The Alabama Crimson Tide have an elite quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, who will be looking for his fifth consecutive season of at least 2,500 total passing yards. The Clemson Tigers have Deshaun Watson, who often put up big numbers in 2017, including 4,327 passing yards. The other two playoff contenders are Ohio State, which has J.T. Barrett at quarterback, and Georgia, which has Jake Fromm.
College Football has a quarterback problem. In a recent interview, a Sports Illustrated writer called the position the biggest weakness of the sport. He’s right. In fact, his explanation of why makes college football even more of a joke.
After last season, Alabama and Clemson will be the odds-on favorites to return to the College Football Playoff. They will be joined by Auburn and Ohio State, who will enter the season as the Big Four. To challenge them, there will be a variety of contenders to emerge from the Group of Five conferences, and some of those teams could be ready to knock the top dogs off their perches. But before we get to the 2021 version of the playoff, let’s look back at the College Football Playoff from the 2019 season.. Read more about ncaa football playoffs and let us know what you think.
Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and other NFL-bound quarterbacks have left huge gaps on their former clubs’ rosters.
Those respective exits have fans at prominent schools bracing for new faces to make a name for themselves while following in their predecessors’ footsteps. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Notre Dame are among the College Football Playoff contenders featuring new signal-callers this season.
Before they take the field, let’s take a look at where those fresh names come from and why they’ve been thrust into the starting lineup this season.
Watch clips of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young as he takes the reins of the reigning national champion Crimson Tide.
Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide
Young dazzled Alabama fans during the spring game, throwing for 333 yards and one score on 25-of-44 passing. Since the coaches switched him from USC during his 2020 recruiting cycle, supporters have been hoping for more than a peek.
Young was the No. 5 overall recruit and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in his California class. In his final year of high school, he passed for 4,528 yards, 58 touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing almost 72% of his throws. Over the course of four seasons, he accumulated 13,250 passing yards, 152 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions.
He did it at Mater Dei High School in California, one of the state’s most renowned high schools, and had a few playoff matches with current Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. Young will provide flexibility to Alabama’s offense this season as a passer who can also create plays with his feet.
He possesses the arm and the accuracy to move the chains via the air, has experience in big-game circumstances, and Alabama fans have every reason to be thrilled if the spring game is any indicator of what he’ll accomplish this season.
Before his first start, Young pondered on what he’s looking forward to.
On Saturday, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (@ bryce young) will make his first start, and I asked him how he was feeling ahead of the season opener versus Miami. pic.twitter.com/4LUqRZfrDf #RollTide
30 August 2021 — Hailey Sutton (@ HaileySutton)
Relive D.J. Uiagalelei’s best moments from last season as the Clemson quarterback prepares to replace Trevor Lawrence.
D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson Tigers
Uiagalelei, who started two games for the Tigers in 2020, has more experience than Young entering this season. In those two games, the sophomore passed for 781 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was Clemson’s sixth true freshman quarterback to start a game, and he led the Tigers to a victory against Boston College and a defeat to Notre Dame, averaging 37 points per game.
As previously stated, he and Young had their own rivalry in high school, with each quarterback defeating the other on route to a state title. Uiagalelei was rated No. 43 in the 2020 class and was the class’s third-highest-ranked quarterback behind Young and Hudson Card, who both signed with Texas.
He’s a 6-foot-4, 250-pound quarterback with a massive arm who showed it off in the 2020 season. As he starts this season as the starter, the experience he acquired last year will be important.
Uiagalelei loses its top three receivers from last season, but tight end Braden Galloway points to many returning skill-position players, including standout receiver Justyn Ross, who was medically allowed to play after missing the whole previous season due to a congenital fusion in his spine.
Uiagalelei will have plenty of targets to throw to and should be able to pick up where he left off in 2020 and contribute to Clemson’s offense.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State Buckeyes
Unlike top quarterback prospects like Young and Uiagalelei, who were recruited early in their high school careers, Stroud’s recruitment path is unique.
Stroud, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback from Rancho Cucamonga, California, received a few scholarship offers, but big schools didn’t pay attention to him until he earned MVP in the Elite 11.
He won the award over some of the best quarterbacks in the nation, including Young, and received even more exposure as a result of the event.
#GoBucks Meet QB1 @CJ7STROUD pic.twitter.com/x7TMuoWp6E
August 26, 2021 — Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB)
Ohio State, along with a few other schools, including Georgia, came knocking on Stroud, who ended the recruiting cycle rated No. 104. Last year, Stroud sat behind Justin Fields for the Buckeyes.
Stroud is the starter now as a redshirt freshman, despite having minimal experience.
He was selected the starter on Aug. 21 after beating out fellow redshirt Jack Miller and true freshman Kyle McCord for the position. In Ohio State’s spring game, Stroud passed for 185 yards and two touchdowns while demonstrating his accuracy. Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and tight end Jeremy Ruckert will all be back, along with a few more untested receivers as depth.
Because of his similarities to the 11th overall selection in this year’s NFL draft, Stroud should make a smooth transition for the offense compared to Fields last season.
The offense won’t have to adjust to Stroud’s skill set, and with the production returning at receiver, he won’t have to play flawlessly or be the hero.
Texas A&M Aggies: Haynes King
King was the fourth-best quarterback in the 2020 quarterback class and a top-50 prospect, making this the year of the quarterback class. In that class, there were a number of excellent quarterback prospects, and several of them are currently at the top of their respective depth charts.
King was a 6-foot-2, 185-pound recruit from Longview, Texas, and considered a big win on the recruiting trail for Jimbo Fisher’s staff, who sought to secure the future of the quarterback position at Texas A&M. He threw for 7,537 yards, 82 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in three years of high school. King also had 1,392 yards rushing with 20 touchdowns on the ground.
Because he is an accurate thrower who can can run, the rookie signal-caller fits Fisher’s quarterback profile well. King has added precision, decision-making, and consistency to sessions, according to Fisher this summer. King is a redshirt freshman with little experience, but he has the potential to help the Aggies go closer to their objective of reaching the College Football Playoff.
Jack Coan, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Coan is the lone outlier on this list, since he didn’t get many large offers and wasn’t a well regarded recruit.
The senior quarterback was a three-star prospect out of West Sayville, New York in the 2017 class. He had offers from Wisconsin, Indiana, Nebraska, Michigan, and a few other Big Ten schools, but nothing significant from outside the league.
@Ka szn @jcoan17 | #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/sEEUQnG17i sEEUQnG17i sEEUQnG17i sEEUQnG17i sEEUQnG17i sEEUQnG17i
August 25, 2021 — Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball)
Coan committed to Wisconsin and began the 2019 season, throwing for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He guided Wisconsin to a 10-4 record, which included a trip to the Big Ten Championship game, where they were defeated by Ohio State, and a spot in the Rose Bowl versus Oregon.
Last season, Coan sustained a foot injury and lost his starting position to Graham Mertz. He went through the transfer portal and arrived to Notre Dame just in time. The Irish were searching for a quarterback to bridge the gap between last season’s starter, Ian Book, who is already in the NFL, and the freshmen Drew Pyne and Tyler Buchner. Coan is comparable to Book in that he will be able to control the game, will not be showy, and will not make many errors.
He’ll give Notre Dame a chance to win this season while also giving the young quarterbacks on the team a year of experience.
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