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Where Did College Football Teams Find Their Starting Quarterbacks for 2017?

Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts

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As college football programs sign new future star quarterbacks while faces we became familiar with move on to the NFL, it is time to figure out just where all of this talent comes from.

For the third year in a row, Athlon Sports has tracked the roots of every projected starting quarterback for the upcoming season in the Power Five conferences, along with BYU and Notre Dame.

In 2015, there were 26 states that produced these QBs. Last year that number grew to 28. This year, it’s back to 26 states.

Some results are surprising. Others, less so.

It’s Texas, then the other big two, then everyone else

We often hear Texas, California and Florida grouped together as the “Big Three” when it comes to producing football talent. And while those three once again lead the way in this project, you could make the case for a Big One: Texas.

The Lone Star State has produced 13 quarterbacks who are expected to start at college football’s highest level in 2017. Five of those 13 QBs have stayed in state, but most of the players making names for themselves elsewhere are certainly familiar faces to college football fans everywhere, from Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield to Alabama’s Jalen Hurts.

California eked past Florida for the No. 2 spot, producing seven expected starters to the Sunshine State’s six. But the distribution between the two states could not be any more different: All seven of those California QBs are in the Pac-12, while Florida has signal-callers in all each of the Power Five conferences.

From those two states, only Cal, Miami and Stanford have gone elsewhere for their expected starter under center.

Some surprise risers

Alabama may have made it to the national title game with a true freshman QB, but the Crimson Tide’s signal-caller, Jalen Hurts, was from Texas.

Why is that a bit of a surprise? Because Alabama actually finished fourth this year in numbers of expected starting QBs produced, with four: Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Matthew Jordan (Georgia Tech), Tyrell Pigrome (Maryland) and Malik Rosier (Miami). That is an improvement of three from a year ago, when the state had just one QB: Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas.

Like Alabama, Washington made the College Football Playoff last year with an out-of-state QB. And, like ‘Bama, this is mildly surprising considering the QB talent in its backyard: Washington — just like it did in this project last year — is expected to have three starting QBs among Power Five teams in 2017: Ross Bowers (Cal), Max Browne (Pitt), Jacob Eason (Georgia).

Elsewhere, ACC country is quite the QB hotbed, with North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia each producing three expected starters as well.

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Cross-country signal-callers

Stanford QB Kevin Hogan held the distinction of playing his college ball the farthest from home two years ago, having come from McLean, Va., and it’s yet another Virginia-bred Cardinal QB leading the way this time in Ryan Burns.

Last year’s top two, Eric Dungey and Jacob Eason, are at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, while Pitt’s Max Browne and NC State’s Ryan Finely also find themselves more than 2,000 miles away from home. (Both players transferred, from USC and Boise State, respectively.)


10 Farthest From Home

Quarterback

School

Miles

Hometown

Ryan Burns

2,803

Stone Bridge, VA

Eric Dungey

2,791

Lake Oswego, OR

Jacob Eason

2,726

Lake Stevens, WA

Max Browne

2,521

Sammamish, WA

Ryan Finley

2,171

Phoenix, AZ

Brian Lewerke

1,944

Phoenix, AZ

Peyton Bender

1,487

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Jacob Park 

1,214

Charleston, SC

Mason Rudolph

1,088

Rock Hill, SC

Dwayne Lawson

1,073

Tampa, FL

Thanks for playing, Georgia, Ohio... and New York?

Last year’s project had eight expected starting QBs from the states of Georgia, Ohio and New York. The first two names are known prep hotbeds, so that is not too surprising. But New York getting two Power Five starters most certainly was.

No surprises this time, as New York has zero this year. Even more surprising is the fact Georgia and Ohio have combined for just one: Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald.

Of course, the projected top three QBs in this year’s draft are all from those two states: DeShone Kizer (Ohio), Mitch Trubisky (Ohio) and Deshaun Watson (Georgia). So things aren’t too bad for those states.

