2024 Gulf South Conference Football

10 Quarterbacks To Watch In Division II Football Entering the 2024 Season

10 Quarterbacks To Watch In Division II Football Entering the 2024 Season

Here’s a look at 10 quarterbacks to watch in NCAA Division II ahead of the 2024 season.

Jul 8, 2024 by Briar Napier

We only have one more full month of waiting until college football returns, and after a season chock-full with record breakers in NCAA Division II a year ago, the hype ahead of the 2024 season is real.

Sure, rushing attacks might have been the name of the game at the elite levels of D-II ball in 2023, considering that the national champion smashed plenty of run-game records on its way to a title win. But keep in mind that there was a lot of strong quarterback play in the meantime — including some record-setters under center, too.

From the NCAA division that’s produced NFL starters at quarterback like Jon Kitna and Tyson Bagent, there are more exciting pro prospects in the current crop of D-II stars at signal caller. 

And with FloFootball being the exclusive streaming home of some of the best D-II conferences in the country, you’ll be able to see many of the names on this list all throughout the fall.

Here’s a look at 10 quarterbacks to watch in NCAA Division II ahead of the 2024 season:

Gavin Sukup, Indianapolis

He’s only needed two seasons of college football to prove it, but all Sukup has done so far in his career is win, win, and win some more. 

The Nebraska native was a national title-winning quarterback by the end of his freshman year as he took the College of DuPage (Illinois) to a junior college championship in 2022. That potential caught UIndy’s eye and Sukup committed to the Greyhounds for his sophomore season, with him immediately establishing himself as the man right away in the process. 

The Great Lakes Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a Harlon Hill Trophy candidate last year, Sukup was responsible for nearly 3,000 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns combined (passing and rushing) as he led UIndy to its second straight trip to the playoffs, where he set a school playoff record with a 71.4% completion percentage in the Greyhounds’ defeat to Pittsburg State. 

Super Region 3 is brutal with defending national champion Harding, perennial power Ferris State, and others littered throughout the ranks, but UIndy will have a shot to contend as long as Sukup keeps slinging the pigskin the way he has been in his still-growing career. 

Carson Gulker, Ferris State

It wasn’t quite the eye-popping, 31 rushing-touchdown campaign he put up as a freshman in 2022 to first put the entirety of D-II football on notice, but Gulker (as he split time at quarterback with Mylik Mitchell, who is now starring in the Indoor Football League) did more than enough in 2023 for FSU to further establish that he’s one of the most lethal and versatile offensive weapons in the country.

Gulker finished the 2023 campaign as the Bulldogs’ leading rusher with 707 yards and 14 touchdowns from 144 touches to his name, adding 722 yards through the air with 10 touchdowns to those stats as an effective second option whenever FSU coach Tony Annese wanted to throw defense a different look other than Mitchell. 

The Bulldogs, whose bid for a national title three-peat last season was ended by hated Anchor-Bone rival Grand Valley State in the opening round of the playoffs, lose a lot, but with guys like Gulker — who had five rushing scores in a game against Michigan Tech last season — odds are that FSU’s future will be in good hands until further notice.

Dustin Noller, Limestone

The ringleader behind Limestone’s back-to-back playoff bids the past two seasons, pulling off the feat for the first time in program history, Noller is back in business with the Saints as a graduate student this year after building further upon what were already solid numbers from Limestone’s landmark 2022 season — their first winning campaign since the football team began play in 2014. 

Noller beefed up his passing stats last season in just about every category, throwing for more yards (2,966 from 2,480 in 2022), more touchdowns (31 from 21), fewer interceptions (four from 11) and a higher completion percentage (65% from 60%) as he earned a well-deserved selection as the South Atlantic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and a Harlon Hill Trophy nomination, rewriting Limestone’s school record books in the process. 

Chemistry out of the gates with the new head coach (and former NFL wide receiver) Jerricho Cotchery will be important, but Noller has the proven skillset and production to be a key veteran piece in a new era for Saints football. 

Jack Strand, Minnesota State Moorhead

If things continue to trend upward, we could be in the midst of potentially historic career marks from Strand, who is only a junior but already has a list of individual accolades and achievements others in similar spots could only dream of. 

A starter for the Dragons since he was a true freshman, Strand’s sophomore campaign last season was his official announcement that he had arrived on the national stage as he broke program records for passing yardage (3,914) and passing touchdowns (36) en route to winning Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors, although he wasn’t able to let loose on a postseason stage as the Dragons just missed out on a playoff berth for the first time since 1994 when they were in the NAIA. 

There isn’t really any sign that Strand’s surge is slowing down anytime soon, however, and as long as he keeps on reaching new heights, the rest of the MSUM program may follow as it seeks its first NSIC title since 1995.

Kyle Walljasper, Minnesota Duluth

One of only three quarterbacks in all of D-II who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, Walljasper was the only one of the bunch to do it as an underclassman as the NSIC’s leader in rushing touchdowns (16) broke out and became one of D-II’s best dual-threat passers in the country. 

