2019 Preseason All-American Projections: Quarterbacks

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2019 college football season WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2020 NFL Draft.

First-Team Quarterback: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Lawrence took college football by storm as a freshman, compiling a flawless 2018 season that culminated with him ripping Alabama’s defense comprised of NFL talent to win another National Championship for Clemson. Lawrence completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions on the year. The scary part about Lawrence is he looked like he was just scratching the surface and has the upside to get better as he gains experience.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder has a good arm, developed poise, and play-making ability. Lawrence makes good decisions while distributing the ball well to his phenomenal supporting cast. Clemson brings back a loaded offense with quality blocking, good running backs, and mismatch receivers for 2019. The Tigers also take on an easy schedule with a conference slate that should not pose much of a challenge to the defending National Champions. Unless Lawrence gets injured, he should have a massive sophomore season and earn a lot of postseason honors, such as a First-Team All-American selection.

Second-Team Quarterback: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

A year ago, Tagovailoa won the starting quarterback job over Jalen Hurts for the 2018 season. He then went on to have a sensational sesason for the Crimson Tide. On the year, he completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,966 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions. With a loaded team around him, Tagovailoa should produce another prolific season in 2019.

Tagovailoa has the best receiver in college football in Jerry Jeudy. Aside from Jeudy, Alabama has a few other receivers who should get drafted by the NFL, including Henry Ruggs and sophomore Jaylen Waddle. The Crimson Tide backfield is also loaded again, so there will be a running game to support to Tagovailoa.

The Crimson Tide will see some good defenses in their divisional games, with excellent NFL talent in the SEC West, but they don’t play any difficult non-conference opponents. Tagovailoa should have a fast start to the season as he sees cupcakes Duke, New Mexico State and Southern Miss early in the year. The Crimson Tide also showed a lot of courage scheduling Western Carolina in late November. Tagovailoa should have his way with plenty of SEC opponents, including South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M. Tagovailoa’s toughest opponents will be LSU in early November, Mississippi State a week later, and Auburn to conclude the season. Thus, Tagovailoa should produce another big season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if rushing touchdowns and Alabama putting in the backups because of blowouts lead to Tagovailoa having not huge numbers and being a Second-Team All-American.

Third-Team Quarterback: Justin Herbert, Oregon

The 6-foot-6, 233-pound signal-caller has a NFL skill set and could up a huge year with his arm and legs. Herbert displays a good size and a strong arm with the ability to loft in touch passes. He can loft in passes with nice ball placement, leading his receivers and beating quality coverage with the location of his passes. With his height and size, Herbert is comfortable to stand tall in the pocket and exhibit patience to let routes develop. Along with his arm talent, he is a quality athlete with the ability to pick up yards on the ground and should add a good number of rushing touchdowns to his stat line.

Herbert is going to see a challenging schedule as a senior, and it starts with a Week 1 matchup against Auburn. The Tigers have a lot of NFL talent on their defense and will probably be the toughest defense that Herbert faces all season. After Auburn, he has some cupcakes to pad his stats before seeing better Pac-12 competition. Playing well against Stanford, Washington and USC will be important for Herbert. He also had some issues with Arizona and Arizona State last year, so it will be interesting to see if he rebounds in the rematches against those teams prior to the in-state rivalry game to close out the year.

Herbert’s schedule and competition might keep him from producing as large of statistics as other quarterbacks, especially compared to the Big XII quarterbacks. Hence, I could see Herbert not being a First-Team All-American.

Honorable Mentions: Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Stanford’s K.J. Costello, Michigan’s Shea Patterson, Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke, Iowa’s Nate Stanely, LSU’s Joe Burrow, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger and Colorado’s Steven Montez.

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