Typically, only about 25 quarterbacks are rated four- or five-stars per year, so demand far outpaces supply. And teams usually do not move on from their No. 1 targets to accept a commitment from another until it is clear they are out of the running. Lesser-rated recruits know this.
Every year, I track the dominos as they fall. QB1 picks school A, so School B moves on to QB2 as School C moves on to QB3. But then QB1 decommits from School A, and the cycle is thrown into chaos.
It's like securing a date for prom. Schools must properly assess a prospect's interest, and prospects must not wait too long for offers that never come.
So let's look at 2017's blue-chip QB recruits and how things have played out.
Sometimes, QBs commit so early that the recruiting industry has not caught up to them. Most of the time, schools are not going to accept verbal commitments four years in advance unless they are very confident the player will be a special talent. They are usually right, but sometimes young stars do not continue to develop.
When Las Vegas Bishop Gorman's Tate Martell committed to Washington in 2012, Huskies fans were excited, but knew he would not sign with UW for another five calendar years. As it turns out, Martell has not grown much (he's 5'11), but is still very talented. (At this point, there were 22 more eventual 2016 blue-chip QBs, based on the current 247Sports Composite, still yet to commit.)
Arizona landed Braxton Burmeister, of La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day in November 2014. At that time, he had few other offers. (20)
Martell's commitment to Washington lasted almost three years, but he decommitted in January of 2015. (21)
Summer 2015: The SEC and Big 12 make their moves
Early summer is camp season for schools, a time for coaches to work with prospects hands-on and drill them physically and mentally. This is important for all positions but especially for quarterback.
Georgia quarterback Bailey Hockman was one of the most accomplished QBs in the Southeast when he committed to the Bulldogs in June over offers from Alabama, Florida State and Tennessee, among others. (20)
Also in June, three Big 12 teams grabbed commitments. Baylor secured a verbal from Kellen Mond, then of San Antonio. TCU took Shawn Robinson of Denton (Texas). At the time, Robinson was considered the best QB in the state, thanks to a strong sophomore season. And Oklahoma landed Chris Robinson, of Horn (Mesquite, Texas). (17)
In July, Florida accepted a commitment from Jake Allen of Ft. Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas. Allen had shown some promise in the camp circuit, had a good build, and quarterbacked the most talented high school in the country outside of IMG, which in theory would help UF pull more players from the powerhouse. At the time, the Gators did not have a QB committed for the class of 2016, though they would go on to sign two. (16)
Cincinnati powerhouse St. Xavier QB Sean Clifford committed to Penn State, and Auburn landed a major commitment from Lowell Narcisse, one of the nation's top dual-threats, from St. James (La.). (14)
(Kentucky picked up a QB from Jacksonville, Mac Jones, who I really like, though he's not a blue-chip yet. I thought UK's system was a good fit, since he makes quick decisions and is accurate, but I wondered what would happen if he continued to progress and the big schools came calling. More on him later.)
Not to be outdone, Tennessee landed Hunter Johnson, of Brownsburg (IN), then the No. 1 pro-style passer in the country. Johnson is the prototypical QB who developed faster than anyone else. He was 6'2, 200 after his sophomore season with advanced mechanics. During several camps, Johnson outshined some highly rated players a grade older than him. (11)
By the end of summer, more than a third of the SEC held commitments from quarterbacks.
Texas A&M commit Martell is currently the country's No. 1 2017 dual threat. Student Sports photo
Fall 2015: Relatively quiet
Miami kicked off the fall by getting a verbal from N'Kosi Perry, a toolsy but raw project from Ocala (Fla.). (10)
In early October, Alabama scored a major victory when Houston County (Ga.)'s Jake Fromm gave a verbal to the Crimson Tide. Fromm is also a former Little League World Series star. At this point, Alabama had one of the top quarterbacks from Georgia committed and Auburn held a commitment from the top QB in Louisiana. (9)
Oregon made its move, adding Ryan Kelley of Arizona. Kelley is a better thrower than some Oregon recruits in recent years. (8)
Winter 2015-16: It looked the process would proceed in an orderly fashion. Think again.
On December 14, Clemson flipped Hunter Johnson from Tennessee, a move few saw coming. That put Tennessee's recruiting on its head. It was one school that claims to be "Wide Receiver U" beating another that stakes the same claim.
