Quarterback is the most important position in football. Most college programs want to carry four on scholarship, which means most schools will sign a QB every year.
Typically, only about 20 are rated four- or five-stars, so demand for elite QBs 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 for their first choice. Lesser-rated recruits know this.
Given that teams rarely rotate quarterbacks, a top QB will often want to reserve his spot with the school of his choice. QB is also the noted position of leadership, so a committed QB often become a class’ lead recruiter.
Every year, we track the dominoes 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.
2019, though, seems a little different. The 2018 class was loaded with elite quarterbacks. Comparatively, the 2019 class looked a little light. And that was before JT Daniels, the No. 1 overall 2019 player, decided to skip his senior season and enroll at USC a year early. Now, the 2019 QB class is really lacking elites.
And that means teams who really need QBs are scrambling, while those who might not have such a need are considering waiting for 2020.
Summer ‘17: Big 12 powers land standout dual-threats
- Oklahoma adds Spencer Rattler of Phoenix, who commits over offers from Miami, Alabama, the Arizona schools, Texas A&M, Texas, and Notre Dame.
- Texas has added Roschon Johnson of Port Neches (Texas). Johnson has offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Oklahoma, and Florida.
- Washington adds Dylan Morris of Graham (Washington), and Wake Forest adds Brendon Clark of Midlothian (Virginia)
With Daniels off to USC a year early, and Rattler and Johnson off the board, talent West of the Mississippi is drying up quickly.
2017 football season: Little movement
- Michigan State adds Dwan Mathis of Belleville (Michigan), while Rutgers picks up Zamar Wise of Newark (New Jersey).
- Wisconsin grabs Graham Mertz of Mission (Kansas). A number of major programs like him, but want to see throw in person. Expect the Badgers to have a battle on their hands. A number of college coaches have told me they love Mertz.
- Penn State adds Ta’Quan Roberson, of Wayne (NJ), who chooses the Nittany Lions over Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
- Louisville has picked up Jaden Johnson of Memphis.
At this point, the vast majority of SEC and ACC schools are without 2019 quarterbacks.
Winter ‘17-18: New coaches bring new quarterbacks
After coaching change season and the Early Signing Period, a number of new QB commitments are expected, since they often visit for junior days in December, January, and February.
- Cale Millen of Snoqualmie (Wash.) kicks things off by committing to Northwestern, while Cole Kramer of Eden Prairie (Minnesota) pledges to Minnesota. Ty Evans of Monument (Colorado) stays in-state and verbals to Colorado. None had many major offers, so this doesn’t look to shake up the QB recruiting scene much.
- In a move that everyone saw coming, Bo Nix of Pinson (Alabama) commits to Auburn. Nix is the son of Patrick Nix, who played for Auburn from 1992-95. He is one of the better QBs in the class.
- At the end of February, Iowa State picks up Easton Dean of Altamonte (Kan.), and Lance LeGendre of New Orleans pledges to Kansas. Legendre is one to watch, as major programs are intrigued by his film.
Only 15 of the 65 Power 5 programs have verbal commitments from quarterbacks at this point. This is a lot fewer than the 27 committed at the end of February in 2017.
Spring 2018: the dominoes fall
- Spring starts with a bang, as Michigan flips Reno (Nevada) QB Cade McNamra from Notre Dame. He also claims offers from Georgia, and USC. Those schools are still without QBs, though it’s not clear all will take one.
- Florida takes a commitment from Jalon Jones of Baltimore, a 6’4 athlete who posted a Nike Rating of 104, which is elite for any position, much less a QB. Dan Mullen recruited him heavily while at Mississippi State.
- Florida State takes Sam Howell of Monroe (North Carolina) over Taisun Phommachanh (9) of Bridgeport (Connecticut). Both were high on FSU’s board, and the Seminoles would have liked to sign the duo, but weren’t going to take Phommachanh before Howell made his decision. Phommachanh commits to Clemson the next week. Howell was a major target for Tennessee and North Carolina, who are still searching.
- Alabama lands Paul Tyson of Trussville (Ala.), the great grandson of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant. He is considered a major prospect, but doesn’t set off any dominoes, because nobody expected him to go anywhere else.
