2024 Bryant vs Delaware

2024 Coastal Athletic Association Quarterback Preview

2024 Coastal Athletic Association Quarterback Preview

The Coastal Athletic Association heads into the 2024 football season with perhaps the nation's best collection of returning quarterbacks.

May 30, 2024 by Kyle Kensing

The most collectively impressive class of quarterbacks in the Football Championship Subdivision arguably resides in the Coastal Athletic Association. 

A host of standout returning starters headlines set the scene for what should be a wide-open 2024 season. But along with the crop of experienced field generals, the Coastal also heads into the summer with plenty of intriguing quarterback battles. 

Get primed for the 2024 CAA campaign with a look at the quarterback situations across the conference. 

Returning Starting Quarterbacks

Ryan O'Connor, Delaware 

Welcoming back a veteran playmaker is increasingly a luxury in college football with the present-day rules. Delaware embarks on its final CAA season in the unusual position of having two quarterbacks who showed their ability to effectively guide the offense a season ago. 

Both Ryan O'Connor and Zach Marker impressed in significant snaps during the 2023 campaign. O'Connor was the primary starter on the Blue Hens' road to the FCS Playoffs, throwing 19 touchdowns in 10 games and surpassing 2,100 yards through the air. 

Marker also showed plenty of potential in five appearances, during which he completed 42-of-65 pass attempts for 678 yards. 

O'Connor is the clear-cut No. 1, however, and a candidate for CAA honors. He passed for three touchdowns and four touchdowns twice each in 2023 and exceeded 300 yards on four occasions. A year of experience in coach Ryan Carty's high-tempo offense should see O'Connor take another jump in 2024. 

Matthew Downing, Elon 

When Davis Cheek moved on after the 2021 season, Elon had a big void to fill at quarterback: Then came Matthew McKay, a dynamic dual-threat who brought a new element to the position. 

With McKay gone a year ago, the Phoenix again faced quarterback questions. Enter Matthew Downing, a transfer from Louisiana Tech. 

Downing made tremendous strides throughout the season, hitting his stride over the final month. He erupted for five multiple-touchdown pass performances in Elon's final six games, including a three-game stretch in which he completed at least 66.7 percent of all his attempts against William & Mary, North Carolina Central, and Monmouth. 

His 261 yards on 10 completions and four touchdowns to close 2023 against Hampton perhaps foreshadowed the kind of monster season Downing could deliver in 2024.  

Chris Zellous, Hampton 

Among the nation's most potentially electrifying two-way playmakers, Chris Zellous returns to captain the Hampton Pirates once more. Zellous uses his length at 6-foot-3 effectively when carrying the ball, averaging almost five yards per run en route to 183 in 2022. 

He followed up with 559 yards on 120 carries last season and led the Pirates with nine rushing touchdowns. At the same time, Zellous showed his potential as a passer with 13 touchdowns and a shade less than 1,500 yards on 127 completions. 

Another jump in passing production akin to his production from 2022 to 2023 — the former of which he was used almost exclusively as a ball-carrier — could make Zellous one of the most productive quarterbacks in the nation. He's working toward that end in the summer with a stint as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy. 

Kyle Wickersham, Richmond

Richmond's turnaround after a slow start to 2023 and ensuing run to a share of the CAA championship coincided with Kyle Wickersham's fast maturation as starting quarterback. 

Wickersham put together a remarkable string of eight consecutive games completing 66.7 percent of his pass attempts or better. A 20-of-27 performance in which Wickersham threw for two touchdowns while also rushing for 130 yards and a third score was his best of the regular season. 

He exceeded that in the Playoffs, however, going 16-of-23 for a career-high 291 yards, three touchdowns and 69 yards rushing in Richmond's 1st Round defeat of North Carolina Central. 

Wickersham's combination of physical ball-carrying with calculated efficiency as a passer has the Spiders primed to contend for one last CAA championship before they move to the Patriot League in 2025. 

Casey Case, Stony Brook

First-year Stony Brook head coach Billy Cosh returns to the CAA where, in 2022, he oversaw a one-year transformation of the Richmond offense. Cosh takes over on Long Island with a similar Year 1 priority, and quarterback Casey Case returns to take over the uptempo attack. 

Case transferred into Stony Brook from Buffalo a season ago and started nine games, going 145-of-264 passing for 1,715 yards with 10 touchdowns. His standout performance came in a 22-of-37, 348-yard and four-touchdown effort vs. Maine. 

The 6-foot-6 Case has the prototypical pocket-passer frame and showed flashes of impressive arm strength. Improved accuracy, which the new-look Stony Brook offense fosters, could help Case take his performance to another level comparable to Reece Udinski's standout 2022 at Richmond. 

Udinski went a remarkable 378-of-515 for 3,614 yards and 29 touchdowns and was only intercepted five times. Effectively spreading out the defense and attacking with a methodical yet fast-paced approach could fit Case's skill set nicely in a similar fashion. 