Hometown heroes

Austin Allen is a Fayetteville native, so he is no stranger to the University of Arkansas, where his older brother, Brandon, played, and where his father, Bobby, is the Razorbacks’ director of high school and NFL relations. Likewise, Justin Herbert is in all too familiar territory in Eugene, as the University of Oregon’s quarterback became the Ducks’ first true freshman starter in 33 years.

Elsewhere, Manhattan Beach native Josh Rosen is hoping his third year in Westwood as UCLA’s starter is the year he can restore the Bruins to the class of the Pac-12, while rival USC is banking on Capistrano Beach product Sam Darnold to deliver a Playoff bid.

Not surprisingly, Texas schools are also heavy on local talent at QB, with Southlake native Kenny Hilly at TCU and Grandview product Zach Smith hoping to make head coach Matt Rhule’s first year at Baylor a successful one.

10 Closest to Home

Quarterback

School

Miles

Hometown

Austin Allen

0

Fayetteville, AR

Justin Herbert

0

Eugene, OR

Josh Rosen

16

Manhattan Beach, CA

Kenny Hill

25

Southlake, TX

Clayton Thorson

35

Wheaton, IL

Kelly Bryant

49

Calhoun Falls, SC

Zach Smith

52

Grandview, TX

Sam Darnold

63

Capistrano Beach, CA

Drew Barker

76

Burlington, KY

Drew Lock

124

Lee’s Summit, MO

Projected 2017 Power Five Conference*
Starting QBs by State

State

No.

Quarterbacks

Texas

13

J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), David Blough (Purdue), Shane Buechele (Texas), Quinten Dormady (Tennessee), Kenny Hill (TCU), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Richard Lagow (Indiana), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Steven Montez (Colorado), Nic Shimonek (Texas Tech), Zach Smith (Baylor), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)

California

7

Blake Barnett (Arizona State), Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Brandon Dawkins (Arizona), Marcus McMaryion (Oregon State), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Troy Williams (Utah)

Florida

6

Peyton Bender (Kansas), Deondre Francois (Florida State), Feleipe Franks (Florida), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Dwayne Lawson (Illinois), John Wolford (Wake Forest)

Alabama

4

Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Matthew Jordan (Georgia Tech), Tyrell Pigrome (Maryland), Malik Rosier (Miami)

North Carolina

3

Will Grier (West Virginia), Daniel Jones (Duke), Chazz Surratt (North Carolina)

South Carolina

3

Jacob Park (Iowa State), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Kelly Bryant (Clemson)

Virginia

3

Ryan Burns (Stanford), Trace McSorley (Penn State), Wilton Speight (Michigan)

Washington

3

Ross Bowers (Cal), Max Browne (Pitt), Jacob Eason (Georgia)

Arizona

2

Ryan Finley (NC State), Brian Lewerke (Michigan State)

Illinois

2

Demry Kroft (Minnesota), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern)

Louisiana

2

Tanner Lee (Nebraska), Shea Patterson (Ole Miss)

Michigan

2

Josh Jackson (Virginia Tech), Giovanni Rescigno (Rutgers)

Pennsylvania

2

Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin), Kyle Shurmur (Vanderbilt)

Oregon

2

Eric Dungey (Syracuse), Justin Herbert (Oregon)

Arkansas

1

Austin Allen (Arkansas)

Delaware

1

Darius Wade (Boston College)

Georgia

1

Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State)

Idaho

1

Tanner Mangum (BYU)

Indiana

1

Danny Etling (LSU)

Iowa

1

Jesse Ertz (Kansas State)

Kentucky

1

Drew Barker (Kentucky)

Maryland

1

Kurt Benkert (Virginia)

Missouri

1

Drew Lock (Missouri)

New Jersey

1

Brandon Wimbush (Notre Dame) 

Utah

1

Luke Falk (Washington State)

Wisconsin

1

Nathan Stanley (Iowa)

*List also includes BYU and Notre Dame

— Written by Matt Fortuna, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and spent six seasons covering college football for ESPN.com. Fortuna’s work has been honored by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) seven times. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Fortuna and like his Facebook page.