On the same day, Georgia lost the commitment of Hockman, who elected to open up his recruitment and examine his options after a junior season that didn't show quite the promise as his sophomore campaign. (9)
Mississippi State landed Keytaon Thompson of New Orleans. Many thought LSU might turn up the heat on Thompson after losing Narcisse, but given Auburn's disappointing season, LSU was electing to to pursue the higher-rated QB. Folks who follow Louisiana recruiting believe LSU could still swoop in and flip Thompson if it did so in a reasonable time frame. (8)
Clemson was up yet again, securing the commitment of Chase Brice, of Loganville (Ga.) Grayson. Brice is considered a clear No. 2 to Johnson's No. 1. Clemson now has the only pair of blue-chip QB prospects in the country. (7)
Michigan also made its move in February, zeroeing in on Denver QB Dylan McCaffrey, the son of Ed and brother of Christian. McCaffrey is considered one of the best pro-style quarterbacks in the nation and very much in the Harbaugh mold, though he can move more than the statues often tagged with the "pro-style" label. (8)
Michigan commit McCaffrey is currently 2017's highest-rated QB.
Spring 2016: Things fall into place
New Georgia coach Kirby Smart got his man in early March, flipping Fromm from Smart's former employer, Alabama. Thanks to a strong junior season (4,000 yards and a 36-to-6 TD/INT ratio), Fromm is now regarded as the top quarterback in Georgia. Alabama was left without a clear favorite target, though the Tide seem likely to get a good one based on their recruiting track record.
Arizona lost Burmeister, who had been committed since 2014. Burmeister is believed to be giving Washington a hard look. (9)
Greater Atlanta Christian's Davis Mills, another Peach State four-star, made the call to Stanford. This was an expected move, but still an important one. Programs throughout the Southeast, including Alabama and Florida, were pursuing Mills. (8)
Notre Dame followed by picking up elite athlete Avery Davis of Cedar Hill (Texas). The Irish had offered Hunter Johnson, but once the in-state prospect went elsewhere, moved to their secondary target . (7)
Perry's decommitment from Miami lasted only about a month, and by mid-March he was back in the fold. Interestingly, just two days later, Miami accepted a commitment from pro-style QB Cade Weldon of Tampa. Weldon is a Florida State legacy (Casey Weldon) with a big arm, but missed his junior season due to a knee injury. Some FSU fans fretted that the Seminoles had erred in not offering Weldon while chasing higher-profile targets. If he has a strong senior year, he could climb the rankings. (6)
Nebraska scored a big victory in landing Tristan Gebbia, a Calabassas (Calif.) four-star who claimed offers from Alabama, Ole Miss and Washington, among others. The draw of playing in Mike Riley's pro-style offense was a factor when combined with Nebraska's lack of pro-style passers on the roster. (5)
What's next? (April 12)
Speaking of offers, Alabama is still without a quarterback but did extend an offer to Kentucky commit Jones. Jones told me in February that he loves Kentucky but will take visits to make sure he is making the right choice. Can Alabama flip the player I feel is the best QB in Florida from the Wildcats? Jones is a top target for the Tide, but so are Narcisse and Honolulu's Tua Tagovailoa, of Marcus Mariota's alma mater, Saint Louis School.
All three uncommitted blue chip QBs are classified as dual-threats, so schools looking for the run threat are a bit better positioned than teams who want the prototypical pro-style passer. That's reflective of the overall rankings, with 2017's class having more quality depth among runners than pure throwers.
- Tagovailoa is the top remaining target for many teams. The question is less of his talent than of his willingness to leave Hawaii and play for a school east of the Rockies. Playing for a school near, say, Atlanta is a minimum 12 hours of travel time each way when the inevitable freshman homesickness strikes. He did make trips to Alabama and Ole Miss in early April. That he paid his own way to visit early instead of waiting and making official visits paid by the schools is perhaps affirmation that he is serious about considering schools across the country. His top eight in March included the Tide and Rebels, along with Hawaii, Arizona, USC, UCLA, Texas A&M and Washington.
- Narcisse is shaping up to be a battle between Alabama, Auburn and LSU, and you can bet he'll be closely watching how both Tigers use their quarterbacks this season. Narcisse told me a school's ability to prepare him for the NFL is one of his most important factors.
