Miami went all the way to the West Coast to find starting quarterback and California native Brad Kaaya
Another college football season, another set of quarterbacks leaving campus due to graduation, to chase NFL stardom, or transferring in order to find more playing time elsewhere.
With stars like Jared Goff, Dak Prescott, Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg and a total of more than 20 starters from Power 5 conference teams leaving college football, a new batch of signal-callers is set to fill their shoes.
But, where did those players come from?
Around this time last season, Athlon Sports projected the starting quarterbacks for every Power 5 program (schools in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC), in addition to Notre Dame and BYU, and found that they hailed from 26 different states. That number has increased to 28 this season, though three big states dominate the quarterback landscape.
The Big Three Reigns Supreme
It should come as no shock that Texas, California and Florida have produced the most quarterbacks in college football, as all three have a long history of generating many of the game’s greatest players. And, schools from all across the country flock to each state in hopes of landing a prized quarterback recruit.
Five Texas programs are expected to start quarterbacks that attended high school in the state, but Oklahoma, West Virginia, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue and Oregon have all dipped into the Lone Star State for their projected signal-caller too. As for the Ducks, Texas native Dakota Prukop started at FCS program Montana State before moving on to Eugene as a graduate transfer.
Only three of the 10 projected Power 5 starters from California stayed close to home, while players like Miami’s Brad Kaaya, Alabama’s Blake Barnett, Indiana’s Zander Diamont and Wisconsin’s Bart Houston rank among the quarterbacks that have made the 10 longest journeys to their destinations (see chart below).
Interestingly enough, all eight quarterbacks from the state of Florida expected to start for Power 5 programs in 2016 will do so out of state, including those that traveled far from home like Michigan’s John O’Korn and Pitt’s Nathan Peterman – both of whom transferred from other out-of-state schools (Houston and Tennessee, respectively).
Florida, Florida State and Miami each traveled more than 1,000 miles to find their quarterbacks – and in some cases, the players themselves traveled much, much farther. Luke Del Rio has the inside track to unseat Treon Harris as the starting QB for the Gators in 2016. Though Del Rio was actually born in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., he attended high school in Littleton, Colo., just outside of Denver. But Del Rio’s journey was even longer as he originally signed with Alabama out of high school, then transferred to Oregon State before finally making it to Gainesville.
The rival Seminoles and Hurricanes also went out of state for their starters, which is quite common for both programs.
Georgia on the Decline, While Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington Rise
Last year, California and Texas shared the national lead with 10 quarterbacks apiece among Power 5 conference starters. Looking ahead to the 2016 campaign, the Lone Star State took a slight lead with 11 – one more than California. Florida, which tied Georgia for third on this list last season (6), has seen its QB pipeline tally increase to eight looking ahead to the 2016 campaign.
Meanwhile, Georgia now has only three projected starters, which is the largest decrease compared to 2015, but the Peach State can still lay claim to Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is arguably the best quarterback, if not player, in the country. But, Georgia’s overall emergence as a QB hotbed took a hit, and the state is now tied with longtime producers Pennsylvania (which was shutout this time last year), and Ohio, as well as newcomer Washington – which, remarkably, produced Georgia’s projected starter, true freshman Jacob Eason. Washington also is the home of USC’s projected starter, Max Browne – an oddity given the Trojans’ location in the fertile recruiting grounds of Southern California.
Musical Chairs in the Pac-12
Each state in the Pac-12 footprint – Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington – has produced a quarterback expected to start for a Power 5 program. In the Pac-12 specifically, starters hail from Arizona, California, Utah and Washington – but they didn’t end up exactly where one might think.
Cal, Stanford, and UCLA all stuck close to home for their signal-callers, though USC’s Browne is some 1,153 miles from his Sammamish, Wash., home. Another Washington native, Sefo Liufau, ended up more than 1,000 miles away in Boulder playing for Colorado. As luck would have it, Washington and Washington State found their signal-callers in California (Jake Browning) and Utah (Luke Falk), respectively.
The Utes also found a quarterback in California (though Troy Williams attended junior college in Texas before heading to Salt Lake City), as did Arizona State, which plucked Manny Wilkins from Novato.
As for Oregon, the state produced Syracuse’s Eric Dungey, but the Ducks found new quarterback in Texas native Dakota Prukop, following a three-year stint at Montana State. As for rival Oregon State, Darell Garretson is an Arizona native, though the Wildcats’ top QB, Anu Solomon, hails from Las Vegas.
From Longest to Shortest
Former Stanford starter Kevin Hogan led the way on this last season for the longest journey from high school to college. The distance between McLean, Va., to Stanford’s West Coast campus is a lengthy 2,788 miles. This year, things are very different for the Cardinal.
With Hogan out of eligibility, Stanford’s front-runner to start under center is Keller Chryst, a 6-foot-5, 233-pound rising junior that completed five of nine passes last season for 59 yards and a touchdown. Chryst is a native of Palo Alto, Calif., the home of Stanford University.
