Which incoming freshmen QBs could make an impact in 2017?
With National Signing Day in the books, the focus for the 2017 college football season shifts to spring practices and upcoming offseason workouts. While most freshmen won’t arrive until the summer, a handful of incoming recruits already hit campus prior to spring ball. Enrolling early has its advantages for incoming freshmen, and a couple of prospects could make an impact at quarterback in 2017. LSU’s Lowell Narcisse, Virginia Tech’s Hendon Hooker, Clemson’s Hunter Johnson and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond are just a couple of quarterbacks enrolled in time to compete in spring ball. A handful of other quarterbacks didn’t arrive in the spring but will also have a chance to compete for the job in the summer and over the fall.
Which quarterbacks could play a significant role or start for their team in 2017? Here are 10 to watch:
CFB's Top 10 Impact True Freshmen Quarterbacks for 2017
Myles Brennan/Lowell Narcisse, LSU
Improving the offense – especially the passing game – is the top priority for coach Ed Orgeron in his first full season. The addition of Matt Canada as the program’s new play-caller was a key hire that should pay dividends in 2017. Danny Etling (11 TDs, 5 INTs) finished 2016 as the starter, but will be pushed this offseason by Brandon Harris and two freshmen – Lowell Narcisse and Myles Brennan. The two freshmen each bring a different element to the offense. Narcisse is a dual-threat option, while Brennan is a pocket passer. Narcisse has a head start on the competition after enrolling at LSU prior to the spring semester. Despite missing most of the last two seasons in high school due to injury, the Louisiana native ranked as a four-star recruit by the 247Sports Composite. Brennan also ranked as a four-star prospect and finished his high school career in Mississippi by throwing for 15,138 yards and 166 touchdowns.
Kasim Hill, Maryland
Sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome and North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson are the likely favorites to replace 2016 starter Perry Hills when Maryland opens practice this spring. However, Hill will be a name to watch once he arrives on campus in the summer. The Washington, D.C. native ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 240 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite. Hill closed out his high school career by throwing for 1,431 yards and 16 scores and adding 885 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He was also named the 2017 Washington, D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year.
Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech
After a prolific 2016 season, Jerod Evans left Blacksburg after his only year on campus for the NFL. The cupboard is far from bare for coach Justin Fuente, as redshirt freshman Joshua Jackson enters spring ball as the starter, with junior college prospect A.J. Bush and talented true freshman Hendon Hooker also competing for time. Hooker ranked as a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite and enrolled in time to compete in spring practice. Hooker recorded 9,002 yards of total offense and 103 overall scores during his career at Dudley High School in North Carolina.
Hunter Johnson, Clemson
Replacing Deshaun Watson is no easy task for coach Dabo Swinney, but the Tigers have recruited well at the quarterback position. Kelly Bryant is slated to open spring ball as the No. 1 quarterback, with Zerrick Cooper likely slotted into the No. 2 role. However, Johnson will be afforded an opportunity to win the starting job. Johnson ranked as a five-star prospect and the No. 30 overall player in the 247Sports Composite and arrives on campus after throwing for 2,233 yards and 25 scores as a senior. Johnson is already on campus and will compete in spring practice.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Texas A&M’s quarterback situation will be one of the most intriguing to watch in spring practice this offseason. Jake Hubenak is the team’s most-experienced option, but redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and Mond will compete for the job. Mond ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 108 player in the 247Sports Composite for the 2017 signing class and enrolled in time to compete in spring ball. Mond threw for 1,936 yards and 20 scores and added 775 yards and 18 touchdowns at IMG Academy in 2016.
N’Kosi Perry/Cade Weldon, Miami
Brad Kaaya leaves big shoes to fill in Coral Gables, and a wide-open battle is set to unfold this offseason. Coach Mark Richt is one of the top quarterback gurus in the ACC and could turn to a freshman to handle the controls of the offense. Malik Rosier is the team’s most experienced option, but redshirt freshman Jack Allison, sophomore Evan Shirreffs and two true freshman – N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon – will be in the mix. Weldon ranked as a three-star recruit and enrolled in time to compete for spring practice. Perry was a four-star recruit and ranked No. 193 overall in the 247Sports Composite. He won’t arrive on campus until summer. Perry brings more of a dual-threat element to the offense, while Weldon is more of a pro-style passer.
Shawn Robinson, TCU
TCU’s offense is looking to get back on track after an up-and-down 2016 season. After averaging over 40 points a game from 2015-16, the Horned Frogs slipped to eighth in the Big 12 in scoring offense, averaging 31 points per game. Coordinator Sonny Cumbie takes over the play-calling duties after Doug Meacham left for Kansas but don’t expect a dramatic shift in scheme. Kenny Hill returns as the No. 1 option after throwing for 3,208 yards and 17 scores and adding 609 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Hill needs to cut down on the interceptions (13) and play with more consistency in Big 12 games. Robinson is poised to push Hill after enrolling early following a standout career at DeSoto High School. The Texas native was the 2016-17 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year and accounted for 4,855 total yards and 37 overall scores as a high school senior.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Jalen Hurts is entrenched as Alabama’s No. 1 quarterback after a standout freshman season, but Alabama may need Tagovailoa to play right away. Depth behind Hurts is an issue after the transfers of Blake Barnett, David Cornwell and Cooper Bateman during the 2016 season. Tagovailoa was regarded as the No. 3 quarterback in the 247Sports Composite and also rated as a five-star recruit. The Hawaii native went to the same high school as Oregon standout Marcus Mariota and accumulated 3,932 passing yards and 43 scores, while also adding 1,727 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground in 2016. Tagovailoa is a more advanced passing prospect than Hurts was coming out of high school.