Western Kentucky head coach Tyson Helton calls Bailey Zappe the best quarterback he’s ever been around—bear in mind that Helton has coached several quarterbacks, including current Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold while at USC.
“He’s the best one I’ve ever been around—and that includes Sam Darnold,” Helton told reporters. “I love everything about Bailey Zappe. You can check every box: from his competitiveness, to his demeanor, to the way he operates, to his unselfishness, to his leadership, to his accuracy … he’s the best I’ve ever been around… I love Sam Darnold and he’s going to have a great career in the National Football League. If Sam Darnold were sitting here and he watched Bailey Zappe, he would say, ‘I wish I played like Bailey Zappe in college.”
Helton didn’t stop there.
“I think he’s a top-five quarterback in the country. I think the nation needs to know about him, and I think by the end of the season they’re all going to recognize that he’s one of the top-five quarterbacks in the country.”
Zappe hasn’t drawn this type of praise from his head coach and gained recognition from others for no reason. Though he’s a quarterback who hasn’t garnered as much attention as some of the other prospects out there, he’s certainly one to keep an eye on.
So far this season, the Houston Baptist transfer has completed 171-of-243 passes (70.4%) for 2,235 yards with 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions—that’s a very small number of misfires to have considering his passing volume so far this year. In his latest performance, a 52-46 loss to the UTSA Roadrunners, Zappe completed 38-of-60 passes for 523 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Though the Hilltoppers didn’t get the outcome they wanted, Zappe most definitely did his share of the work to give his team the best chance at victory, as he does week in and week out. He’s one of the bright spots on a team that currently sits at 1-4.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of Zappe’s game is his deep ball (though he has shown good accuracy at all levels of the field), which is up there with the likes of Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, who also plays in the Air Raid system that requires a great deal of confidence, a great level of mental processing, and quick decision-making from signal-callers who succeed in it to a high degree—perhaps more than any other system.
Zappe has the type of poise and presence you want in a quarterback who is also a leadership figure. He also has the ability to make things happen off-script, which is important in situations in which a player has to improvise.
Zappe currently leads the nation in average passing yards per game with an average of 447 passing yards—37 yards per game ahead of the next passer, Brennan Armstrong of Virginia.
Don’t be surprised if Zappe eclipses 5,000 passing yards this season or if he ends up being a lot more popular of a topic when April comes around.