A Harlon Hill Trophy nominee, Walljasper was responsible for 38 touchdowns in all compared to just three interceptions, but despite leading the Bulldogs to a 9-2 record and a big win on the final week of the regular season over Minnesota State, UMD missed out on one of what would be three playoff bids given out to NSIC members. Walljasper’s return to the fold for this upcoming season as a redshirt junior, however, gives the Bulldogs some extra returning firepower behind their motivation to break through and get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2021.

Judd Novak, Kutztown

A new standard was set at Kutztown this past season as the Golden Bears won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference for the third time in four years, set a school record for wins in a season with 12, and made the national semifinals for the first time in program history — and that was all after an 0-2 start. KU has breakout stud Novak to thank for a lot of that, particularly during its run to the final four. 

The PSAC East Freshman of the Year finished with 2,239 passing yards and 21 touchdowns with 644 yards and six touchdowns rushing to boot, all while showing off an ability to show up in the clutch, too. Take Kutztown’s win in the second round of the playoffs over Charleston (West Virginia), when he helped steer the Golden Bears to a wild comeback victory (with a go-ahead touchdown run) after being down 14 points with under five minutes left, or an overtime victory in the regular season over upset-seeking Shippensburg, where Novak bolted for a 25-yard scamper and score to seal a KU win. His redshirt sophomore campaign should be just as fun.

Brayden Long, Slippery Rock

Surprise, surprise, The Rock responds to losing a core piece of its team by simply finding someone just as good (if not outright better) to succeed them. After All-American and All-PSAC quarterback selection Noah Grover graduated following the 2022 season, Slippery Rock handed the reins last year to Long, who impressed in a start against Kutztown in 2022 when Grover was sidelined due to an injury. 

In 2023, Long hit the ground running immediately and became one of D-II’s best gunslingers, being named the PSAC West Offensive Athlete of the Year and a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist as he took The Rock to the national quarterfinals, where they couldn’t quite get past a pesky Kutztown. 

A pure pocket passer, Long’s precision throwing the ball is among the best in the country as he threw for 3,808 yards and 35 touchdowns to just six interceptions last season, with his completion percentage of 69.3% ranking fourth in all of D-II — and first in Slippery Rock’s single-season record book.

Kennedy McGill, Central Washington

McGill never became a full-time starter during his redshirt freshman season until late October, but what followed after he was made the Wildcats’ man under center was the stuff of program legend at CWU — and an indication that the still-underclassman signal-caller has a bright future ahead of him. 

He arrived on the scene in the Wildcats’ win over West Texas A&M in which he had a combined 269 yards and two touchdowns, then three weeks later began a historic playoff run as McGill was crucial in CWU’s victories on the road against Western Colorado and Bemidji State before losing to Colorado School of Mines, the top-seeded team in the playoff field, in the national quarterfinals. 

With D-II Cliff Harris Award winner Tanner Volk returning at safety and other key pieces on offense helping out McGill in support, CWU could take a major step forward and contend for a Lone Star Conference crown — and maybe more — in 2024.

Sammy Edwards, Valdosta State

After two seasons as a backup in which he learned the ropes and waited for his time to shine, the Sammy Edwards era at VSU has officially arrived. The Florida native had a monster first season as the Blazers’ first-choice quarterback, earning a plethora of honors in the process as he was named VSU’s Male Athlete of the Year, a Second Team All-GSC selection, and third in voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy. 

His 4,223 passing yards ranked third in D-II last season and his 34 scores through the air was the best in the GSC, too, and combined with a strong returning tailback duo in Bud Chaney and Eric Watts that tallied 16 rushing scores between them in 2023, VSU should have one of D-II’s most lethal offenses once more. 

The four-time national champion Blazers made the national quarterfinals under third-year coach Tremaine Jackson last season, and in “TitleTown USA” where sports hardware seemingly flows from the taps in Valdosta, VSU will be looking to add to the collection with Edwards calling the shots under center.

Zach Zebrowski, Central Missouri

Yeah, the reigning and defending Harlon Hill Trophy winner makes this list, for obvious reasons. 

Arriving to D-II after moving in as a Southern Illinois transfer last offseason, Zebrowski annihilated defenses in his first year at UCM to the tune of D-II-record marks for total offensive yards (5,690) and passing touchdowns (61) in a single season, becoming just the sixth player across all NCAA divisions to ever toss for at least 60 scores in one year. 

The Mules should undoubtedly be one of the top-ranked teams in all of D-II entering the fall while Zebrowski should be favored to be the first repeat winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy since former Ferris State gunslinger Jason Vander Laan did it in 2014 and 2015, and the all-NCAA record of 63 passing touchdowns in a single season from D-III Central (Iowa)’s Blaine Hawkins in 2021 could be in serious jeopardy if UCM makes a deep postseason run. 

Expect more than a few NFL scouts popping up at his games throughout the season while he’s at it, too.

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