This is not a stretch even considering the level of talent at the Big Ten’s disposal: South Florida’s Quinton Flowers will be the best quarterback the Fighting Illini face all season — and they happen to face him early on in the season on a Friday night on ESPN.
The reigning American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year likely is out of the running for the Heisman Trophy simply because he does not play in a Power Five conference, but make no mistake — statistically Flowers isn’t far off of some of the bigger quarterback names in the country including Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, USC’s Sam Darnold and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Flowers fits the mold of an ideal dual threat quarterback. Force him to throw the ball, he’ll scan the field with his eyes and make the correct read. Double team his receivers, and in a flash he’ll pull the ball down and sprint up the field down the sidelines. He has an instinctual feel for the game to match his athletic abilities and natural talent.
Quinton Flowers’ highlight reel from last season should send chills down Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson’s spine.
There are so many times in that clip where Flowers drops back to pass, avoids the oncoming rushers by pivoting and shifting his weight, only to explode the other direction and off he goes for the touchdown. The balance. The improvisational skills. The Fighting Illini are dreading going up against Flowers and the USF Bulls.