There’s no more prized college football recruit than the No. 1 QB. When recruiting rankings started to develop around 2000, they frequently pegged mediocre college and pro players (with one big exception) as the best QBs in their classes.
In recent years, the rankings seem like they’ve done a better job at the top of QB classes. Here’s the football (and sometimes post-football) fate of every player to be rated as the No. 1 QB on the 247Sports Composite, which gathers industry prospect ratings.
2000: Brock Berlin, Florida
For two years, he sat in Gainesville behind Rex Grossman. He transferred to rival Miami and eventually led a comeback victory over his former Florida teammates. He appeared in one game apiece for the Rams in 2007 and 2008.
Now, Berlin lives back in his hometown of Shreveport and works, according to LinkedIn, as a medical salesman.
2001: Brodie Croyle, Alabama
Croyle was the first player to commit to Bama under Dennis Franchione, the Montgomery Advertiser wrote. His three years as a starter all came under Mike Shula.
He started in 2003 and struggled, then tore his ACL in his third game in 2004, after a hot start. He returned to throw for 2,499 yards and 14 touchdowns during Bama’s later-vacated 10-2 season in ‘05.
The Chiefs drafted him in 2006, and he spent some time with the Cardinals. Croyle is now a director of Big Oak Ranch, a Christian organization his father founded to help children in need of homes.
2002: Vince Young, Texas
Young’s one of five players, and the only QB, to have a perfect score on the 247Sports Composite. He lived up to the billing at Texas.
A first-round pick by the Titans in 2006, Young lasted six years in the NFL. He does a lot of promotional work today and is still a presence around Austin and on TV.
2003: Kyle Wright, Miami
The Californian’s best season at Miami came in 2005, when he threw for 2,403 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Wright spent some time with the Vikings and 49ers.
In 2013, Wright told the NCAA he received benefits from Nevin Shapiro, contributing to the NCAA sanctioning Canes. Wright now works in sales in San Francisco.
2004: Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma
Bomar’s class included Adrian Peterson, the best No. 1 overall recruit ever. Bomar redshirted in 2004 and was the starter by Week 2 of 2005. He threw for 2,018 yards and touchdowns that year.
OU dismissed Bomar in 2006, saying he’d gotten paid for work he didn’t do at a car dealership with close ties to the school:
The school said in a statement that the players violated NCAA rules by working at a private business and taking “payment over an extended period of time in excess of time actually worked.”
Bomar apparently filed for 40-hour work weeks at a Norman, Okla., auto dealership, making up to $18,000, when he only worked 5 hours a week, Schad reported.
He transferred to Sam Houston State, where he was a a two-time All-Southland Conference pick. The Giants made him a fifth-round pick, and he hung around the league for a few years. Now he’s a head high school football coach in Texas.
2005: Mark Sanchez, USC
Sanchez was only USC’s starter for one year, replacing John David Booty in 2008. He won the Rose Bowl, then left to be a top-five pick by the Jets in 2009. He won some playoff games in New York and also fumbled for a defensive TD when he ran into a teammate’s butt.
He now makes cute videos, probably among other things:
Congratulations to Tom Brady on tying @Mark_Sanchez’s record for road playoff victories! #USCtotheNFL pic.twitter.com/Wt2aTCSgWj— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) January 29, 2019
2006 Matthew Stafford, Georgia
The first true freshman QB to start at Georgia since Quincy Carter in 1998, Stafford went 27-7 in that role and got near the top of some of UGA’s QB records lists.
He went No. 1 overall to the Lions in 2009, and he immediately became the starter. Now he makes a ton of money, but the Lions usually lose.
2007: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
Clausen was a big deal. He committed to Notre Dame after pulling up to the College Football Hall of Fame in a limo, and one of his coaches called him “the LeBron James of high school football,” adding he had the skills of Dan Marino. He went 16-18 as a starter.
The Panthers drafted him in the second round in 2010. He got benched later for a guy named Cam Newton. He hasn’t been on a roster since 2015.
2008: Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
Pryor was arguably the most hyped QB ever from a Western Pennsylvania region that also produced Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly.
At OSU, he finished 31-4 as the starter, with Rose and Sugar Bowl wins in 2009 and ‘10. He left after the program’s tattoo/memorabilia scandal spilled into public view. Pryor had made between $20,000 and $40,000 selling autographed memorabilia, a friend told ESPN.
