BREAKING: College Football season is less than two months away!
Championship-level teams are usually stacked at the quarterback position. Competition on the practice field each day elevates the level of play come game time.
Here’s a look at the college football teams with the deepest quarterback pockets. All of the teams mentioned below could win the College Football Playoff with their backup quarterbacks.
Likely starter: Dwayne Haskins; redshirt sophomore
Backup: Tate Martell; redshirt freshman
The Skinny: Earlier this month, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer named Dwayne Haskins the starting quarterback heading into training camp. Not long after that, junior Joe Burrow decided to transfer away from Columbus and has since landed at LSU, where he’ll have to sit out the upcoming 2018 season.
Backing up Haskins — and remember, Haskins led Ohio State to a win at Michigan last season when senior J.T. Barrett was injured — is redshirt freshman Tate Martell. By all accounts Tate Martell is ready for the big time, and his performance in spring practice clearly affected Joe Burrow’s decision to transfer.
Bottom line: Dwayne Haskins is big, powerful and savvy enough with a strong arm to develop into the next great Buckeyes quarterback. Tate Martell has plenty of flair and will see the field at certain points in the constantly-evolving Urban Meyer run-first offense.
Likely starter: Unclear and TBD. It’s a two-way battle between redshirt junior Deondre Francois and sophomore James Blackman.
The skinny: Florida State has a new head coach in the offensive-minded Willie Taggart. Taggart comes to Tallahassee with a quarterback conundrum a vast majority of head coaches around the country are envious of.
Unlike the situation at Ohio State, at Florida State both Francois and Blackman are experienced players who have been through the fire of a rigorous ACC schedule. Francois has 14 starts under his belt and missed most of last season with a torn patella injury he suffered in the opener against Alabama. James Blackman played the rest of the 2017 season and threw 19 touchdowns to 11 interceptions on a team that finished 7-6.
Bottom line: Francois should be a full-go come Fall camp and did not play in FSU’s Spring Game. That might give James Blackman a leg up, but expect Willie Taggart to make this an even competition. Either way, FSU is in good hands at the quarterback position.
Likely starter: Kelly Bryant; junior
Backup: Trevor Lawrence; freshman
The skinny: The Clemson Tigers quarterback room isn’t as crowded as it once was now that Hunter Johnson, a quarterback with midwest roots transferred to Northwestern. Kelly Bryant was the starting quarterback last season, and he led the Tigers to a 12-2 record and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Bryant scored 24 touchdowns last season — 13 through the air and another 11 on the ground.
Even with Bryant’s rock-solid season in 2017, there was still no guarantees he’d start in 2018. Why? Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence was the No. 1 prospect in the country irregardless of position according to Rivals.com in the class of 2018. 247sports.com agrees with that ranking. Trevor Lawrence enrolled in the Spring and was able to get on the practice field and play in front 55,000 people at Clemson’s annual Spring Game.
Bottom line: Lawrence is 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 210 pounds. His cannon of an arm is something scouts acknowledge as once-in-a-generation. How much he sees the field (if at all) in 2018 is a question mark.
Likely starter: Jake Fromm; sophomore
Backup: Justin Fields; freshman
The Skinny: Jake Fromm’s emergence as one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks in 2017 came as a total surprise. Former 5-star Jacob Eason was expected to be Georgia’s signal-caller until Eason suffered a knee injury in the Bulldogs’ opener against Appalachian State. Then true-freshman Jake Fromm took over for the rest of the season, and finished the year with 24 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions, leading Georgia to a spot in the College Football Playoff and National Championship Game.
Fromm was an elite prep-school quarterback and held offers from places like Alabama, North Carolina, Nebraska and many others but wanted to compete against Eason for the starting job at the flagship university in his home state. Eason has since transferred to Washington and in the 2018 offseason, Georgia landed the No. 1 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the land in Justin Fields. Fields was originally a Penn State commit and re-opened his recruitment back in June 2017 before solidly committing to Georgia last October.
Bottom line: Fields is good enough to start at quarterback for any team in the country. Head coach Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs are in great hands at the quarterback position — just icing on the cake of the top recruiting class in 2018.
Likely starter: Tua Tagovailoa; sophomore
Backup: Jalen Hurts; junior
The skinny: Alabama hands down has the best quarterback room in the entire country. Why? The talent and more importantly, championship experience shared between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa is unheard of in the history of college football.
Alabama is loaded at every position and that’s been the case since Nick Saban was named head coach in 2007. Every starter on Bama’s roster has a four or five-star younger player pushing them in practice and doing everything they can to compete for game time. 2016 and 2017 starter Jalen Hurts knew this as Tua Tagovailoa from Hawaii was a top-5 high school quarterback in the country gunning for his job.
In 2017, Jalen Hurts was sensational. He threw 17 touchdown passes to just one interception and ran for another eight touchdowns without a fumble. Alabama’s system is run-first, smash-mouth, don’t-ask-quarterbacks-to-do-too-much football.
Up until the College Football Playoff Championship Game, Tua Tagovailoa played in most of Alabama’s regular season games in garbage time, getting a few reps in as ‘Bama was steamrolling teams like Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Mercer and so on. In the Championship Game against Georgia, the Bulldogs were stifling Alabama’s running attack and for the first time Nick Saban and co. needed a quarterback capable of completing passes downfield. Tua Tagovailoa’s number was called, and the rest is for the history books:
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