Nathan Kent, Towson

Following the more traditional path for a college quarterback has paid dividends for Nathan Kent. He spent his first two seasons at Towson as an understudy, attempting a total of 24 passes in 2021 and 2022. 

Once his opportunity to take over as the starter came, Kent applied his lessons from being a back-up and flourished. He threw for 2,123 yards in 2023 with 14 touchdowns against only six interceptions and mixed in an effectively physical rushing style to the tune of 288 yards and three touchdowns. 

Kent approaches his second-year running coordinator Brian Sheppard's offense, which has plenty of influence from second-year Tigers head coach Pete Shinnick. Shinnick was head coach of one of the most prolific offenses at the Div. II level, which resulted in a 2019 national championship for West Florida. 

Sheppard, meanwhile, implemented a scheme in which the influence from Minnesota's physical brand of Big Ten football and VMI's air raid are both evident. Kent is well-suited to bring the concept to life and heads into 2024 with plenty of experience to his credit. 

Connor Watkins, Villanova

One could make a strong case that the best season from any quarterback in the CAA last season came courtesy of Villanova's Connor Watkins. 

Watkins reached the illustrious 20/10 mark — 20-plus touchdown passes and 10-plus rushing scores in the same season — and did so with remarkable efficiency. He finished top 10 nationally with a passing efficiency rating of 157.4 and had multiple scoring throws that exceeded 50 yards. 

Coupled with his tenacious ball-carrying style, Watkins solidified himself as a unique blend of big-play specialists able to flip a game in one throw and savvy field general able to extend drives. 

That combination is the result of experience. Few quarterbacks anywhere in college football are as immersed in their programs as Watkins is heading into 2024. His savvy is a key reason Villanova will contend for a national championship in 2024. 

Kevin White, North Carolina A&T

The Aggies endured plenty of growing pains in their first CAA season. Kevin White likewise experienced plenty of challenges as the freshman quarterback of the A&T offense. 

White will look to parlay those lessons into production as a sophomore. He's back to lead North Carolina A&T into Year 2 of its CAA tenure after sharing the reins with Eli Brickhandler last season. 

White was one of A&T's top ball-carriers, producing almost five yards per run for 272 and three touchdowns on the campaign. He also led the Aggies in passing, though improving on his 507-yard output to give A&T a more balanced threat will be critical to the team improving in the CAA standings. 

Darius Wilson, William & Mary

Darius Wilson enters his fourth season commanding the William & Mary offense. Wilson has been outstanding in coordinator Christian Taylor's offense, combining expert field vision and heady playmaking to bring the Tribe's varied look to life. 

Wilson embarks on the 2024 having rushed for a hair below 1,300 yards with 10 touchdowns, functioning as a catalyst for William & Mary's multifaceted ground game. He's also completed 60 percent of his pass attempts or more all three seasons, peaking in the Tribe's 2022 CAA championship-winning campaign with a 63 percent average. 

Wilson also went for career-bests of 2,252 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2022. Should he return to that level of production in 2024 while maintaining his game-breaking ball-carrying ability, the Tribe should bounce right back to the forefront of the Coastal title race. 

CAA Football Quarterback Competitions 


2023 Starter: Reese Poffenbarger (transferred to Miami

Names to Know in 2024: Wisconsin transfer Myles Burkett; Trey Lindsey 

UAlbany faces some crucial roster turnover after the best season in program history. Quarterback Reese Poffenbarger led the FCS in total passing yards with 3,603 and touchdowns with 36, captaining the Great Danes to a CAA championship and national semifinal run. 

He transferred to an FBS power-conference program in the University of Miami, but coach Greg Gattuso welcomes a newcomer from the power-conference ranks, Myles Burkett. 

Burkett was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Wisconsin, then signed with the Big Ten's Wisconsin Badgers in 2022. He reportedly handled a majority of first-team duties in the spring while UAlbany's primary reserve quarterback in 2023, Trey Lindsey, was sidelined due to injury. 

Lindsey appeared in four games last season, completing his lone pass attempt for a 22-yard gain. Lindsey came to UAlbany by way of another power-conference program: He spent the 2022 season with the Southeastern Conference's Auburn Tigers. 


2023 Starter: Zevi Eckhaus (transferred to Washington State) 

Names to Know in 2024: Ridge Docekal; Coastal Carolina transfer Jarrett Guest 

CAA newcomer Bryant arrives with a new quarterback poised to guide the offense. Zevi Eckhaus had a strong 2023 with 2,907 yards and 28 touchdown passes against only seven interceptions. He's headed to Washington State, leaving a vacancy that makes for one of the Coastal's most intriguing quarterback competitions. 

Bryant added Idaho transfer Ridge Docekal last season. The Phoenix native spent a season with the FCS Playoffs-qualifying Vandals and appeared in five games last year as a Bulldog. He went 10-of-14 passing with a touchdown. 

