Sam Ehlinger leads Texas' contingent of 10 starting signal-callers with four of them staying in the Lone Star State
If one word could be used to describe the college football quarterback landscape it would be — change. The annual quarterback churn is in full effect as the combination of graduations, early departures by underclassmen, and a rash of transfers means that for the second straight season nearly two thirds of the projected starting quarterbacks in the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) along will be new compared to this time last year.
Yes, Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and finalist Dwayne Haskins have decided to move on, while several multi-year starters have exhausted their eligibility including Jake Browning, Eric Dungey, Ryan Finley, and Clayton Thorson, among others. And then there's the high number of transfers that have taken place (with more likely to happen) that has seen names like Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields, and Tate Martell wind up at new schools.
With so much turnover involving the most important position on the field, the question becomes — where do Power 5 teams find their quarterbacks?
For the fifth year in a row, Athlon Sports has tracked the roots of every projected starting quarterback for the upcoming season in the Power 5 conferences, along with BYU and Notre Dame. The operative word for this exercise is “projected,” as the aforementioned exodus of talent at the position and subsequent flurry of transfers has only added to the number of quarterback competitions that will take place this spring and probably carry over into fall camp.
While the number of states represented has remained steady (25 in 2019 and '18, 26 in ’17) there are still a number of observations that can be made.
Texas and California lead the way, but there's a new member of the Big 3
When it comes to producing football talent, Texas, California and Florida are often referred to as the "Big 3." But as far as quarterbacks go, while Texas and California continue to churn out starting signal-callers, Florida has ceded its authority in this department to its neighbor, Georgia. The Sunshine State has been responsible for three starting quarterbacks two years in a row, while the Peach State has gone from six in 2018 to seven this season.
Combine Georgia with Texas (10) and California (9) and these three states are home to roughly 40 percent (26 of the 66) of the Power 5 starting quarterbacks included in this exercise. And while these states are where established starters like Sam Ehlinger, Jake Fromm and Khalil Tate are from there's plenty of new talent coming from the pipeline. Of the 40 "new" starting quarterbacks compared to last year, 18 of them are from California (seven), Texas (six), or Georgia (five).
What's even more interesting is while the majority of these quarterbacks have stayed close to home that is not the case for all. Take California, for example. It makes perfect sense for six of the nine quarterbacks to play for Pac-12 schools, but the Golden State also has a native son in the Big Ten (Adrian Martinez), SEC (Matt Corral), and at Notre Dame (Ian Book).
New Jersey = East Coast QB factory?
While Georgia leads the way in the eastern part of the U.S. in terms of quarterback production, the state that is second is probably is a surprise. It's not Florida (three) nor is it North Carolina (two) or South Carolina (one). It's not even Louisiana or Alabama (three each) if you want to stretch the definition of the East Coast, either.
For the second year in a row, New Jersey falls in right behind Georgia with five quarterbacks. And while none of the five may be household names, it's worth noting that the Garden State's reach covers three conferences — ACC, Big Ten, SEC.
The new kids on the block
Indiana and Nevada are two states that seemingly have nothing in common, except when it comes to producing college quarterbacks. After claiming zero in 2018, these two states each have a pair of signal-callers for the upcoming season.
Indiana's two (Northwestern's Hunter Johnson and Penn State's Tommy Stevens) are in Big Ten country (although Johnson started his career at Clemson before transferring) while Nevada products Tate Martell and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who both starred at Las Vegas prep powerhouse Bishop Gorman, wound up on opposite sides of the country. Thompson-Robinson is at UCLA with Martell hoping to be ruled eligible to play this fall for Miami after transferring from Ohio State.
No one is farther than home from Hawaii native and Alabama starter Tua Tagovailoa, but he's not the only one separated from family by plenty of miles. Twelve of the projected starters for the coming season are more than 1,000 miles from home and five of those are more than 2,100 miles.
All five Power 5 conferences claim at least one of most traveled signal-callers with the Big Ten leading the way (three) and Notre Dame also getting into the act. All three of the quarterbacks that hail from Arizona (Bryce Perkins, Brian Lewerke, and Brock Purdy) play at schools that are more than 1,400 miles from their respective hometowns.