10 Farthest Away From Home
|Eric Dungey||2,791||Lake Oswego, OR|
|Jacob Eason||2,726||Lake Stevens, WA|
|Brad Kaaya||2,718||West Hills, CA|
|Dakota Prukop||2,233||Austin, TX|
|Bart Houston||2,092||Dublin, CA|
|Zander Diamont||2,048||Los Angeles|
|Blake Barnett||1,987||Corona, CA|
|Luke Del Rio||1,752||Littleton, CO|
|John O’Korn||1,350||Ft. Lauderdale, FL|
|Sefo Liufau||1,284||Tacoma, WA|
Other Hometown Heroes
Chryst isn’t the only hometown hero slated to be a starting quarterback in 2016. Arkansas is expected to replace Fayetteville native Brandon Allen with his younger brother Austin, who has been No. 2 on the depth chart for two seasons. However, should Californian (Thousand Oaks) and former USC Trojan Ricky Town beat out Allen, the Hogs would have recruited a starter from 1,597 miles away.
At TCU, Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill has a great shot to replace Treyvone Boykin as the starter for the Horned Frogs. Hill, a Southlake native (25 miles from Fort Worth), will face competition from Foster Sawyer – a Fort Worth local.
Elsewhere, UCLA QB Josh Rosen’s Manhattan Beach home is roughly 16 miles from Westwood, and both Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner (Lakeville) and Iowa State’s Joel Lanning (Ankeny) can be back home in less than a half hour, depending on traffic.
10 Closest to Home
|Austin Allen||0||Fayetteville, AR|
|Keller Chryst||0||Palo Alto, CA|
|Josh Rosen||16||Manhattan Beach, CA|
|Kenny Hill||25||Southlake, TX|
|Mitch Leidner||25||Lakeville, MN|
|Joel Lanning||27||Ankeny, IA|
|Clayton Thorson||35||Wheaton, IL|
|Ryan Willis||37||Overland Park, KS|
|Chris Laviano||70||Glen Head, NY|
|Drew Barker||76||Burlington, KY|
Projected 2016 Power 5 Conference*
Starting QBs by State
|Texas||11||Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Seth Russell (Baylor), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), Tommy Armstrong (Nebraska), Trevor Knight (Texas A&M), Kenny Hill (TCU), Jerrod Heard (Texas), Skyler Howard (West Virginia), David Blough (Purdue), Dakota Prukop (Oregon)|
|California||10||Josh Rosen (UCLA), Brad Kaaya (Miami), Jake Browning (Washington), Blake Barnett (Alabama), Keller Chryst (Stanford), Chase Forrest (Cal), Zander Diamont (Indiana), Bart Houston (Wisconsin), Troy Williams (Utah), Manny Wilkins (Arizona State)|
|Florida||8||Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Thomas Sirk (Duke), Nathan Peterman (Pitt), John Franklin III (Auburn), John O’Korn (Michigan), Perry Orth (South Carolina), John Wolford (Wake Forest), Dwayne Lawson (Virginia Tech)|
|Georgia||3||Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee), Elijah Staley (Mississippi State)|
|Ohio||3||Malik Zaire (Notre Dame), Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina), Tyler O’Connor (Michigan State)|
|Pennsylvania||3||Matt Johns (Virginia), Perry Hills (Maryland), Kyle Shurmur (Vanderbilt)|
|Washington||3||Jacob Eason (Georgia), Max Browne (USC), Sefo Liufau (Colorado)|
|Illinois||2||Wes Lunt (Illinois), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern)|
|Iowa||2||Joel Lanning (Iowa State), Jesse Ertz (Kansas State)|
|Kentucky||2||Drew Barker, (Kentucky), Patrick Towles (Boston College)|
|New York||2||Chad Kelly (Ole Miss), Chris Laviano (Rutgers)|
|Alabama||1||Justin Thomas (Georgia Tech)|
|Arkansas||1||Austin Allen (Arkansas)|
|Arizona||1||Darell Garretson (Oregon State)|
|Colorado||1||Luke Del Rio (Florida)|
|Idaho||1||Tanner Mangum (BYU)|
|Kansas||1||Ryan Willis (Kansas)|
|Louisiana||1||Brandon Harris (LSU)|
|Minnesota||1||Mitch Leidner (Minnesota)|
|Missouri||1||Drew Lock (Missouri)|
|Nevada||1||Anu Solomon (Arizona)|
|New Jersey||1||Sean Maguire (Florida State)|
|North Carolina||1||Jalan McClendon (NC State)|
|Oregon||1||Eric Dungey (Syracuse)|
|South Carolina||1||Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)|
|Tennessee||1||C.J. Beathard (Iowa)|
|Utah||1||Luke Falk (Washington State)|
|Virginia||1||Trace McSorley (Penn State)|
*List also includes BYU and Notre Dame
— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Allen's work on college football can also be found on SaturdayBlitz.com and FanSided.com. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.