Docekal's most likely competition for the starting job in 2024 figures to be Coastal Carolina transfer Jarrett Guest. Guest backed up standout Grayson McCall, and played significant snaps for CCU over the last two seasons. He attempted 54 passes in 2022 and 61 in 2023, going 44-of-61 for 696 yards with seven touchdowns a year ago. 


2023 Starter: Hajj-Malik Williams (transferred to UNLV)  

Names to Know in 2024: Chad Mascoe Jr.; Bryan Wilson 

Veteran quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams had some outstanding stretches in Campbell's inaugural CAA season. With his transfer to UNLV, the Camels embark on their second year in the Coastal looking to replace the two-way playmaking he brought the previous few campaigns. 

The slate is pretty much clear for head coach Braxton Harris and the new Campbell staff, with the quarterbacks on the roster having limited experience captaining the Camels. But don't confuse that with a lack of ability. Campbell's been among the best recruiting programs in the FCS for a few years in a row, signing top 100-ranked classes in all of Div. I that included quarterbacks Chad Mascoe Jr. and Bryan Wilson. 

Both were 3-star prospects per 247Sports. Mascoe's experience in the program would seemingly give him a leg up over the 2024 signee Wilson, but it could be an interesting summer race all the same. 


2023 Starter: Derek Robertson (transferred to Monmouth) 

Names to Know in 2024: Anthony Harris; Mercer transfer Carter Peevy 

With Derek Robertson moving on but staying in the CAA — more on that in a bit — Maine heads into 2024 with a quarterback vacancy but no shortage of experience ready to step up. 

Anthony Harris is headed into his fourth season at Maine after seeing his first significant action a year ago. Harris played seven games for the Black Bears in 2023 and went 13-of-18 passing for 111 yards with a touchdown. He is poised to battle newcomer Carter Peevy for the top of the depth chart. 

Peevy comes to Maine by way of Mercer, which made its first-ever FCS Playoffs in 2023 with Peevy behind center. The Lawrenceville, Georgia native completed 66.7 percent of his pass attempts or better in seven games last season, totaled 2,284 yards through the air, and ran for 324 yards with 12 scores. 

If he wins the job, Peevy's dual-threat style brings a new dynamic the Maine offense hasn't had with its quarterbacks in recent years. 


2023 Starter: Marquez McCray (graduated) 

Names to Know in 2024: Maine transfer Derek Robertson 

A year ago at this time, Sacred Heart transfer Marquez McCray was getting ready to take over as Monmouth's starting quarterback. McCray was outstanding in his lone season with the Hawks, throwing for 2,602 yards and 21 touchdowns. 

Derek Robertson aims to make a similar splash in an FCS-to-FCS transfer. Robertson's no stranger to the CAA, either, quarterbacking Maine in the fall 2021 and 2023 seasons. 

Robertson passed for 1,505 yards and 12 touchdowns with only four interceptions in eight games in 2021, then rebounded from an injury that kept him out in 2022 to throw for 25 touchdowns in 2023. He also flirted with 3,000 yards a season ago. 

New Hampshire

2023 Starter: Max Brosmer (transferred to Minnesota) 

Names to Know in 2024: Barry Kleinpeter; Shepherd transfer Seth Morgan; Matt Vezza

Max Brosmer added his name to the impressive list of quarterbacks to have played at New Hampshire. Brosmer was a Walter Payton Award finalist in 2023, leaving big shoes for his replacement to follow in 2024. 

Two of his former teammates, Barry Kleinpeter and Matt Vezza, remain in Durham to vie for the job. Each saw action in late-game situations a season ago. 

The addition of Seth Morgan is intriguing. He comes to UNH with experience filling in for a program legend, having stepped in at Div. II Shepherd a year ago to take over for Harlon Hill Trophy winner and brief Chicago Bears sensation Tyson Bagent. 

Morgan passed for almost 3,000 yards with 24 touchdowns and led the Rams to the Div. II Playoffs last year. 

Rhode Island

2023 Starter: Kasim Hill (graduated) 

Names to Know in 2024: Devin Farrell; Clemson transfer Hunter Helms 

Kasim Hill left Rhode Island having made a mark as one of the best players in program history. Replacing him is no light responsibility, which is probably why Rams head coach Jim Fleming told the Providence Journal this spring he may not make a decision until moments before the 2024 season opener. 

Hill came to Rhode Island as a transfer from an FBS power conference program, Maryland. His two most likely candidates to succeed him arrived at URI from similar paths, with Devin Farrell joining the Rams a year ago via Virginia Tech; and this year's newcomer, Hunter Helms, transferring in from Clemson. 

Farrell played in six games for the Rams last season, rushing five times for 31 yards and going 2-of-3 passing with a touchdown. Helms, who spent four years in Death Valley, went 23-of-37 for 218 yards with two touchdowns (both in 2020) and rushed once for 16 yards. 

Their competition to start figures to be a prevailing storyline throughout the summer — and perhaps beyond.

Archived Footage On FloFootball

Video footage from the event will be archived and stored in a video library for FloFootball subscribers to watch for the duration of their subscription.

Join the Conversation on Social At FloFootball