2021 Mountain West Football Top 50 Players: #10, San Jose State QB Nick Starkel
The Spartans quarterback led the team’s trip to the mountaintop and lands on our list of Mountain West football’s best.
One of last season’s best stories.
The next player on our annual countdown of Mountain West football’s top performers can be considered the face of one of college football’s top stories from last fall, not to mention that he is one of its most compelling individual vindications.
Nick Starkel came to San Jose State after stints at both Texas A&M and Arkansas, where he experienced the highs and lows of a promising start under one coaching staff and a reversal of fortunes under another. No one was sure of what to expect from Starkel, only that it’d be difficult to replace the Mountain West’s outgoing offensive player of the year… until he completed over 75% of his throws in a season-opening win against Air Force and then bombarded New Mexico to the tune of 467 yards and five touchdowns, setting the tone for college football’s most unexpected breakthroughs.
By the end of the 2020 season, Starkel had completed 64.2% of his passes for 2,174 yards and 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions and the Spartans had claimed their first conference championship. He was at his best in that title game against Boise State and earned Offensive MVP honors by throwing for 453 yards, the most by any quarterback against the Broncos since 2016, and three touchdowns.
Instead of moving on, though, Starkel decided to run things back with head coach Brent Brennan and offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven one more time and take aim at a repeat performance. Though he’ll have to engineer the SJSU offense without Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither this time around, Starkel could take the Spartans to new heights, anyway.
Beautiful throw from Nick Starkel pic.twitter.com/Pm76LTk0Gu
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) December 20, 2020
“No one is going to exceed our expectations, we’re hoping to exceed others expectations and prove ourselves right rather than prove others wrong.” – @NickStarkel at SJSU Welcome back press conference #SpartanUp pic.twitter.com/0fcIyXB3jT
— San José State Football 🏆 (@SanJoseStateFB) August 20, 2021