
Here is a quick run down of the top ten passing leaders returning in 2013.
1. Rakeem Cato, Marshall
4,201 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rakeem Cato finished fourth in the nation in passing last season but is the leading passer returning this season after Nick Florence (Baylor), Landry Jones (Oklahoma), and Seth Doege (Texas Tech) have moved on. Cato completed 69.5 percent of his passes last season and he passed for at least 400 yards three times.
2. David Fales, San Jose State
4,193 yards, 33 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
David Fales is starting to spark some comparisons to another San Jose sate quarterback, Jeff Garcia. After completing over 72 percent of his pass attempts last season it is his accuracy that is receiving the most praise. Fales ended his season with 395 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a Military Bowl victory over Bowling Green.
3. Derek Carr, Fresno State
4,104 yards, 37 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
A consensus All-Mountain West Conference first teamer last season, Carr is following in the footsteps of his older brother David. Carr racked up over 4,000 passing yards and threw just seven interceptions, two of which came in a bowl loss to SMU. He should once again rack up the stats in 2013.
4. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
3,869 yards, 36 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Clemson's quarterback was the tenth leading passer last season and with the offensive talent surrounding him he should easily be among the leaders once again in 2013. Boyd threw for five touchdowns in a single game three times last season and is working on cutting down some mistakes each season. He ended his season with a memorable comeback against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, passing for two touchdowns and zero interceptions and completing 72.0 percent of his pass attempts for 346 yards.
5. Aaron Murray, Georgia
3,893 yards, 36 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Few players are able to bring the kind of playing experience Murray will be able to offer Georgia in 2013. Entering his fifth season of eligibility, Murray already has three years of starting experience behind him. Murray sits atop a number of individual passing records already and should continue to add to his body of work this season, but most importantly he wants to leave Georgia with a BCS title. He keeps getting closer. Will this be the year?
6. Brett Hundley, UCLA
3,740 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
One of the youngest bust-out players last season may have been UCLA's Brett Hundley, who rushed for a long touchdown on his first snap of his collegiate career last season. Hundley completed 66.5 percent of his passes and ended the year with a three-touchdown performance against Baylor. Still, he had some typical freshman moments and still put together an impressive year.
7. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
Despite being banged up at times and hobbled late in the season, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater had a strongly consistent and accurate season while leading the Cardinals to a Big East championship and a smashing Sugar Bowl victory against Florida. Entering the 2013 season Bridgewater should be among the Heisman contenders from the start after opening up some eyes last season. When healthy, Bridgewater is among the best in the country.
8. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
3,706 yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
Johnny Manziel shook up the SEC and college football world last season by being able to do just about anything. We know he was able to do some serious damage with his feet but Johnny Football also put up 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns through the air. Will he be able to keep up this momentum now that everyone has gotten a look at what he can do?
9. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
3,373 yards, 27 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
One of the more entertaining quarterbacks the nation may have missed last season is Utah State's Chuckie Keeton. In the second half of the season Keeton started to take charge of the offense with his legs, but throughout the year Keeton was able to find a rhythm through the air. In the second half of the season Keeton passed for multiple touchdowns in each game until a dominating bowl victory against Toledo.
10. Bryn Renner, North Carolina
3,356 yards, 28 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
A new offensive approach at North Carolina paid off well for Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner. Renner passed for more yards and touchdowns while throwing fewer interceptions than in 2011, and did so in one fewer game on the schedule due to a postseason ban. There were many improvements in North Carolina's offense in 2012 and although Renner's accuracy dipped a few points from 2011, his overall impact on the offense was a positive one and could be once again in 2013.
Statistics courtesy CFBStats.com.