10 Farthest From Home
|Tua Tagovailoa||4,331||Ewa Beach, HI|
|Tate Martell||2,532||Las Vegas|
|Tyler Huntley||2,518||Dania Beach, FL|
|Bryce Perkins||2,180||Chandler, AZ|
|Ian Book||2,114||El Dorado Hills, CA|
|Brian Lewerke||1,944||Phoenix, AZ|
|Matt Corral||1,926||Ventura, CA|
|Adrian Martinez||1,617||Fresno, CA|
|Brock Purdy||1,423||Gilbert, AZ|
What East Coast bias?
While Georgia and New Jersey are well represented the same can’t be said for their East Coast brethren. Florida has seen its influence decline, but it's not alone. Last year,
Last year, the states of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia combined for eight projected starting quarterbacks. That total has been cut to four this year with half coming from North Carolina and none from Maryland or Virginia.
Oregon's Justin Herbert surprised many when he announced he was returning for his senior season. So the Eugene native has one more chance to lead his hometown Ducks to supremacy in the Pac-12, same for Sam Ehlinger with Texas and the Big 12.
Elsewhere, Jacob Eason started his career at Georgia but decided to return to his home state and is now expected to lead Washington following Jake Browning's departures. Jake Fromm, who replaced an injured Eason in the 2017 season opener and has been the Bulldogs' starter since, and Tobias Oliver (Georgia Tech) give the state of Georgia a pair of starting quarterbacks who are less than 120 miles away from their respective conferences.
10 Closest to Home
|Sam Ehlinger||0||Austin, TX|
|Justin Herbert||0||Eugene, OR|
|Artur Sitkowski||19||Old Bridge, NJ|
|Zach Wilson||29||Draper, UT|
|Jacob Eason||36||Lake Stevens, WA|
|JT Daniels||43||Irvine, CA|
|Sam Hartman||79||Charlotte, NC|
|Charlie Brewer||102||Austin, TX|
|Tobias Oliver||102||Warner Robins, GA|
|Jake Fromm||111||Warner Robins, GA|
Projected 2019 Power 5 Conference*
Starting QBs by State
Alan Bowman (Texas Tech), Charlie Brewer (Baylor), Sam Ehlinger (Texas), Ben Hicks (Arkansas), Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Steven Montez (Colorado), M.J. Rivers (Illinois), Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State), Dillon Sterling-Cole (Arizona State)
Ian Book (Notre Dame), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), K.J. Costello (Stanford), JT Daniels (USC), Chase Garbers (California), Tristan Gebbia (Oregon State), Anthony Gordon (Washington State), Adrian Martinez (Nebraska), Khalil Tate (Arizona)
Justin Fields (Ohio State), Cade Fortin (North Carolina), Jake Fromm (Georgia), Bailey Hockman (NC State), Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Tobias Oliver (Georgia Tech), Jawon Pass (Louisville)
New Jersey (5)
Anthony Brown (Boston College), Tommy DeVito (Syracuse), Jarrett Guarantano (Tennessee), Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh), Artur Sitkowski (Rutgers)
Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Bo Nix (Auburn), Tyrell Pigrome (Maryland)
Brian Lewerke (Michigan State), Brock Purdy (Iowa State), Bryce Perkins (Virginia)
James Blackman (Florida State), Feleipe Franks (Florida), Tyler Huntley (Utah)
Shea Patterson (Michigan), Justin Rogers (TCU), Keytaon Thompson (Mississippi State)
Joe Burrow (LSU), Thomas MacVittie (Kansas), Peyton Ramsey (Indiana)
Hunter Johnson (Northwestern), Tommy Stevens (Penn State)
Tanner Morgan (Minnesota), Elijah Sindelar (Purdue)
Tate Martell (Miami), Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)
North Carolina (2)
Sam Hartman (Wake Forest), Austin Kendall (West Virginia)
Quentin Harris (Duke)
Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Ryan Willis (Virginia Tech)
Skylar Thompson (Kansas State)
Terry Wilson (Kentucky)
Justin Herbert (Oregon)
Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin)
South Carolina (1)
Kelly Bryant (Missouri)
Deuce Wallace (Vanderbilt)
Zach Wilson (BYU)
Jacob Eason (Washington)
Nate Stanley (Iowa)
*List also includes BYU and Notre Dame