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The Year of the Quarterback
By Gary Danielson
Special to

As the 2000 college football season begins, I don't know who is going to win the Heisman, but I do know what position is going to win. It's going to be a quarterback. Top to bottom, North to South, the quarterback position has never been stronger in college football. The quarterback is making a bigger impact than ever before.

In this weekly column, I am going to break down the position and rank the top ones each week.

No. 1 -- Chris Weinke, Florida State
I think he goes into the year with a prejudice with voters against him because of his age. It's nothing a national championship won't solve.

No. 2 -- Drew Brees, Purdue
Drew Brees
If Drew Brees can lead Purdue to the Big Ten title, he could become Purdue's first Heisman winner.
He holds all the records. (He broke mine during his freshman year.) Purdue has had three runner-ups in the past (Bob Griese, Leroy Keyes and Mike Phipps). If Drew Brees wins the Big Ten and has his normal year, he might be the first one ever from Purdue.

No. 3 -- Eric Crouch, Nebraska
A master of running their bread-and-butter option. He has as good of an arm as any quarterback ever at Nebraska. A national championship at Nebraska puts him right there at the top.

No. 4 -- Michael Vick, Virginia Tech
You don't have to tell me how amazing he is. I worked the National Championship Game last year. He looked like he was playing against a MAC school instead of the Florida State cream of the crop. He is going to face a bigger challenge this season as the Virginia Tech defense won't be getting him the ball as quickly. And defensive coordinators will try to get the ball out of his hands quicker by blitzing him more. But I am not betting against him.

No. 5 -- Quincy Carter, Georgia
He has been undisciplined in the past. He has all the talents, but has been inconsistent. He makes all the hard plays. He is sometimes lackidasical. He has tremendous firepower returning. And if his defense is strong enough, Georgia could win the SEC.

No. 6 -- Marques Tuiasosopo, Washington
He's not at a high profile school. He may be as good a run-and-passing quarterback in the Pac-10 in I don't know how long. He's the same type of quarterback as Cade McNown. He surpasses Cade in running, but not in passing. He has Eric Crouch skill without Eric Crouch's stage to show it.

No. 7 -- Carson Palmer, USC
He might be the pro scout's favorite quarterback on the board. He has bigger size than Drew Brees. And if he can stay healthy, he might be able to lead Southern California back into the Top 15.

No. 8 -- Major Applewhite/Chris Simms, Texas
> A combustible, explosive situation. Both for the good and for the bad if not handled right. Not very often do you see the Big XII Offensive Player of the Year being challenged for the starting lineup. The team is good enough to make a run for the conference championship. If they do, whoever is playing will get all the credit.

No. 9 -- Kurt Kittner, Illinois
Great bowl game. Beat Michigan a year ago.

No. 10 -- Josh Heupel, Oklahoma
All he does is put up stats. Now he needs to win more games.

Others to watch
Ken Dorsey, Miami
Ortege Jenkins, Arizona
Antwaan Randle El, Indiana
Andrew Zow, Alabama

Gary Danielson writes a column every Monday for