College Football Recruiting: Top 20 Quarterbacks
Top 20 Quarterbacks
A quarterback is the leader of the football team.
He is the centerpiece. The commander. The omnipotent guide to the success a team can gain.
Just look at the NFL. Can one really put a value to Peyton and Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers? Of course not. Would the Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints or Green Bay Packers have ever won their recent Super Bowls without those men leading their teams?
An interesting question. But there is a distinct reason that quarterbacks have gone number one in the NFL Draft 12 out of the last 15 years, and have won 10 out of the last 12 Heisman Trophies.
The same importance of the position replicates in all other levels of football as well. College, high school and even Pop Warner football put the same standard of importance on the position. Well, I guess you could make the case against Pop Warner, but you get the point.
All of the aforementioned quarterbacks went through the same process that the prospects in College Football Recruiting 2013 are going through now. It’s fact that some of the quarterbacks of this class will make their way to ‘The League’. There is a tremendous chance that one or even two of the quarterbacks in this class will be a Heisman Trophy winner, or at minimum be candidates.
So it's needless to say that college coaches will go to great lengths to secure their quarterback of the future. The players in this class are the future. So who is the best of the best? Here it is…
#20- Bucky Hodges
Bucky Hodges is the latest big time, big arm from Virginia’s famed ‘757’. Hodges, a 6’5’’, 225 pound pocket passer from Salem High School in Virginia Beach (VA), has reminded many of one the more recent quarterbacks from this area who’s found great success throwing the football, E.J. Manuel, now the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.
Unlike Manuel, however, Hodges will be staying in-state for his collegiate career. Hodges has been a long time Virginia Tech Hokies commit, and will likely honor his pledge to coach Frank Beamer and co.
Despite being labeled a pocket passer, Hodges has some wheels to compliment that big arm. Hodges could find himself in position to start as soon as the 2014 season, when incumbent Logan Thomas will have graduated.
#19- Cody Thomas
Cody Thomas is another big time pocket passer who also has some legs to make plays outside of the pocket. Thomas, a 6’5’’, 220 pounder from Heritage High School in Colleyville (TX), had a huge senior season, throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 46 TD’s while only throwing 6 interceptions.<./p>
Thomas has been a long time Oklahoma commit, picking the Sooners over the likes of USC, Notre Dame and Alabama. With Landry Jones off the NFL, the Sooners will be in the market for a new starting quarterback as early as 2013, though Thomas might have a hard time beating out junior Blake Bell.
#18- Aaron Bailey
Aaron Bailey is a very impressive dual threat quarterback who’s also made waves in the classroom (boasting an impressive 3.5 GPA). The 6’2”, 215 pounder is easily the most talented signal caller from the Chicago area for the 2013 class, which is saying something considering the talent that flows from the Windy City.
Bailey has been committed to his home-state University of Illinois since early spring, and few are expecting him to change his mind. Many Illini fans are hoping he matches the success of the last big time QB to come out of Chicago and star for UI, Isaiah ‘Juice’ Williams, who finished second in school history for TD passes. Considering he might already be faster than Williams, he should be very exciting to watch in the future./p>
#17- Kenny Hill
Kenny Hill is an athletic dual threat quarterback from the infamous Carroll Senior High School in Southlake (TX), one of the top high school football programs in the country. Hill, who’s slightly undersized at 6’1”, 205 pounds, has been committed to his home-state Texas A&M Aggies, joining another talented signal caller for the 2013 class (more on the other guy soon).
Hill won’t be in contention for a starting role his first fall in College Station due to the presence of Heisman Trophy winning Johnny Manziel, but could battle for the spot as early as 2014 (if Manziel leaves early for the NFL). Hill is choosing the Aggies over Kansas State, Baylor and Ole Miss.
#16- Anu Solomon
Anu Solomon also hails from one of the most illustrious high school football programs in the country (Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas). The 6’1” 200 pound dual threat signal caller hopes to become the next huge success under Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez, to whom he’s been committed to since May. Solomon may be the most talented high school quarterback Rodriguez has recruited since Pat White, who became a second round draft pick under the formers tutelage. Solomon doesn’t have elite size (6’1”, 205 pounds), but has very good speed and quickness, and is known as a good leader. He also has offers from Arizona State and UCLA.