- The Mississippi schools get into the action as Garrett Shrader of Charlotte commits to Mississippi State, and Grant Tisdale of Allen (Texas) commits to Ole Miss. Shrader is an intriguing target whom schools want to see throw over the summer, as the competition in his high school games is suspect.
- Ryan Hilinski of Orange (California) commits to South Carolina. Hilinski was a target of Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M to varying levels.
- Max Duggan, of Council Bluffs (Iowa) has committed to TCU. Steve Lubischer, of Red Bank (N.J.) has committed to Boston College.
- And Taulia Tagovailoa of Alabaster (Ala.) (formerly Hawaii) has committed to the Crimson Tide to play with his brother, Tua. Tagovailoa is not seen as the same level of prospect as Tua was, but with his level of competitiveness, I’d still bet on him competing for the Tide job. This doesn’t really trigger any dominoes, since no other programs were thought to be in the picture with him.
- In late April, Millen decommitted from Northwestern. He later commtted to Oregon in early May.
- In early May, Boise State lands Hank Bachmeier, who is rated as the No. 8 QB in the nation, but didn’t have the offer list to match that early lofty rating.
- And in mid-May, BYU picks up Jacob Conover of Chandler (AZ). Conover plans to take his LDS Mission before enrolling in the spring of 2021.
Summer ‘18: Camp season
While the spring is apparel showcase season (Adidas, Nike, Under Armour), the summer is when college camps take place. They’re an excellent opportunity for prospects to work hands-on with potential future coaches.
- In June, Grant Gunnell of Houston (Texas) committed to Arizona. Gunnell is a tall, talented prospect who was once committed to Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin when Sumlin was the head coach of Texas A&M. There was chatter that Ohio State looked goo for Gunnell, but Buckeye sources indicate other prospects were higher on the board.
- And shortly thereafter, Arizona State picks up Joey Yellen, a fast-rising prospect from Mission Viejo (Calif.)
- And Wake Forest lost QB Brendon Clark, who decommitted after receiving a Notre Dame offer.
- In a move that surprised some, Mertz affirmed his commitment to Wisconsin and completely shut down his recruitment. Notre Dame and Ohio State must now look elsewhere, as he was a prime flip target.
- And in mid-June, Zach Calzada of Lanier (Ga.) committed to Texas A&M. I called Calzada the top sleeper QB commit in the nation when I saw him in April.
- And Davis Beville of Greenville (SC) committed to Pitt. He has some serious tools.
There are more programs in need of quarterbacks than there are good quarterbacks. While more will emerge over the summer and in the fall, here are some of the top QBs left, and where they might be going.
- Jayden Daniels of San Bernadino (Calif.) seems to be trending to the UCLA Bruins. Daniels told me in April that distance would be a factor.
- If Michael Johnson Jr. of Eugene (Oregon) was going to go to Oregon where his dad coaches, I’d think it would already be done, so he could start recruiting publicly for the Ducks. My hunch is that he ends up with Mark Richt’s Hurricanes, but Penn State should also be watched.
- Then there’s David Baldwin, the QB at IMG Academy in Bradenton (Florida), by way of California. A key factor will be whether he wants to be the only QB in a class. And will he want to head back West for college?
- Also keep an eye on Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett’s Justin Fomby, who is gaining interest from SEC programs including Missouri.
- Brian Maurer of Ocala (Fla.) isn’t rated highly, but has the size, tools, and very much looked the part at the Elite 11 Finals in June. West Virginia has recruited Maurer well, but he told me he is willing to wait a bit on Ohio State and Florida. Tennessee has also recently picked up its recruitment of Maurer.
- Peter Parrish of Phenix City (Ala.) is an elite level athlete who has made big strides as a thrower. He recently visited Florida State’s camp and made an impression. Pitt has also offered.
- I’m also watching the flips. Kansas’ LeGendre and South Carolina’s Hilinski are all prospects I’ll be keeping an eye on. Florida State is involved with LeGendre, Ohio State is interested in Hilinski.
I’ll update this frequently.
As of yet, there aren’t that many dominoes which have impacted other schools, but that could certainly change. Other QBs will also likely see their ratings rise during the summer camp season.
And there are some programs, like Georgia, who might elect to sit out the 2019 QB recruiting cycle and instead pursue elect for a preferred walk-on.