Quarterback is the most-important position in football.
At the college level especially, an elite quarterback can take a team from average to great, from great to all-time great.
What’s your team’s quarterback situation look like this season? Are you in good shape?
What about the future?
Once your starting quarterback leaves, who’s going to replace him?
We’ve made our predictions.
Looking at recruiting classes and depth charts, we’re predicting the next starting quarterback for college football’s top teams. Who will replace J.T. Barrett at Ohio State? Deshaun Watson at Clemson? And on and on and on.
Here’s what we’re thinking.
Current starter: Tommy Armstrong
Next starter: Patrick O’Brien
Armstrong has one season left at Nebraska. The Huskers’ dual-threat quarterback has had an up-and-down career in Lincoln, Neb., but he showed signs of promise down the stretch in 2015 and could be primed for a big season this fall. We expect O’Brien, a four-star recruit in the 2016 class, to take over for him as starter in 2017.
The competition for Armstrong’s replacement will likely also include Tanner Lee (a transfer from Tulane), A.J. Bush (a dual-threat former three-star recruit) and Tristan Gebbia (a four-star pro-style recruit in the 2017 class). O’Brien, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback, is perfect for Mike Riley’s pro-style system and will have a year of experience in the program, something that will make him the favorite over Gebbia and others.
Next: Michigan ??? >>>Michigan
Current starter: John O’Korn (expected)
Next starter: Dylan McCaffrey
Jim Harbaugh has yet to name his starting quarterback for 2016, but most pundits believe O’Korn will be the man behind center for the Wolverines.
O’Korn is a junior, so 2018 will probably be the season in which the next Michigan starting quarterback is decided.
We believe that person will be Dylan McCaffrey, the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class and the son of former NFL wideout Ed McCaffrey (and the brother of Stanford standout Christian McCaffrey).
The 6-foot-5, 196-pound pro-style QB is a potential future NFL Draft first-round selection and a probable future star for Harbaugh and Co.
Current starter: Brandon Harris
Next starter: Justin McMillan
Quarterback play has been an issue for much of Les Miles’ tenure in Baton Rouge, La. Brandon Harris is the guy for the Tigers, and barring something unforeseen, he’ll continue to be the starter through the 2017 season. We’re predicting Justin McMillan will be the man to take over for Harris in 2018. There really isn’t a clear answer behind Harris for the Tigers, but McMillan, a former three-star dual-threat recruit in the 2015 class, has impressed in practices.
Your guess is as good as ours here, though.
Current starter: Jacob Eason (expected)
Next starter: Jake Fromm
Kirby Smart hasn’t named his starting quarterback for the 2016 season, but most analysts believe he’ll roll with Eason, a true freshman and the No. 1 QB recruit in his class.
Eason, a 6-foot-5, 208-pound prospect out of Washington, is a likely future pro. He’s someone who could easily be departing from Athens, Ga. after only three seasons and that’s what we’re predicting will happen.
So the Bulldogs will need a new starter in 2019.
We’re projecting that new starter to be Jake Fromm, a four-star recruit in the 2017 class out of Georgia. The 6-foot-2, 224-pound prospect is ranked the No. 3 pro-style QB in the class by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings and should be a nice replacement for Eason when he leaves for the NFL.
Current starter: Brad Kaaya
Next starter: Jack Allison
Few – if any – programs have a better starting quarterback right now than the Hurricanes, who boast Brad Kaaya, a potential top-five pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kaaya’s just a junior, so it’s possible Miami won’t need a new starter until 2018, but we’re expecting him to leave early for the NFL.
Jack Allison is the man we’re predicting to take over for Kaaya in 2017.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound prospect is a pro-style QB out of Palmetto, Fla. He was ranked the No. 8 player at his position and the No. 172 player in the 2016 class by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.
Allison will be a redshirt freshman (probably) in 2017.
Current starter: Baker Mayfield
Next starter: Kyler Murray
Sooners’ fans will be able to watch Baker Mayfield lead their team for another two seasons (unless he surprisingly leaves for the NFL). Mayfield was previously going to be a senior for OU this fall, but the Big 12 changed its walk-on transfer rule, giving the QB back the season of eligibility he lost when he left Texas Tech.
This means Bob Stoops’ team can wait until 2018 to replace the Heisman Trophy contender.
A former five-star dual-threat quarterback recruit is waiting for that time to come.
We’re predicting Kyler Murray, who transferred to OU from Texas A&M, to be the man who replaces Baker Mayfield under center.
Current quarterback: Deshaun Watson
Next quarterback: Zerrick Cooper
No college football program has a better quarterback than the Tigers, who boast the Heisman Trophy frontrunner and potential No. 1 overall pick in Deshaun Watson.
Watson will (almost surely) be gone at the end of the season, though, as he seems to be a lock to leave early for the NFL Draft.
Who’s going to replace him behind center?
We’re predicting it will be Zerrick Cooper, a four-star dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 class committed to Clemson.
The 6-foot-4, 206-pound QB will have a year of experience in the program by 2017 and he should be ready to take the reins from Watson.