#15- Asiantii Woulard
Asiantii Woulard, 6’3’’ 205lbs, is one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in this class. Needless to say, the standout signal caller from Winter Park High School in Winter Park, Florida, is an incredibly athletic football player. He can make plays all over the field, both passing, rushing and, if called upon, receiving.
Woulard has a long way to go in terms of passing development. Yes, he’s excellent running the ball, but he’s just OK passing it. But the physical skills are there to develop. It’s very important that he goes to a team that has experience developing solid passers out of great athletes. That’s certainly one of the reasons that Woulard is committed to the South Florida Bulls.
The Bulls have been using quarterbacks with similar skill sets to Woulard for years now. The location of the school doesn’t hurt, either. At the very worst, the Bulls will be getting a guy who can contribute on the field for them in some way or another, even if it’s not at quarterback.
#14- Jared Goff
Jared Goff, 6’4’’ 190lbs, is an excellent pro style quarterback from Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, California. Goff’s specialty is the deep ball. Not only does he have a very strong arm, but has impressive accuracy while going long. Goff is also surprisingly nimble in the pocket, using keen awareness to evade pass rushers, and eventually getting the ball off.
Goff is a heady quarterback, making him a good fit for the passing scheme of the California Golden Bears, to which he’s been committed since March. It will be interesting to see if Goff stays committed to Cal if they axe Head Coach Jeff Tedford. The Bears have been struggling this year, and haven’t played up to their standard in a few years now.
There’s a very good chance the Bears will be looking for a new coach at the end of the season, and who they hire will have a big impact on their ability to retain Goff. If they keep Tedford, look for Goff to stay put.
#13- Troy Williams
Troy Williams is another excellent dual-threat quarterback. At 6’0’’ 175lbs, he will certainly need to bulk up some to be able to withstand the pounding of the position, but that shouldn’t be a problem for a division 1 strength and conditioning coach.
Williams reminds me a lot of Troy Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State. This is due to the fact that while he’s excellent running the ball, he prefers to stand back in the pocket and deliver. It’s very rare and very hard to find a dual-threat quarterback that doesn’t need to be taught to pass first, run second.
Williams is committed to the Washington Huskies and Head Coach Steve Sarkisian. This will be a good fit for both. ‘The Sark’ has an excellent history of developing quarterbacks, and also developing dual-threats. Look at the progress Jake Locker made under Sarkisian’s tutelage. I expect big things from the elite signal caller from Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California.
#12- Jeremy Johnson
Jeremy Johnson is a big quarterback at 6’6’’ and 215lbs. Height is always a valuable asset to a quarterback, as it better enables him to read a defense over the enormous offensive linemen in front of him. His frame is very reminiscent of former Auburn Tiger great Cam Newton. But make no mistake, they are vastly different quarterbacks.
Johnson has a good, not great arm, and displays excellent on-field awareness. The pro style quarterback from Carver High School in Montgomery, Alabama, has been committed to the Auburn Tigers since May.
Just like the case with Goff at Cal, it will be interesting to see if Johnson remains committed to the Tigers if Head Coach Gene Chizik is fired. There is almost no doubt that Chizik will be gone after this season, only two years removed from a National Championship. If Johnson changes his mind about Auburn, teams will be clamoring for his services.
#11- Kohl Stewart
Kohl Stewart, the pro-style quarterback from St. Pius X in Houston, Texas has a heck of an arm. No doubt he’ll need to put on some weight to be physically ready for combat. Not only does he have excellent strength, but has remarkable accuracy on the middle to deep balls. For a pocket passer, he has very good feet. He can definitely make plays with his feet if need be.
Stewart committed to the Texas A&M Aggies in late July, and he’ll be an excellent fit in Kevin Sumlin’s spread offense. What’s really going to be interesting is if he stays committed to the Aggies. Texas A&M has a pretty good quarterback, Johnny Manziel, already in place, and he’s been playing wonderfully. Manziel is also only a freshman, meaning if Stewart does go there, he could be sitting for a little while. As the case with Jeremy Johnson, if there’s a de-commitment, look for numerous teams to converge on this talented gunslinger.
