Which incoming freshmen QBs could make an impact in 2018?
With National Signing Day in the books, the focus for the 2018 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. And thanks to the early signing period, most players and coaching staffs had an earlier breakdown of how their depth chart looked for the upcoming year. Enrolling early has its advantages for incoming freshmen, and a couple of prospects could make an impact at quarterback in 2018. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Georgia's Justin Fields, Washington State's Cammon Cooper, USC's JT Daniels and Nebraska's Adrian Martinez are just a few names to watch from the true freshmen ranks at quarterback for 2018.
Which quarterbacks could play a significant role or start for their team in 2018? Here are 15 to watch:
College Football's Top 15 Impact True Freshmen QBs for 2018
Holton Ahlers, East Carolina
Gardner Minshew’s decision to leave East Carolina as a graduate transfer leaves the cupboard at quarterback a little bare for coach Scottie Montgomery. The Pirates have a couple of options vying for snaps, with Ahlers checking in as the most intriguing quarterback in spring ball. The early enrollee from North Carolina ranked as a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. During his high school career, Ahlers threw for 11,198 yards and accounted for 201 total touchdowns.
Carter Bradley, Toledo
The Rockets’ high-powered offense is looking for a new signal-caller after Logan Woodside finished his career by leading Toledo to a MAC Championship in 2017. Coach Jason Candle has a couple of options at his disposal, including junior Mitchell Guadagni (16 passing yards last fall). While Guadagni holds the edge in experience, the name to watch this offseason is Bradley. The three-star recruit participated in the Elite 11 workouts prior to the 2017 season and is also the son of NFL assistant Gus Bradley.
Cammon Cooper, Washington State
Following Luke Falk’s graduation and the tragic passing of Tyler Hilinski, uncertainty surrounds Washington State’s quarterback situation for 2018. None of the quarterbacks on the roster entering spring ball for coach Mike Leach have yet to attempt a pass in a FBS game. That’s why Cooper – a three-star recruit from Utah – could see playing time right away. Cooper set a handful of state records during his high school career, which include touchdown passes (118) and single-season passing yards (4,726). Cooper threw for 4,726 yards and 58 touchdowns as a high school senior.
JT Daniels, USC
Daniels might be the most interesting quarterback prospect of the 2018 signing class. After all, he was a late addition to the ranks after graduating a year early and reclassifying into 2018 class. The California native was regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2019 class before reclassifying, and despite not playing as a high school senior, he should push for snaps this offseason. Daniels is regarded as a five-star prospect and the No. 3 quarterback recruit for the 2018 class and finished his high school career by throwing for 4,123 yards and 52 touchdowns. Daniels will compete with redshirt freshman Jack Sears and sophomore Matt Fink.
Justin Fields, Georgia
Unseating Jake Fromm isn’t going to be easy, but even if Fields doesn’t win the starting job, he’s likely to have a role in the offense in 2018. The Georgia native ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the 247Sports Composite and was considered No. 1 by ESPN. As evidenced by his 2,096 rushing yards and 28 scores on the ground in two years as the starter, Fields brings more mobility than Fromm to the offense. In addition to his ability to move in the pocket and make plays with his legs, Fields threw for 4,187 yards and 41 touchdowns as a starter in high school.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Even though Clemson has a proven starter back at quarterback, Lawrence may simply be too talented to keep on the sidelines. The Georgia native ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite after throwing for 13,908 yards and 161 touchdowns during his high school career. The 6-foot-5 freshman will compete in spring practice after enrolling in January.
Emory Jones, Florida
New coach Dan Mullen is one of the SEC’s top minds on offense. Florida has struggled to find answers on this side of the ball in recent years, but help is on the way with Mullen at the controls. Additionally, Jones should be an impact addition from the 2018 signing class. The Georgia native was considered a four-star recruit by the 247Sports Composite and ranked as the No. 9 quarterback. Jones’ dual-threat ability is a good fit for Mullen’s scheme, and he enrolled in time to participate in spring ball.
