May 25, 2024
The best College Quarterbacks

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book and center Jarrett Patterson warm up before game against Iowa State Saturday December 28, 2019 at Camping World Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

They play the most important position on the field and the weight of responsibility falls on their shoulders.

An individual must be a leader, have a great maturation process, take control of the huddle and have a killer instinct to be a successful quarterback in the Power Five. Accomplishing all those feats will earn a signal-caller respect from his teammates, praise from his coaches and love from the fans.

The players on this list have become the face of their respective teams and hope to build on their success from last season this fall.

20. Brandon Peters, Illinois: He was a graduate transfer that went under the radar. However, the former Michigan signal-caller led Illinois to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2014 and probably saved Lovie Smith’s job. Peters threw for three or more touchdowns in wins over Akron, Connecticut and Michigan State. The former four-star prospect finished the season with 21 total touchdowns and he’s poised to build on that momentum this fall.

19. Mac Jones, Alabama: The redshirt sophomore played mop-up duty through most of last season until Tua Tagovailoa went down with injuries. Jones was the Crimson Tide’s starter in wins over Arkansas, Western Carolina and Michigan, when he threw for three touchdowns apiece and no interceptions. Despite having two of his passes intercepted and returned for touchdowns in the loss against Auburn, Jones still threw for four scores. He’ll have elite receivers in his arsenal so he might put up video game numbers for Alabama.

18. Jack Coan, Wisconsin: He made everyone forget about Alex Hornibrook after he threw for 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions last season. Coan scored a touchdown in 13 of the Badgers’ 14 games, including seven over the last four. The New York native’s 2,727 passing yards were the most by a Wisconsin quarterback since Russell Wilson. Standing at six-foot-three and weighing 221 pounds, Coan has great size and surprising mobility. He’ll have to put the offense on his shoulders this season without a Doak Award winning running back to hand the ball off to.

17. Peyton Ramsey, Northwestern: The transfer portal is what the doctor ordered for Pat Fitzgerald after the Wildcats were abysmal on offense last season. Ramsey threw for 5,329 yards and 32 touchdowns the past two seasons with Indiana and brings instant credibility to the unit. He’s a gamer and has great mobility. The former three-star prospect also had seven touchdowns on the ground and helped lead the Hoosiers to eight wins for the first time since 1993.

16. Bo Nix, Auburn: Talk about getting thrown to the wolves. Nix led the team to nine wins and was the Tigers’ first true freshman quarterback to ever beat Alabama. He also had 300-yard passing games against Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The Alabama native played like a veteran towards the end of the season and was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year. He had 1,417 yards through the air, eight touchdown passes and five rushing scores over Auburn’s last seven games. This time around the true sophomore should have a better grasp of Gus Malzahn’s offense.

15. Skylar Thompson, Kansas State: The former four-star prospect is one of the most seasoned quarterbacks in the Big 12, with over two years worth of starting experience. Thompson’s leadership and productivity is the reason the Wildcats got back on the winning track in 2019. He had two touchdown passes in three different Big 12 clashes. In a three-week span the Missouri native combined for eight rushing touchdowns in wins over TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas. The six-foot-two, 212-pounder has 1,045 career yards on the ground, to go along with 19 rushing scores.

14. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: Because of the Aggies brutal schedule and the success of Joe Burrow, Mond was overlooked last season. He’s a true dual-threat quarterback and had 300-yard passing games against Texas State, Arkansas and Mississippi State. Mond also went over the century mark in rushing in the bowl win over Oklahoma State. Over the last two seasons under Jimbo Fisher Mond has thrown for 6,004 yards, 44 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Not to mention he rumbled for 975 yards on the ground, to go along with 15 rushing scores during that span.

13. Jamie Newman, Georgia: Kirby Smart needed an experienced quarterback to replace three-year starter Jake Fromm and he landed a good one from the transfer portal. Newman has great size, standing six-foot-four and weighing 230 pounds. The former three-star prospect threw for 3,951 yards, 34 touchdowns and 15 interceptions over the last two seasons with Wake Forest and won 15 games. The North Carolina native also rumbled for 821 yards on the ground and had 10 rushing scores during that span. He’s a dangerous dual-threat signal-caller looking to lead the Bulldogs to their fourth-straight SEC Title Game berth this fall.

12. Micale Cunningham, Louisville: The Alabama native had a breakout season and was an initial part of the Cardinals’ revival. Cunningham scored 10 total touchdowns in Louisville’s wins over NC State and Syracuse. He had three touchdowns apiece against Florida State and Miami. The six-foot-one, 192-pounder set the school record for passing efficiency, with a quarterback rating of 194.45. The former four star prospect also knows how to use his legs with 979 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons.

11. Sean Clifford, Penn State: Trace McSorley left behind some big shoes to fill and Clifford fit the same size. The Cincinnati native beat out Tommy Stevens for the starting position and led the Nittany Lions to 11 wins, including a New Year’s Six Bowl victory. Clifford had a career-high, 398 yards through the air in the win over Maryland. The six-foot-two, 216-pounder threw for three or more touchdowns in five games, including four scores against Buffalo and Michigan State. Clifford can also hurt defenses with his legs and had 402 yards on the ground to go along with five rushing scores.

10. Kyle Trask, Florida: After Feleipe Franks went down with a season-ending injury against Kentucky, Trask stepped into the starting role and never looked back. It’s amazing how the former two-star prospect went 8-2 as the Gators’ starter, with 2,775 yards and 24 touchdown passes in those games. Not to mention both of those losses were to the teams that played in the SEC Championship. Trask threw for three or more touchdowns against LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida State. With Trask’s development, Dan Mullen continues to show why he’s a quarterback guru.

9. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota: No one seen him coming, but by the end of last season he became a household name in the Big Ten. Morgan led the Gophers to the most wins in a single season since 1904. The Kentucky native led the conference in passing yards per game and finished second in passing touchdowns. Morgan’s 3,253 yards through the air and 30 touchdowns tosses were the most ever by a Minnesota quarterback. The former three-star prospect also earned second-team All-Big Ten. Morgan scored three or more touchdowns in six games, including four against Purdue and Northwestern.

8. Charlie Brewer, Baylor: The former three-star prospect seems like he has been around forever, with three years worth of starting experience. He led the Bears to their first-ever Big 12 Championship Game appearance and first 9-0 start since 2013. Brewer has 7,742 career passing yards and 51 touchdown tosses. The Austin native needs 2,625 passing yards and 28 touchdown passes to become the school’s all-time leader in both categories. The six-foot-one, 210-pounder also has steamrolled for 719 yards on the ground and 18 rusing scores the past two seasons. Brewer had 300-yard games Rice, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in 2019. He also threw for three touchdowns apiece against Stephen F. Austin, UTSA and Iowa State.

7. Kedon Slovis, USC: When JT Daniels went down with a season-ending knee injury in game one, Slovis got thrown to the wolves. However, he had arguably one of the best true freshman campaigns of any quarterback in the Power Five. Slovis blossomed into an All-Pac-12 caliber player overnight and finished the year with 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns. The Arizona native was also named the Pac-12’s Freshman Offensive Player of the Year. He had jaw-dropping numbers in conference play, including four touchdown passes in wins over Colorado, Arizona State, California and UCLA. Not to mention he shredded the Bruins for a career-high, 515 yards, which was the most ever in a single game by a USC quarterback.

6. Sam Howell, North Carolina: The Tar Heels No. 1 recruit in 2019 lived up to his billing and took the ACC by storm. Despite playing in two less games than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Howell’s 38 touchdown passes led the ACC and were the most-ever in a single season by a North Carolina quarterback. He finished second in the league with 3,641 yards through the air, earned freshman All-America honors and third-team All-ACC. Howell threw for three or more touchdowns against Temple, Appalachian State, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Mercer and NC State. He’s the main reason why the Tar Heels will be a ranked team approaching the 2020 season.

5. Brock Purdy, Iowa State: The former three-star prospect had a fabulous true sophomore campaign and led the conference in passing yards. Purdy’s 3,982 yards through the air and 27 touchdown passes were the most ever in a single season by a Cyclone quarterback. The Arizona native threw for 300-plus yards in six games, including 435 in the win over Louisiana-Monroe. Purdy scored 35 total touchdowns for the Cyclones and earned second-team All-Big 12. The six-foot-one, 210-pounder has a skill set similar to Russell Wilson’s and made a name for himself with come from behind victories. In two seasons with Iowa State, Purdy has passed for 6,232 yards, 43 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He also has 557 yards on the ground and 13 rushing scores during that span.

4. Sam Ehlinger, Texas: He was literally born a Longhorn and is a Austin native. The former four-star prospect has three years worth of starting experience with Texas and been a very productive signal-caller. Ehlinger tied for first in the Big 12 in passing touchdowns last season, with 32. He racked up 4,326 total yards and scored 39 total touchdowns. All of his amazing feats were overshadowed because Texas lost to Oklahoma and failed to make the Big 12 Title game after beginning the season as a top-10 team. However, Ehlinger needs 40 scores this fall to become the school’s all-time career leader in total touchdowns.

3. Ian Book, Notre Dame: He has gone 20-3 as Notre Dame’s starter over the past two seasons, which included a Playoff berth in 2018. Book is a captain for the Fighting Irish and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year last season. The California native had a career-high, five touchdown passes in the win over New Mexico. He needs 39 touchdown passes and 37 total scores this fall to become Notre Dame’s all-time career leader in both categories. The former three-star prospect will be a Heisman candidate and it’s going to be the Playoffs or bust type of season for the Fighting Irish in 2020.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State: The former Georgia quarterback entered the transfer portal and the rest was history for the nation’s No. 1 recruit of 2018. In his first year with the program, Fields led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season, a Big Ten Title and a Playoff berth. The former five-star recruit led the conference with 3,273 yards through the air and 41 touchdowns passes. The six-foot-two, 220-pounder’s 51 total touchdowns were the second-most in a single season by an Ohio State quarterback. Not to mention he earned second-team All-America and was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if Fields enters the 2020 season as the Heisman favorite.

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson: No other returning player in the Power Five can match the resume of the Tigers’ signal-caller. Lawrence has a National Title, two-straight National Championship Game appearances and two ACC Titles in two seasons with Clemson. He led the league in passing yards and earned first-team All-ACC last year. The former five-star prospect needs 42 touchdown passes this fall to become Clemson’s all-time career leader. The six-foot-six, 220-pound Lawrence would be a top-10 NFL Draft pick this month if he was eligible. However, he has an opportunity in 2020 to become the first Tigers’ quarterback to win two National Titles in three years with the program. Adding the Heisman hardware to the Georgia native’s impressive list of accolades would be the cherry on top.

Honorable Mention

Michael Penix Jr.: He passed for 1,394 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns for Indiana before suffering a season-ending injury.

Jarrett Guarantano: He threw for 2,158 yards, 16 touchdowns and led Tennessee to six-game win streak to end the season.

Adrian Martinez: A sophomore slump halted the hype he established as a true freshman, but he’s still the quarterback Scott Frost believes will return Nebraska to competitive program again.