Utah State's quarterback situation rated 7th best in FBS by NFL.com; BYU 23rd, Utah 60th

Published: Tuesday, July 15 2014 3:57 p.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, July 15 2014 3:57 p.m. MDT

Quarterback Chuckie Keeton (16) of Utah State scrambles against the University of Utah during NCAA football in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

With the combination of veteran Chuckie Keeton and Darell Garretson atop the depth chart, NFL.com recently ranked Utah State's quarterback situation in 2014 as the seventh best in the country.

That tops fellow in-state schools BYU and Utah, who come in at No. 23 and No. 60, respectively.

Writer Mike Huguenin shared how he developed the system of ranking the quarterback situations of all 128 FBS teams. While experience level for both starter and backup factored in, Huguenin said he most strongly considered the coach's "comfort level" with his quarterbacks, as well as how a quarterback fits into a school's system and an "objective opinion of how these guys will produce" in 2014.

Those factors helped Utah State rank in the top 10 nationally on the list; the top 5 included Florida State (with Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston), Oregon, Ohio State, Baylor and East Carolina.

Keeton was cleared for play in late April after suffering a season-ending knee injury midway through last season. In his absence, Garretson led the Aggies to a 6-1 record in his seven starts and threw for 1,446 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a true freshman.

"If Keeton is fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in early October, he will be a dark-horse Heisman candidate," Huguenin wrote.

The dual-threat Keeton has thrown for 5,961 yards and 56 touchdowns — compared to just 13 interceptions — during his career, and he's added 1,153 rushing yards and 14 more scores. When Keeton's season ended in 2013, he had thrown 18 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

"He is a dangerous runner and a skilled passer," Huguenin said. "He doesn't have a huge arm, but he does trust his arm and can make important throws when needed."

Huguenin said BYU starting quarterback Taysom Hill needs to improve his passing game. Hill, who is backed up by seldom-used senior Christian Stewart, completed just 53.9 percent of his passes in 2013 and his touchdown-to-interception ratio was a pedestrain 19-to-14. But Hill's running ability — he led the Cougars in rushing with 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns — makes him a dynamic quarterback option.

"Hill is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation," Huguenin wrote.

Uncertainty, including injuries and no clear-cut backup in a new offensive system, help contribute to the Utes' ranking on the list. Still, starter Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson bring promise to the position. The junior Wilson completed 60 percent or more of his passes in four of the Utes' first six games in 2013 before injuries ended his season early; he was cleared for contact in June.

Thompson, a three-star dual-threat quarterback, will join the Utes this fall after transferring from Oklahoma.

"Wilson should be a good fit for new coordinator Dave Christensen's up-tempo attack," Huguenin wrote. "Thompson … is a running threat who could see time in some special packages."

Email: bjudd@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd

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