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College Football's Top 10 True Freshmen Quarterbacks to Watch in 2022

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney could have a true freshman under center this fall with No. 1 QB recruit Cade Klubnik set to compete with D.J. Uiagalelei for the starting job

Quarterback play is always under the spotlight in college football, and with National Signing Day in the books, it’s never too early to examine which true freshmen will have a chance to play right away this season.

Related: College Football's Top 20 Impact True Freshmen for 2022

With the transfer portal and spring practice still to come, this list could look a little different by August. However, some names already stand out as potential starters in '22. Cade Klubnik seems primed to push for the starting nod at Clemson, while Sam Horn (Missouri) and Nicco Marchiol (West Virginia) are two other names expected to do the same at programs likely outside of the top 25 this fall. Texas A&M's Conner Weigman and Penn State's Drew Allar potentially face long odds to start due to experience ahead of them, but neither should be ignored in the quarterback battle this offseason.

Which true freshmen quarterbacks could play a significant role or start for their team in 2022? Here are 10 to watch, plus a few wild card names to remember and prospects to file away for '23:

10 True Freshmen Quarterbacks to Watch in 2022

Drew Allar, Penn State
Sean Clifford returns as Penn State’s No. 1 quarterback after throwing for 3,107 yards and 21 touchdowns to eight interceptions in 2021. However, Allar may simply be too good to keep on the sidelines all year. The Ohio native threw for 9,103 yards and 98 scores in his high school career and was named the 2021 Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Mr. Football and claimed Max Preps Ohio Player of the Year honors. Allar ranked as the No. 32 overall prospect by the 247Sports Composite and as the No. 4 quarterback. He has the high-level talent to be a big-time difference-maker in the Big Ten for the Nittany Lions.

Holden Geriner, Auburn
Bo Nix transferred to Oregon, leaving a wide-open battle on the Plains to start in 2022. The Tigers have two former SEC starting quarterbacks (TJ Finley and Zach Calzada) and redshirt freshman Dematrius Davis likely ahead of Geriner in the mix for snaps in 2022. But the Georgia native can’t be discounted from the battle, as he joins the team after ranking as one of the top prospects in Auburn’s ’22 class. Geriner threw for 3,377 yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior and concluded his career with more than 7,000 yards and 70 passing scores at Benedictine Military School.

Chase Harrison/Cole Pennington, Marshall
Grant Wells transferred to Virginia Tech, leaving a void under center for the Thundering Herd going into 2022. However, coach Charles Huff and new coordinator Clint Trickett won’t lack for options. Luke Zban returns after playing in seven games, Texas Tech transfer Henry Colombi was added to the mix, and Harrison and Pennington are two intriguing prospects for the staff to develop for ’22 and beyond. Harrison arrives in Huntington after throwing for 2,668 yards and 30 scores in Ohio and was the higher-ranked prospect per the 247Sports Composite (No. 60 QB to No. 89). Pennington is the son of former Marshall standout Chad Pennington.

Sam Horn, Missouri
With Connor Bazelak transferring to Indiana, and Missouri’s offense looking for improvement after averaging only 22.6 points a game in SEC matchups in 2021, it’s a wide-open battle to start under center for the Tigers in ’22. Brady Cook and Tyler Macon gained valuable reps last year, but Horn is the one to watch this offseason. The Georgia native (and two-sport standout) threw for 3,708 yards and 35 touchdowns and ran for 573 yards as a high school senior. Accuracy was a strength for Horn too, as he connected on better than 70 percent of his throws last year. Horn won’t arrive in time to compete in spring practice, but the fall workouts should give him plenty of opportunities to push Macon and Cook.

Walker Howard, LSU
Keeping Howard as part of the 2022 signing class was a big win for coach Brian Kelly in his first haul at LSU. The Louisiana native won numerous awards at St. Thomas More High School, including the 2020 Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year after throwing for 3,430 yards and 42 touchdowns. Howard would seemingly be set to enter ’22 as the No. 3 quarterback. Myles Brennan is the early favorite to start next fall, with redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier up next. Although there’s ground to make up, the four-star prospect deserves a mention here as he could make a quick impression this offseason.

Cade Klubnik, Clemson
DJ Uiagalelei will open spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback, but after an up-and-down 2021 season, Klubnik’s development is a storyline to watch at Clemson. The Texas native threw for more than 7,000 yards and 80 touchdowns and added another 1,000-plus yards on the ground in his high school career. Klubnik was the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the 247Sports Composite and is set to enroll in time to compete in spring practice.