The Raiders took him in 2011 (as the lone pick in the supplemental draft) and used him sparingly. He’s moved around the league as a receiver since 2015.
2009: Matt Barkley, USC
One of the highest-rated of these No. 1 QB recruits, Barkley followed Sanchez, who followed Booty, who followed Matt Leinart.
He went 34-17 at USC, playing mostly under Lane Kiffin after Pete Carroll left for the NFL. Barkley left as the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer and the only player to throw for over 100 TDs. (Three QBs have since passed him in TDs, and two have in yardage.)
The Eagles took him in 2013’s fifth round. He’s started seven NFL games.
2010: Phillip Sims, Alabama
ESPN (and many evaluators) saw Sims as a classic, big QB with athleticism and good technique. But after redshirting, he couldn’t beat out AJ McCarron in 2011.
He transferred to Virginia then to DII Winston-Salem. As a pro, he spent time with the Cardinals, Seahawks and CFL. He’s now a high school head coach in Virginia.
2011: Jeff Driskel, Florida
Driskel’s dual-threat ability earned him serious comparisons to Tim Tebow.
“It’s nice to be compared, but I wouldn’t go that far and say I try to be like him or watch his film and try to be like him,” Driskel said, “but I guess we do play similar styles.”
He had an OK 2012, suffered an injury in 2013, and was benched in 2014. He transferred to Louisiana Tech for 2015.
The 49ers drafted him in 2016. He later moved to the Bengals, and he started five games in 2018, throwing for 1,003 yards and five touchdowns.
2012: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Winston went undefeated and won both the Heisman and national championship in 2013. He was the first pick in 2015, but he’s gone 21-35 as an NFL starter, and he struggled to permanently beat out Ryan Fitzpatrick in Tampa.
At Florida State, a student accused him of rape, later leading to an out-of-court settlement after Winston and the woman sued each other. He served an NFL suspension at the start of 2018 for allegedly groping an Uber driver.
2013: Max Browne, USC
In 2016, he was the Trojans’ starter for the first three games, before Sam Darnold replaced him and won the Rose Bowl. Browne transferred to Pitt and got injured in 2017. He now lives in Pittsburgh and is building a presence as a YouTube football analyst.
2014: Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
His freshman season, Allen eventually replaced Kenny Hill — who’d earned cult-hero status with an amazing Week 1 — as the starter. Allen threw for 1,322 yards and 16 touchdowns, and he stuck as the starter in 2015. In 2016, around the time A&M added Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight and Kyler Murray transferred to OU, Allen transferred to Houston. He appeared in four games at UH in 2007. The Panthers picked him up in 2018, and he started in a meaningless (standings-wise) game in Week 17 against the Saints.
2015: Josh Rosen, UCLA
Rosen set UCLA records despite going 17-20 under Jim Mora. A mixture of bad running games, bad protection, bad defenses, and injuries limited him.
The Cardinals drafted him 10th overall in 2018, and he struggled as a rookie, along with the rest of his teammates. Unless the Cardinals take a QB first overall in 2019, he’ll get to move forward with the college-minded Kliff Kingsbury helping him.
2016: Shea Patterson, Ole Miss
At the time, Patterson was the highest-rated QB recruit since Barkley in 2009. When Chad Kelly got hurt late in 2016, Hugh Freeze burned Patterson’s redshirt despite the Rebels being bowl-banned, and he threw for six TDs and 880 yards in three games. In 2017, he threw for 17 TDs and 2,259 yards before tearing his right PCL in October.
After the NCAA sanctioned Ole Miss, he transferred to Michigan and won an appeal for immediate eligibility. He had a strong 2018 and will try to get Michigan over its Ohio State hump in 2019.
2017: Davis Mills, Stanford
Mills took a redshirt in 2017 and sat behind K.J. Costello in 2018. He might still be great.
2018: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
He became the second true freshman to quarterback his team to a national title, joining Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985. The sky’s the limit, pretty much.
Being the top QB recruit is no guarantee of success, but the rankings do seem to be getting more of them right these days.
There is a certain minimum baseline level of physical talent needed to be ranked as the top QB in the nation. History shows that if a prospect of this caliber stays out of trouble (either NCAA or otherwise), you’ll probably at least see him around the NFL for a few years.