#10- Ryan Buchanan
Ryan Buchanan, from Jackson Prep in Jackson, Mississippi, is easily the best quarterback in the state, and one of the best nationally. For a pro-style quarterback, he has a remarkable ability to tuck his head and run, showing excellent on field awareness. At 6’3’’ 210lbs, he has a little bit of power in his running ability. On more than a few occasions for Jackson Prep he was used on the goal line in ways that Florida used Tim Tebow.
Buchanan has an incredible arm, is impressively accurate. He also carries a reputation as an excellent leader, certainly a trait one wants in a quarterback. His skill set should mesh very well with the offense that Hugh Freeze is running at Ole Miss, where Buchanan has been committed since early June. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Buchanan push current starter Bo Wallace in summer camp next year, although I still think Wallace would win out just because of his familiarity of the offense.
#9- Tyrone Swoopes
Tyrone Swoopes is regarded by most as the best dual-threat quarterback in the country. He’s also been committed to the Texas Longhorns since February. He looks and plays in ways that remind you of former Longhorn great Vince Young. But like most dual-threats, he has a long, long way to go with his passing mechanics.
Although he has very good accuracy on short to medium throws, he doesn’t carry a whole lot of arm strength. He also has a very awkward ¾ delivery. There’s no question that Swoopes is a fantastic runner and superb athlete, he’ll just have to get his mechanics down before he contributes under center.
Even if Swoopes can’t fully develop into a quarterback, he’s such a good athlete and has such a good frame (6’5’’ 230lbs) that there’s certainly a place on the field for such an elite playmaker. But don’t discount him yet as a signal caller. The Longhorns found an appropriate offense to run with Young, and they can do the same with Swoopes.
#8- Cooper Bateman
Cooper Bateman is the future of the Alabama Crimson Tide, to which he’s been committed since May. He reminds me a lot of A.J. McCarron coming out of high school. The signal caller from Cottonwood Senior High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a fantastic game manager. But also realize that he can carry a team with his arm as well. Heck, he even has the same build as McCarron had at 6’3’’ 190lbs. He has very good mechanics, and displays very active feet in the pocket.
Like McCarron, Bateman is a very heady quarterback, who can read defenses incredibly well. He will be an excellent fit with the Tide, and he has the opportunity to go to Tuscaloosa and learn behind McCarron. He won’t be asked to step in immediately and lead the number one team in the country (because Alabama certainly will start the year number one, as usual).
#7- Malik Zaire
Malik Zaire is easily the most polished dual-threat quarterback in the country. Zaire, at 6’0’’ 200lbs, is equally adept at passing as well as running, which is incredibly rare. He has such good touch on his passes, especially on short to intermediate routes, and has good enough velocity. Zaire has performed remarkably well on the camp circuit, especially at the Elite 11 competitions.
Zaire has been committed to Notre Dame since March, and he is an absolute coup for the Irish. Zaire, from Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, hails from Ohio State’s backyard, and would be a perfect fit in Urban Meyer’s scheme there.
Zaire will be an excellent fit in Brian Kelly’s spread as well. It will be interesting to see the battle between current starter Everett Golson, former mega-recruit Gunner Kiel and Zaire next fall. Zaire and Golson are incredibly similar quarterbacks, but Zaire is more polished than Golson was coming out of high school.
#6- Ryan Burns
Ryan Burns, from Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia, is a big guy at 6’5’’ 220lbs, and is very strongly built. Burns has a good arm, but is known more for his excellent reads. One thing he’ll have to work on is setting his feet before the pass. That will help his velocity. Quarterbacks need to keep their feet moving at all times before the throw, then right when they’re going to pass they have to set them, using that as the foundation for the strength in their throw.
Burns has been committed to Stanford since last March, where he’s an excellent fit in the pro-style offense the Cardinal run. Stanford Head Coach David Shaw has himself a good one in Burns, certainly their future. Burns certainly isn’t as polished as former Cardinal great Andrew Luck, but then again, how many guys are? Burns has a bright future in Palo Alto, California.
#5- Kevin Olsen
Kevin Olsen comes from a football family. His brother Greg is the tight end for the Carolina Panthers, and his father is the Head Coach at the elite Wayne Hills High School in Wayne, New Jersey. Olsen has progressed remarkably well in the last few years leading Wayne Hills. Before, when Olsen was a sophomore, he just oozed potential. Now, he’s starting to scratch the surface of all that potential.