Nicco Marchiol, West Virginia
West Virginia’s offense is likely to look a lot different in 2022, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering coach Neal Brown’s group averaged only 22.8 points a game in Big 12 matchups last year. Former USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and his Air Raid background was hired to handle the play-calling duties in Morgantown. Additionally, Jarret Doege – the Mountaineers ’21 starting quarterback – transferred to WKU. Doege’s departure doesn’t leave much in the way of experience under center, as backups Garrett Greene and Will Crowder combined for just 28 attempts last fall. Marchiol – a four-star prospect from Arizona – is a good fit for Harrell’s attack after throwing for 8,310 yards and 91 scores at the high school level. Also, Marchiol enrolled in time to compete in spring practice. West Virginia could pursue a transfer here, but if one doesn’t arrive, Marchiol’s arm and skill set might be the best of the three quarterbacks on the roster.

Maalik Murphy, Texas
The quarterback room in Austin got a lot more talented with the arrival of Quinn Ewers (a transfer from Ohio State) and Murphy (a high school product from California) this offseason. Ewers is regarded as the front-runner to start in 2022, but Murphy enrolled in time to compete this spring and will have every opportunity to win the job. Murphy ranked as a four-star recruit by the 247Sports Composite and ended his high school career by throwing for 2,954 yards and 22 touchdowns in ’21.

Conner Weigman, Texas A&M
Weigman faces a bit of an uphill battle to get on the field right away in College Station. However, the five-star prospect can’t be dismissed from the starting mix. Although the Texas native is ultra-talented, the Aggies aren’t necessarily hurting at this position. Haynes King returns after he missed most of ’21 due to injury, and LSU transfer Max Johnson joins the team this offseason. Weigman had a prolific career at Cypress Bridgeland High School but how fast he can pick up on coach Jimbo Fisher’s offense will play a major role in whether or not he can factor into the competition this fall.

Three Wild Card Options to Watch

Myles Burkett, Wisconsin
The Badgers were reportedly in the mix for Caleb Williams before he transferred to USC. Although Graham Mertz is the returning starter, he’s had an up-and-down start to his career in Madison. If Mertz starts slow in ‘22, could Burkett fight for snaps as a true freshman?

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AJ Duffy, Florida State
Duffy figures to be the future for Florida State’s offense under coach Mike Norvell, but Jordan Travis is entrenched as the starter going into 2022. If Travis has to miss any extended time due to injury, Duffy could get a look over Tate Rodemaker for snaps.

Nick Evers, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s quarterback room was hit hard by transfers this offseason. Spencer Rattler departed for South Carolina, and Caleb Williams joined former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley at USC. The new Sooner staff used the portal to land a starter (Dillon Gabriel from UCF), but depth behind him is thin. If Gabriel has to miss major time this year, Evers could get the call as the starter.

Group of 5 Names to Watch

Treyson Bourguet, Western Michigan
Kaden Cobb, Ball State
Dijon Jennings, Akron
Devin Kargman, Kent State
Jackson Stratton, Colorado State
Caden Veltkamp, WKU

File Away for 2023

Brady Allen, Purdue
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 170 Overall; No. 10 QB

Four-star Indiana native should be the favorite to fill the shoes of a departing Aidan O’Connell in ’23.

Devin Brown, Ohio State
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 43 Overall; No. 6 QB

C.J. Stroud is entrenched as Ohio State’s starter in 2022. If he leaves Columbus for the NFL next year, Brown and Kyle McCord would be up next to battle for snaps for coach Ryan Day.

Tayven Jackson, Tennessee
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 205 Overall; No. 13 QB

Could Jackson be the favorite to replace Hendon Hooker in 2023?

Justyn Martin, UCLA
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 285 Overall; No. 20 QB

The 2021 season marks the final year of eligibility for Dorian Thompson-Robinson at UCLA.

Ty Simpson, Alabama
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 26 Overall; No. 3 QB

If Bryce Young opts for the NFL after the 2022 college football season, Simpson would be near the top of potential replacements for him in ’23.

Gunner Stockton, Georgia
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 124 Overall; No. 7 QB

Stetson Bennett opted to return for 2022, but with JT Daniels transferring, the backup spot is wide open in Athens. Former five-star prospect Brock Vandagriff and Stockton are the front-runners to take the first snap in ’23.

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