When it Comes to Recruiting Quarterbacks: the Early Bird That Gets the Worm

By Corey Long – @CoreyLong

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

College football, much like the NFL, is becoming more and more reliant on the quarterback position. That wasn’t always the case in college football, and you can go through the championship teams of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s to see many teams that had quarterbacks who didn’t fit in NFL offenses for a variety of reasons.

But fast forward to today when the adjustments the NFL game has made to fit today’s top college quarterbacks puts greater importance at the position. As the Clemson Tigers showed last year when they benched Kelly Bryant for Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback position can be the difference on a championship team.

With a greater importance on quarterbacks in college football, it means a greater emphasis on recruiting quarterbacks early and finding an arm for recruiting class before the summer.

Of the top 25 quarterbacks ranked by WalterFootball.com (to be released next week), 19 of them have already given verbal commitments, with California prospect Jay Butterfield choosing Oregon over the weekend. There are still some quality players left out there, but it would be a surprise to see too many hanging around past the summer.

Who’s Left: Texas prospect Malik Hornsby is the top-rated quarterback left undecided, and fellow Texas prospect Haynes King is right behind him. Hornsby has already taken an official visit to North Carolina and has also been considering Texas A&M.

King also has the Aggies in his sights, and they offered a couple of weeks ago, but it’s likely that King will visit several programs over the summer to see which one has the things needed to be his future home. Tennessee, Duke, Arkansas, Baylor, TCU and Auburn have all been mentioned as schools that have a good shot against King.

Quick Fixes: The transfer portal has changed the way the quarterback position is recruited. More programs are looking at quarterbacks on a year-to-year basis, like Oklahoma, which went from three seasons of Baker Mayfield, a transfer from Texas Tech, to one season of Kyler Murray, a transfer from Texas A&M, and now one season of Jalen Hurts, a transfer from Alabama.

Using three different quarterbacks in three seasons isn’t usually a recipe for success, but it’s worked for Oklahoma on the field, as the Sooners have made the College Football Playoff the past two seasons. Of course, bringing in these high-profile transfers means that some in-house options have departed, like former blue-chip Austin Kendall leaving Oklahoma for West Virginia.

The No. 2 quarterback is a sweet gig in the NFL, but it’s no man’s land in college football because the eligibility clock is ticking whether a player takes the field or not. That’s why the transfer portal has been so active with quarterbacks looking for homes. Several prospects from the 2018 recruiting class like Justin Fields (transferred to Ohio State from Georgia) and Tate Martell (transferred from Ohio State to Miami) are already on their second teams.

The Future: It is no surprise that the 2021 quarterback class is already in play, and don’t be surprised if several of the top arms in that class make verbal commitments over the summer. Chicago area prospect J.J. McCarthy, who could be the top-rated quarterback in the 2021 class, committed to Michigan over the weekend.

Other 2021 quarterbacks who have already committed include Sam Huard (Washington), Kyle McCord (Ohio State) and Tyler Buchner (Notre Dame). The dominoes should continue to fall over the summer.

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