2023 Fordham vs UAlbany

Five Quarterbacks To Watch In 2023 CAA Football

Five Quarterbacks To Watch In 2023 CAA Football

A loaded class of returning starting quarterbacks promise to shape the landmark 2023 Coastal Athletic Association football season.

Jul 31, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
Highlights: UAlbany Vs. Rhode Island

A collection of the best quarterbacks in the Football Championship Subdivision promises to shape the 2023 Coastal Athletic Association season. 

Some of the playmakers who will end the campaign as the most productive may be taking their first CAA snaps in a few weeks. 

Among returning starters, however, the following five come into the fall with either the highest expectations or the most potential to mold the CAA championship race. 

Max Brosmer, New Hampshire

Highlights: New Hampshire Vs. Rhode Island

Reigning co-CAA champion New Hampshire reloads for 2023, welcoming back Walter Payton Award-caliber running back Dylan Laube and perhaps the most fearsome defensive line in the nation with Josiah Silver and Dylan Ruiz leading the way. 

UNH is that rare team deemed a preseason contender for conference and even national-championship contention with a quarterback who flies under the radar. But such is the case for the Wildcats' Max Brosmer, who embarks on his third season as UNH's starting signal-caller. 

Brosmer helped guide the Wildcats to last year's share of the CAA crown and playoff berth with expert efficiency, completing nearly 63 percent of his 420 pass attempts for 3,154 yards, 27 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Brosmer was also a capable ball-carrier with almost 200 yards rushing. 

If Brosmer takes another leap in his production similar to the jump made from his 2019 freshman campaign to last year's title-leading breakthrough, UNH could boast one of the country's most prolific offenses. 

Reese Poffenbarger, UAlbany 

The Jerry Rice Award contender put together one of the most impressive freshman seasons in recent CAA memory, throwing 24 touchdown passes against just four interceptions with completions on 61.5 percent of his 369 attempts and 2,999 yards. 

Reese Poffenbarger's equal parts electrifying and efficient passing powered the Great Danes to almost 30 points per game, and had UAlbany within striking distance during plenty of 2022 games when defense struggled. With what should be a much improved defense, Poffenbarger playing with similar confidence and production should have the Great Danes in contention to return the Playoffs for the first time since 2019. 

Should Poffenbarger put up numbers comparable to predecessor Jeff Undercuffler, who threw for 41 touchdowns in 2019, UAlbany should be in the hunt for its first-ever CAA championship. 

Kasim Hill, Rhode Island 

Among the more repeated storylines heading into the 2023 CAA football season focuses on Rhode Island's lengthy playoff drought. Though URI has knocked on the door of an at-large FCS Playoffs bid the last two seasons, the Rams have been unable to make the field for the first time since 1985. 

An entrenched starting quarterback, Kasim Hill, will be front-and-center as the 2023 Rams try to end the drought. 

"The team that we have, there's full faith in every single guy around me on offense, defense, special teams, and the coaching staff," Hill said at CAA media day. "When we go out and execute, we feel like no one can really stop us." 

Connor Watkins, Villanova 

Replacing Dan Smith, who quarterbacked Villanova to the Playoffs in 2019 and a CAA championship with a run to the FCS quarterfinals in 2021, loomed as the primary question facing the Wildcats a year ago. 

Connor Watkins absolutely exploded out of the gate, however, including a debut start with three touchdown passes in just five attempts against Lehigh. His four touchdowns in five attempts against Maine upped the ante further. 

Certainly Watkins showed flashes of passing excellence, and he led the team in rushing touchdowns with nine to continue Villanova's tradition of impactful, two-way quarterbacks. Converting those flashes into consistency will be the chief pursuit of Watkins in 2023, as the Wildcats aim to return to the postseason and build off capping last season with a win over playoff-qualifying Delaware in the Battle of the Blue. 

"It was great, number one, for Connor to sit behind Dan Smith, who had five or six years starting as a quarterback," said wide receiver Jaaron Hayek, Villanova's top weapon last season. "But you can't really get the true experience unless you're in the game...having the pressure of stepping back in the pocket, making plays." 

Hayek described CAA competition as "a totally different ballgame." Now that Watkins has experienced it, a totally different quarterback could be leading the Wildcats in 2023. 

Hajj-Malik Williams, Campbell

Conference newcomer Campbell brings a proven starter at quarterback in Year 1 of CAA play. Hajj-Malik Williams captained the Camels offense a season ago in the Big South, where he rushed for a team-leading seven touchdowns and gained 352 yards on the ground to complement his 2,221 yards through the air. 

Williams makes his CAA debut against some of the toughest competition in all of FCS, facing reigning co-Coastal champion William & Mary and the league's preseason favorite on Aug. 31. 

"Everybody will get a chance to see what he's all about. I'm ready to introduce him to the league. He's the one [who] makes the engine go," Campbell coach Mike Minter said of Williams. "This guy is our leader. He's been through a lot. He's seen the transition as we've moved from non-scholarship to scholarship to the Big South now to the CAA. He's ready to lead that charge."