Last year's incoming freshman quarterback class was pretty easy to peg. It was a given that Rich Rodriguez was going to throw the keys to Tate Forcier and Matt Barkley would get his shot. Even Austyn Carta-Samuels started creeping up our freshman rankings before summer camp began.
This year is a bit more of a challenge. There are some definite opportunities for freshmen to compete for open starting jobs, but like Barkley last year, they need to pull a coup to win the job. As we said about Barkley last year "think long-term, hope for short-term" if you are considering drafting a freshman quarterback in 2010.
Will Compete for a Starting Role
Rivals.com: 2 (Dual) Scout.com: 8 ESPN: 4
The state of Michigan was loaded at quarterback this year, with three Elite 11 signal callers hailing from the mitten state. In my opinion the top prospect among them is Bolden. He has a "live arm" (as Mel Kiper would say) and can escape from the pocket. He reminds me of Florida State's E.J. Manuel. He can run when needed, but his arm is his greatest asset. If Bolden does win the job, the offense won't have to change much from what they did with Daryll Clark at the helm. Bolden will push for early playing time, but don't forget Kevin Newsome, a top recruit from last year, is already on campus.
Rivals.com: 1 Scout.com: 1 ESPN: 7 - Highlight Video
With Max Hall graduating, the Cougars have a need for a new starting quarterback and Heaps is one of the top recruits in the country. Heaps is your classic shotgun quarterback and very polished for his age. He holds the ball high, has a quick delivery and excellent footwork which helps him get the ball out fast and hard. It is obvious he has been taught well. At 6-foot-2 he's not an overpowering quarterback, but he is nimble and rolls out well. And most important for those thinking short-term...Heaps is already impressing his teammates as he's on campus.
Rivals.com: 31 Scout.com: 65 ESPN: 19 - Highlight Video
As we've mentioned numerous times already, Notre Dame returns just one scholarship quarterback in Dayne Crist. So it is not a surprise to see new head coach Brian Kelly sign three quarterbacks for 2010. Rees is already on campus which gives him a leg up on Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa. He's also adapt at running a shotgun offense. He is not rated as highly as Hendrix, but his delivery and footwork seem more polished to this average recruitnik. When it is all said and done we still see Dayne Crist winning the starting job rather handily.
Rivals.com: 1 (Dual) Scout.com: 5 ESPN: 5 - Highlight Video
Rich Rod showed that he is not afraid to start a freshman quarterback in 2009, and he could do it again in 2010. Starting over sounds like a really bad idea, as Forcier was about as good as one could have expected a true freshman to be last season, and he will have another spring practice under his belt. But I still question whether Forcier can make it through an entire season without suffering severe bodily injury given his size, and current backup Denard Robinson doesn't have the arm to play quarterback full-time. And let's not kid ourselves, Rodriguez is on the hot seat, and if he feels Gardner can give him a win or two, he's going to play. Gardner is a pure dual-threat quarterback. He doesn't have the arm of Bolden, but has better wheels, an excellent fit for the coach's system. He arguably has the most upside of any quarterback in this class, but he is still very raw. We've heard many opinions that a redshirt would serve him well. Unfortunately he may not be afforded this luxury.
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Coach Bob Stoops was not shy about saying the quarterback competition would be open this spring and summer. And after watching a few of Bell's highlight reels you can understand why Stoops is able to make such a statement. Bell has it all: size, arm, field awareness and good mobility. Unfortunately for Bell he will have to wait until after he graduates to join the mix. In the end we see Landry Jones holding on to his job and improving next season, but we have to consider all options.
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It is hard not to be impressed with the Vols' recruiting class. Despite the coaching change, Derek Dooley was able to sign a top class. One of the top prospects is quarterback Tyler Bray. He's very similar to Bell...big, strong, great arm, maybe not quite as mobile. The Vols need a new starting quarterback, and Bray is a solid drop back prospect that should get a chance to compete for the job. He is on campus and will participate in spring ball.
Rivals.com: 11 Scout.com: 32 ESPN: 103 - Highlight Video
Pit also brings in the athletic Anthony Gonzalez, but Myers' film stands out to us. He is more of a drop back/shotgun passer and could push for the starting gig.
Rivals.com: 16 (Dual) Scout.com: 18 ESPN: 8 - Highlight Video
He has a bit of a sidearm delivery, but the ball just launches out of Smith's arm. He also moves very well in the pocket. The question is can Maryland's offense produce a fantasy-worthy quarterback?
Rivals.com: 16 Scout.com: 28 ESPN: 100 - Highlight Video
Thomas flipped his commitment from Arizona State to the Colorado State, giving the Rams arguably their highest rated recruit in school history. The Mountain West is about as close as you can get to a BCS-level conference, so our big fish in a small pond theory may not be an exact fit. But we like Thomas' skill set and he is on campus, which gives him a good chance at winning the open starting job.
Rivals.com: 8 Scout.com: 3 ESPN: 33 - Highlight Video
Jones will also be in the mix for the open quarterback job at Penn State. On film Bolden appears to hold a clear edge in both arm strength and mobility, but Jones is already on campus and will participate in spring practice. A huge advantage, especially for a quarterback.
Keeper League Specials
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With the last name of Montana, don't expect Nick to be sitting on the bench for long. Jake Locker will graduate next year and his backup has decided to transfer, paving the way for tons of hype, flashbacks and hoopla
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Yes our Alabama bias is alive and well. Roll Tide. One of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country, but he is headed for a redshirt.
Rivals.com: 5 Scout.com: 54 ESPN: 65 - Highlight Video
Houston has officially replaced Texas Tech as the top fantasy system play in my book. Yes, I know offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen moves on. But the Cougars won't stray away from their offense that has racked up points against C-USA defenses. Broadway is not what you'd expect from a Houston quarterback, however. He doesn't have a big arm, but he can run. Which could add an interesting twist to the offense if he can win the job in 2011.
Other Names to Know
Andrew Hendrix, Notre Dame
Barry Brunetti, West Virginia
Connor Wood, Texas
Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Sean Robinson, Purdue
Trevor Siemian, Northwestern
Nathan Sorenson, Oklahoma St
Johnny Deaton, Oklahoma St
Luke Massa, Notre Dame
Anthony Gonzalez, Pittsburgh
Jeremy Johnson, West Virginia
Marcus McDade, Fresno State
Jeffrey Godfrey, Central Florida
Brion Carnes, Nebraska
David Piland, Houston
Cody Kater, Cincinnati
Jesse Scroggins, USC
Brett Nottingham, Stanford
Zach Lee, LSU
Chandler Whitmer, Illinois
Austin Hinder, California