The Atlantic Coast Conference had the most quarterbacks chosen of any conference nationally with five selections on the 2015 Manning Award Preseason Watch List announced Thursday.
The Manning Award, created and sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, honors the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting. A total of 30 quarterbacks nationally were chosen for this year’s Watch List.
Leading the way is Clemson sophomore Deshaun Watson, who was voted the ACC’s preseason Player of the Year by the credentialed media at the recently concluded ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C.
Joining Watson is NC State senior Jacoby Brissett, Miami sophomore Brad Kaaya, Georgia Tech junior Justin Thomas and North Carolina senior Marquise Williams.
Brissett recorded one of the best seasons in ACC history in interception avoidance in 2014, tossing only five picks in 370 attempts with 23 touchdown passes.
Kaaya was named the ACC Rookie of the Year after leading the conference in passing efficiency (145.9) and touchdown passes (26).
Thomas rushed for 1,086 yards—the second-highest total by a quarterback in ACC history–and recorded a passing efficiency mark of 153.90 which would have led the conference had he had enough pass attempts. He accounted for 26 touchdowns (TDR) in leading Tech to an 11-3 record and No. 8 national ranking.
Watson, despite being limited to eight games due to injury, managed a passing efficiency rating of 188.57 which would have led the nation had he played in enough game to qualify. Watson accounted for 19 touchdowns, passing and rushing, in his abbreviated rookie season.
Williams ran and passed for 34 touchdowns in 2014, which tied for the ninth-best single-season total in ACC history, and finished second in the conference in total offense with 3,856 yards.
The ACC members of the 2015 preseason Manning Watch List are:
Player School Cl. Hometown
Jacoby Brissett NC State Sr.-R West Palm Beach, Fla.
Brad Kaaya Miami So. West Hills, Calif.
Justin Thomas Georgia Tech Jr.-R Prattville, Ala.
Deshaun Watson Clemson So. Gainesville, Ga. .
Marquise Williams North Carolina Sr. Charlotte, N.C.