Phil Jurkovec, Notre Dame
Jurkovec doesn’t have a clear path to the starting job with Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush returning in 2018, but it may be difficult for coach Brian Kelly to keep the freshman on the sidelines. The Pennsylvania native ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 8 quarterback prospect by the 247Sports Composite for the 2018 signing class. During Jurkovec’s high school career, he threw for 8,202 yards and 71 touchdowns. Also, Jurkovec showcased his mobility by rushing for 1,211 yards and 24 scores during his senior year.
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
New coach Scott Frost isn’t afraid to turn to a freshman at quarterback. After all, he handed the keys to a freshman (McKenzie Milton) during his first year at UCF. Frost could follow a similar path in 2018 in Lincoln, as Martinez arrives from high school set to compete for the starting job. The true freshman seems to be the best fit of the Nebraska quarterbacks on the roster for Frost’s offense going into the 2018 season. The California native ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 12 overall quarterback by the 247Sports Composite. He also enrolled in time to participate in spring ball and will have to knock off some rust this offseason after not playing in his senior year of high school due to injury. Martinez threw for 2,562 yards and 25 touchdowns and ran for 1,462 yards and 14 scores as a junior in 2016.
MJ Rivers/Coran Taylor, Illinois
Illinois inked three quarterbacks in its 2018 signing class, further emphasizing how big of a need this position is for coach Lovie Smith. In 2017, the Fighting Illini threw for only eight touchdowns to 19 interceptions and completed just 48.6 percent of passes in Big Ten matchups. Both Rivers and Taylor ranked as three-star prospects by the 247Sports Composite and are likely to battle sophomore Cam Thomas for the starting job this offseason. Rivers could have an edge over Taylor and fellow incoming freshman Matt Robinson, as he enrolled in time to compete for spring ball. Both Rivers and Taylor bring a dual-threat element to the offense, which should be a valuable asset under new play-caller Rod Smith.
Justin Rogers, TCU
TCU enters offseason workouts with uncertainty at quarterback after Kenny Hill finished his eligibility. Sophomore Shawn Robinson is the favorite to replace Hill after playing in six games (with one start) and completing 13 of 27 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns last fall. Rogers enrolled in time to participate in spring workouts but could be limited as he continues to recover from an injury suffered early in the 2017 high school season. The Louisiana native threw for 2,646 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 566 yards and nine scores as a junior in 2016. He ranked as a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite and will push Robinson when at full strength.
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State
With Mason Rudolph finishing his eligibility in Stillwater, coach Mike Gundy’s offense will have a new signal-caller in 2018. The addition of Hawaii graduate transfer Dru Brown has added even more names to the mix this offseason, but Sanders is expected to get a shot at the starting job. The Texas native finished his high school career by throwing for 3,845 yards and 54 touchdowns and adding 1,380 yards and 16 scores on the ground. Sanders ranked as the No. 15 overall quarterback and a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite.
Artur Sitkowski, Rutgers
Sitkowski flipped from Miami to Rutgers in early November and has a chance to start right away for coach Chris Ash. The New Jersey native ranked as a three-star recruit and the No. 34 quarterback prospect in the 2018 signing class. Sitkowski played at Old Bridge High School for the first three years of his high school career and spent 2017 at IMG Academy in Florida. During his senior year with IMG, Sitkowski threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns. New play-caller John McNulty will be tasked with helping Sitkowski take a big step forward in his development this spring.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
Thompson-Robinson was the biggest catch of new coach Chip Kelly’s first class at UCLA. The Las Vegas native arrives in Westwood after a standout senior year at Bishop Gorman High School. Thompson-Robinson threw for 3,275 yards and 38 scores and added 426 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. The incoming freshman’s mobility is a good fit for Kelly’s offense, and he should have a chance to compete for the starting job this offseason against Washington graduate transfer K.J. Carta-Samuels and sophomore Devon Modster.
Others True Freshmen QBs to Watch for 2018
Brennan Armstrong, Virginia
Octavious Battle/Jordan McCloud, USF
Davis Brin, Tulsa
Joe Milton, Michigan
Connor Noland, Arkansas
Kevaris Thomas, WKU