- It will be interesting to see how LSU's pursuit of Narcisse shapes up and if it elects to put the press on Mississippi State commitment Thompson. Accurately assessing one's position with a recruit is an important aspect of recruiting. I'm not suggesting the Tigers should drop out of the Narcisseesweepstakes, but another Dak Prescott-type situation would not be good. (Prescott was from Louisiana, about two hours from Baton Rouge, and would go on to become MSU's best QB ever. LSU offered him just weeks before he enrolled at State.)
- There's also speculation that Clemson will lose Brice, who is lesser-rated than fellow commitment Johnson. Brice insisted to me recently he is solid to Clemson, and the Tigers hired his high school head coach in March to be a defensive quality control coach.
If LSU has a strong season there is every reason to believe Narcisse will stick. But can Alabama hold the commitment of a Hawaiian? Immediately there where whispers of skepticism. That is a long way from home.
California QB Jack Sears was also elevated to a four-star rating in early May (2).
On May 4, the QB recruiting world was set on its head as Martell decommitted from A&M (3), which set off a firestorm after a four-star receiver decommitted in the wake of an A&M assistant bashing recruits for their lack of loyalty on twitter following the Martell decommitment. Really. Oregon QB commitment Ryan Kelley, of Arizona decommitted on May 4 as well (4) and then committed to Arizona State (3).
What's next? (May 9)
Traditional recruiting powers still looking for a quarterback include USC, Auburn, UCLA, Texas A&M, Oregon and Tennessee. Ohio State would also like to take two if possible.
But as of May 9, only three of 24 QBs rated four- or five-stars are uncommitted (Burmeister, Martell and Sears). And while recruiting rankings are far from complete in May and more four- and five-stars will likely emerge, the pickings are getting slim.
- Most think USC and Ohio State stand the best chance to land Martell.
- On the West Coast, Burmeister is likely to be highly coveted not only by Washington and Arizona, but by the L.A. schools.
- Early prognosticators think UCLA is the smart bet for Sears, but Tennessee, USC and A&M are getting in as well.
- Auburn has offered four-star athlete Tray Bishop of Dawson (Ga.) a chance to play QB for them and is actively trying to flip Baylor commit Kellen Mond. Ohio State is also trying to flip Mond.
- Washington and Oregon are both in on three-star QB Chase Garbers, of Newport Beach (Calif.).
- I am high on two Texas QBs: Pearland's Connor Blumrick and Colleyville Heritage's Cam Roane. Blumrick's physical tools are much better, but Roane is accurate and has a quick release. Blumrick holds an Ole Miss offer, and Roane does not have any major offers as of yet. As schools become less optimistic about flipping top prospects, they may turn to this pair.
Burmeister's decommitment from Arizona did not last long, and on May 13 he was back in the fold with the Wildcats (2).
On May 20, Texas A&M indeed landed Blumriick after offering him on on May 17. Blumrick is very tall and has good potential. It would not surprise me to see him bumped up to a four-star ranking. As of May 24, Blumrick is ranked the No. 44 pro-style QB prospect, and I highly doubt there are 43 better pro-style prospects.
Ole Miss lost Blumrick, and then moved on to offer the lesser-rated of LSU's two QB commitments, Myles Brennan of Bay Saint Louis (Miss.). Brennan's coach is the one who complained about Ole Miss not explaining its lack of offer early in the process. But Ole Miss smoothed that over and now Brennan must decide if he wants to be the No. 2 QB in LSU's class or the No. 1 in Ole Miss'. It's not uncommon for a lesser-rated QB to stick in a class with a superstar QB also in the fold (see Sean Maguire sticking with his commitment after Florida State landed Jameis Winston), and Brennan has to know that he's probably not in line for early playing time at LSU or Ole Miss because the Rebels landed No. 1 QB Shea Patterson in the 2016 class.
June 8 Intel
- Mond became the latest player to decommit from Baylor's 2017 class (3). He announced a new top three of Auburn, Ohio State and Texas A&M. Lots of people believe Mond will commit to Auburn.
- Martell announced a top five of Ohio State, Cal, USC, Colorado and UCLA. Ohio State and Cal are seen as frontrunners.
- Alabama landed its second 2017 QB commit, flipping Jones from Kentucky. Then Lane Kiffin executed an expert troll job on Kentucky's coach.
- Roane committed to San Diego State on May 25. He is a player to watch as the season plays out who may land better offers.