Current starter: Cooper Bateman (expected)
Next starter: Jalen Hurts
It looks like the Crimson Tide will go with Cooper Bateman or Jalen Hurts as the starter at quarterback this fall.
We expect Nick Saban to roll with Bateman, a sophomore with some experience, to begin the season.
Hurts, a talented four-star true freshman, should eventually take over, though.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the 6-foot-2, 212-pound dual-threat quarterback and at some point in 2016 (or 2017), Hurts will replace Bateman as the team’s starter.
Current starter: Dakota Prukop (expected)
Next starter: Travis Jonsen
The Ducks have gone the graduate transfer route at quarterback in each of the last two seasons. Oregon started FCS transfer Vernon Adams last year and is expected to start FCS transfer Dakota Prukop this fall.
This is just a one-year solution for Mark Helfrich’s program, though.
Who will replace Prukop under center next fall?
We’re predicting it will be Travis Jonsen, a four-star quarterback recruit in the 2015 class. The 6-foot-3, 194-pound dual-threat QB redshirted last fall and will be a redshirt sophomore in 2017 when he could take over the starting job.
He was ranked the No. 4 dual-threat QB in the 2015 class by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.
Current starter: Deondre Francois (expected)
Next starter: Malik Henry
The Seminoles have yet to decide on a starting quarterback for the fall, but we’re expecting redshirt freshman Deondre Francois to beat out last year’s starter, Sean Maguire.
Francois, a four-star recruit in the 2015 class, should be FSU’s starter through at least 2018, so it’ll be a while until the program needs a new one.
When it does, we’re predicting Malik Henry, a four-star QB in the 2016 class, to be the new man under center.
Henry, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound dual-threat quarterback out of California, is ranked the No. 47 player in the class by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.
Current starter: Shane Buechele (expected)
Next starer: Sam Ehlinger
Will Charlie Strong roll with a true freshman starter this fall? It’s looking that way. Many experts are expecting the Longhorns to start four-star freshman Shane Buechele, an early-enrollee who’s impressed since he arrived in Austin.
If Buechele is the guy, Texas probably won’t need a new starter until 2019 or 2020.
So it’s a little tough to predict something that far out, but we’re going with Sam Ehlinger, a four-star recruit in the 2017 class, to be the Longhorns’ starter after Buechele.
Ehlinger, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound dual-threat QB, is similar to Buechele and will likely be a redshirt sophomore or redshirt junior when he takes over.
Current starter: Luke Del Rio (expected)
Next starter: Feleipe Franks
The Gators have yet to name a starter for this season, but most are expecting redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio, a transfer from Oregon State, to win the job.
Competing with him for that position will be Feleipe Franks, a four-star true freshman.
Franks won’t win the job this season (probably), but he’ll eventually be the man for the Gators.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound prospect out of Crawfordville, Fla. is ranked the No. 5 pro-style QB and the No. 54 player in the 2016 class by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.
Current starter: John Franklin III
Next starter: Woody Barrett
The Tigers are one of the many SEC teams yet to settle on a starter for the 2016 season, but we’re predicting this year’s man under center to be JUCO transfer John Franklin III.
Franklin, a dual-threat QB with two years of eligibility, should be the starter through the 2017 season, meaning Auburn won’t need a new starter until 2018.
When the job opens up, we’re expecting Woody Barrett to take over.
Barrett, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound dual-threat QB out of Florida, is ranked the No. 6 quarterback in the 2016 class by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.
Current starter: DeShone Kizer (expected)
Next starter: Avery Davis
College football’s most-intriguing quarterback competition of the summer will take place in South Bend, Ind. Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer will battle for the Fighting Irish’s starting job.
We’re predicting the sophomore, Kizer, to win the job.
This means, barring Kizer leaving early for the NFL, 2019 will be the year in which the Fighting Irish need a new quarterback.
When that year comes, we’re expecting Avery Davis, a four-star dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class committed to Notre Dame, to win the job.
The 5-foot-11, 192-pound prospect out of Texas is ranked the No. 7 dual-threat QB in the class and would bring a lot of athleticism to the position.
Current starter: J.T. Barrett
Next starter: Tate Martell
As talked about in the intro, the Buckeyes are loaded at quarterback. J.T. Barrett, the Big Ten’s best QB, will be the man in Columbus until he leaves, which will probably be after the 2017 season. It’s possible Barrett, a redshirt junior, could depart for the NFL after this season, but that seems unlikely.
So 2018 will be the season in which Urban Meyer has to decide on a new starter.
He’ll have quite a group to pick from with Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins, Danny Clark and Tate Martell (and possibly others).
Burrow and Haskins will both have more experience than Martell, but we’re predicting the Buckeyes’ most-recent commit to win the job.
Martell, a four-star recruit in the 2017 class, is the No. 1 dual-threat QB in the class, per 247Sports’ Composite Rankings. Though he’s a bit undersized, he’s a perfect fit for Meyer’s offense, which likes to utilize a quarterback’s running ability.
Who are you picking to win the job, Ohio State fans?