There’s not a single throw that Olsen can’t make. He has excellent arm strength, accuracy, vision, poise and feet. Simply put, he’s just an excellent quarterback with a heck of a future.
Olsen is headed to the Miami Hurricanes, the same school where his brother Greg starred at tight end. ‘Canes Head Coach Al Golden runs a pro-style offense, which suits Olsen perfectly well. And with the talent that is perennially available in Coral Gables, Olsen should flourish.
#4- Christian Hackenberg
What sets Christian Hackenberg apart from other quarterbacks, in my eyes, is his release. He arguably has the quickest release of any quarterback in this class. It’s rare to find a prep quarterback with such a quick twitch arm. With that release, he can get his throws off just a hair faster than other gunslingers. At 6’4’’ 215lbs, Hackenberg certainly has the size you look for as well.
Hackenberg, from Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Virginia, has been committed to the Penn State Nittany Lions since late March. This has been a story line to follow ever since the Lions sanctions came down.
Many people think Hackenberg will de-commit, to play for a school that has a chance at playing for championships. But Hackenberg has held steadfast in his decision. Many have speculated that his father would influence his sons mind about Happy Valley. And who knows? We still have a long way to go until National Signing Day. But out of the top 15 quarterbacks on this list, if there’s one with the most potential to de-commit, you’d have to say Hackenberg.
#3- Hayden Rettig
I was blown away from the film I watched on Hayden Rettig. I knew he was good, but I had no idea that he was so close to the top two guys on this list. The 6’4’’ 210lb Rettig is an elite prospect under center, no doubt about it. There isn’t a throw he can’t make, and has remarkable velocity on his deep balls. Other than the top guy on this list, he has the strongest arm in that nation.
Rettig, from Southern Cal’s backyard at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California, is committed to the LSU Tigers. He gave his verbal last May, and there hasn’t been any wavering. He can sit for a year behind current starter Zach Mettenberger for a year while learning the offense, then step in immediately and excel. He’s the most talented quarterback prospect they’ll have had since Ryan Perrilloux.
#2- Max Browne
I know, I know. Everyone and their mother has Max Browne as the number one quarterback in the country. Well, it’s not like I’m slapping him in the face by ranking him second. He’s still a truly elite signal caller. At 6’5’’ 215lbs, and hailing from national powerhouse Skyline High School in Sammamish, Washington, it’s easy to fall in love with Browne as a prospect. He has excellent accuracy, touch, vision, poise, feet, leadership and awareness.
It’s his arm strength that notches him back to two for me. He merely has good, not great arm strength. He also has an incredibly slow delivery. That will have to change. A defense will be able to read where he’s throwing it in half the time it takes for him to actually get rid of the ball.
Browne has been committed to the Southern Cal Trojans since last March. He’s a classic pro-style Trojan gunslinger in the mold of Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. There’s no doubt that he’ll be a successful quarterback in college, and more than likely, the pros.
#1- Shane Morris
Shane Morris is my guy. Numero uno. The top dog. Morris, hands down, has the best arm of any quarterback in the country. At 6’3’’ 185lbs, he’ll have to gain some more weight, but imagine how much stronger his arm will be when he’s 215lbs. He can make every throw, long or short, inside or outside with as much velocity as we’ve seen in some time. He’s incredibly accurate on all of his passes, and can pick apart a route tree.
What I absolutely love about Morris is his fire. He’s as competitive as any prospect in the country. This is evident in all of the camps he’s been competing in over the last few years. He wants to be the best, and he will be the best. If you don’t believe me just ask him. Who doesn’t want their quarterback to be the most competitive guy? The guy who will go to any lengths necessary to win championships. They guy who coaxes guys into staying after practice for some voluntary work. The guys who makes his teammates become more competitive.
Morris is just that.
Michigan Wolverines Head Coach Brady Hoke must have been the happiest man alive last May when he received a verbal commitment from Morris. I don’t blame him. I would’ve been too. He’s an excellent fit in the pro-style scheme that offensive coordinator Al Borges is running in Ann Arbor, and there’s no doubt in my mind his best playing days are in front of him.
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