Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are both potential top five picks in tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft. Rosen entered his college career at UCLA as something of a phenom, while Darnold was also a blue-chip recruit. As a whole, though, the top class of 2015 quarterbacks didn’t all fare so well.
Josh Rosen was the No. 1 quarterback in the class, per 247Sports‘ composite rankings. Sam Darnold finished at No. 12. He was actually the second-ranked signal caller heading to the Trojans that year.
The top-ranked USC guy was a fellow four-star quarterback, Ricky Town. Town reentered the public discussion earlier this week, when Rosen went on a bit of a rant about those who doubted him.
josh rosen snapped on em pic.twitter.com/NVqYk6b7M2
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) April 24, 2018
Rosen has his rankings a bit twisted. Still, that isn’t a surprise, as athletes have their own ways of motivating themselves. A transcription, via Yahoo! Sports:
“I’ve always been the No. 2 guy. Coming out of high school, Ricky Town was the dude. He was going to SC, I was going to UCLA. He was No. 1 in the country, I was No. 2 and he was going to bring USC back to the promised land. After Ricky kinda faded away, Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP. He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much. Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, these dudes that are these exotic, cool, flashy quarterbacks. That No. 1 pick, all this stuff and I’m No. 2. You know what, I’m going to sit here and in a couple years, when all is said and done, I’m confident that I’ll still be standing.”
Darnold and Rosen are success stories, but Ricky Town and Blake Barnett may be more indicative of the fate of top class of 2015 quarterbacks.
He wound up at Ventura College, a junior college program, and will have two years to play for Pat Narduzzi at Pitt. He was the No. 9 composite quarterback.
Between Rosen (No. 1) and Darnold (No. 12), half of the top quarterbacks wound up leaving their original programs. The No. 2 guy, Blake Barnett, just made news on Wednesday, as he is set to head to his third college team.
Barnett began at Alabama, where he redshirted in 2015, and won the starting job at the beginning of 2016. He was quickly supplanted by Jalen Hurts, leaving at midyear. He resurfaced at Arizona State, but could not take over the starting job with the Sun Devils. Now, he is transferring again, with USF a possible destination.
No. 3 Kyler Murray began his college career at Texas A&M, and received some playing time, but had an overall tumultuous time trying to be the heir apparent for Johnny Manziel. Now, he is the favorite to take over for Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma, although as a top baseball prospect, he could also be drafted by the MLB. If he is in contention for a million dollar contract, there’s a chance that his college football career could end.
No. 4 Jarrett Stidham went to Baylor, and if the program had more stable leadership, he might still be there. He left for Auburn after the scandal surrounding the Bears program, and was one of the better starters in the SEC last year.
No. 7 Brady White is another former Arizona State Sun Devil. He played sparingly at ASU, dealing with injuries throughout his tenure, and in January, was a graduate transfer to Memphis.
And at No. 11, we have former Oregon Duck Travis Jonsen. Last summer, he left for Riverside City College, and in December, signed with FCS Montana State.
Not everything has gone smoothly for the top class of 2015 quarterbacks who stayed put, either. Jake Browning (No. 8) was one of the better quarterbacks in college football at Washington, and Drew Lock (No. 10) put up huge numbers for Mizzou last season. The others have had mixed careers.
Brandon Wimbush (No. 5) started at Notre Dame last season, but is definitely more dangerous as a runner than a passer at this point in his development. There’s a chance he could be pushed by blue-chip QB Phil Jurkovec, with whom Brian Kelly seems enamored. Deondre Francois (No. 6) was a very strong starter in his first year at Florida State, but injuries cost him his 2017 season, and legal issues put his college career in jeopardy.
If the top class of 2015 quarterbacks teach us anything, it is that there is no sure thing at the most important position in sports. That goes both for the college level, and as we all know from years of the NFL Draft, in the pros as well.