How College Football’s 20 Best QB Recruits Fared

How College Football’s 20 Best QB Recruits Fared


Arch Manning’s commitment to Texas is certainly a massive recruiting victory for the Longhorns as they seek to rebuild their proud — but underperforming — football program. Manning will help out with other recruits in his class in 2023 and beyond, bolstering coach Steve Sarkisian’s credibility after a terrible debut season.

But what his impact on the field will be is more murky. Yes, he is the No. 1 quarterback in his class and has two uncles who have each won two Super Bowls and a grandfather who was one of the greatest players in SEC history. None of this guarantees success or stamps him as the savior of the Texas program or a future as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Look no further than Chris Simms’ career in Texas. The son of a Super Bowl MVP, an equally celebrated up-and-coming talent, he never found footing with the Longhorns and failed to deliver in their biggest games.

There is a wide range of power among the players in Arch Manning’s situation. What is the probability that he will live up to the high expectations placed on him? History can help us with a look at the top-rated quarterbacks in the last 20 recruiting classes and how their careers have progressed. (Leaderboards are based on 247 sports for each season). One thing worth noting – eight of the group were traded and six were first-round picks so far.

Vince Young, Texas (2002)

The Houston native was one of the dynamic players during his three seasons with the Longhorns. He led the team to the 2005 national championship and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2006 draft, but his NFL career ended after six seasons.

Kyle Wright, Miami (Fl.) (2003)

Wright, billed as the successor to the talented Hurricanes quarterbacks before him, never lived up to those expectations, throwing for just 38 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. He was not called up in 2008

Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma (2004)

Bomar started during his 2005 redshirt freshman season and showed promise by winning the Holiday Bowl MVP. However, he was kicked off the team that offseason for his involvement in NCAA rule violations. Bomar transferred to Sam Houston State and was drafted by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, spending most of the next two years on the team’s practice squad. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings and later the Oakland Raiders but never threw a pass in the NFL.

Mark Sanchez, Southern California (2005)

Sanchez became the full-time starter for the Trojans in just his fourth season, leading the team to the Rose Bowl while throwing for 34 touchdowns. He entered the NFL draft with one year remaining and was picked by the New York Jets with the fifth first-round pick. He led the Jets to two AFC Championship games before his career stalled. He had his last appearance in 2018.

Matthew Stafford, Georgia (2006)

Stafford took the starting job with the Bulldogs early in his freshman season and only gave it up when he left after his junior year. Georgia was successful during his time there, but the team failed to make the SEC title game before the Detroit Lions drafted him #1 overall in the 2008 draft. In his first season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, he led the team to a Super Bowl victory.

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame (2007)

When announcing his engagement in a limousine at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana, Clausen was scrutinized from the start. Clausen wasn’t generational as his hype suggested, but he did have a solid three years as a starter for the Fighting Irish with 53 touchdowns in his last two seasons despite the team’s struggling. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft and forced to start 10 games of his rookie season and win only one. He last played in 2015.

Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State (2008)

Pryor took the starting job for the Buckeyes as a freshman and guided them to the Big Ten title as a sophomore. His career was cut short in 2010 when he was involved in NCAA rule violations and was suspended from the team’s bowl game. Pryor was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft. During his four years with the team, he started 10 games for the Raiders and eventually switched to wide receiver. He last played in 2018.

Matt Barkley, Southern California (2009)

Barkley, another player with high expectations, replaced Sanchez as the starter for the Trojans after winning the job as a true freshman. Two of his seasons were on probation with USC, but when he entered his senior year, USC was ranked No. 1 in the preseason and he was considered a Heisman favorite. However, the team lost five games and Barkley would fall into the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft. He’s hopped around with multiple teams in the NFL and recently signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Phillip Sims, Alabama (2010)

This year’s recruiting league lacked an elite talent at the position, making Sims one of the lowest-rated quarterbacks in the past quarter-century. Sims was AJ McCarron’s backup for two seasons before moving to Virginia. He played in 12 games for the Cavaliers in 2012 and then transferred to Winston-Salem State after becoming academically ineligible. He was undrafted in 2015.

Jeff Driskel, Florida (2011)

Driskel played four seasons for the Gators, but his bright spot came in 2012 when he led the team to 11 wins and the Sugar Bowl while throwing just 12 touchdowns. He was injured and lost in game three for the season the following year. After losing his job in 2014, he joined Louisiana Tech and was ultimately selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Driskel started in five games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018 and one for the Detroit Lions the following year. He is currently a member of the Houston Texans.

Jameis Winston, Florida State (2012)

The only quarterback on this list to win a national title and the Heisman Trophy, Winston served his freshman season as a redshirt before winning his first 26 games as a starter. The first 14 came in his first campaign, throwing 40 touchdowns as the Seminoles beat Auburn in the BCS title game. They would reach the College Football Playoff the following year. Winston then departed when he was selected overall in the 2015 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played five seasons for the Bucs before moving to the New Orleans Saints, where he was the last two seasons.

Max Browne, Southern California (2013)

Browne, the Trojans’ third signee on this list, was a backup in his first three seasons. After winning the seed in 2016, a poor opener game against Alabama resulted in Sam Darnold replacing him. Browne went to Pittsburgh the following season and was the five-game starter before suffering a season-ending injury. He wasn’t drafted.

Kyle Allen, Texas A&M (2014)

Allen shared the starting role as a freshman and won the job the following season. He was eventually replaced by Kyler Murray after midseason struggles and was posted to Houston after the season. Allen sat out the 2016 season and lost his starting job early the following season, then opted for the NFL draft. He signed with the Carolina Panthers after failing to be called up. He played two seasons with the Panthers and two more with Washington before signing with Houston this offseason.

Josh Rosen, UCLA (2015)

A must-buy prospect after his heralded high school career, Rosen performed well in his freshman season, throwing for 23 touchdowns and leading the Bruins to eight wins. He was injured midway through his sophomore season and was drafted for the NFL draft after his junior year. A first-round pick for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, he started in 13 games in his rookie season and was then traded to the Miami Dolphins. He also spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons in his four seasons.

Shea Patterson, Mississippi (2016)

Patterson planned to play a redshirt in his freshman season but was called into action late in the campaign due to an injury. His strong performances in those last three games gave optimism ahead of the next season, but Ole Miss was placed on probation and manager Hugh Freeze was fired. Patterson was injured mid-year and would transfer to Michigan. He played well for the Wolverines, throwing 45 touchdowns over those two seasons, but was not drafted in 2020. Since then he has played in the Canadian Football League and the USFL.

Davis Mills, Stanford (2017)

Mills took over the starting job for the Cardinal after suffering an injury in his third season. The pandemic limited him to just five games in 2020 and he entered the NFL draft in 2021. Houston Texas selected him in the third round and he started in 11 games last year. Despite winning just two games, he broke the team record for passing yards by a rookie and is expected to be this season’s starter.

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (2018)

As expected from Manning, Lawrence was the #1 consensus player in his recruiting class. He fulfilled those predictions when he took the starting job early in his freshman season and led the Tigers to the national title. Clemson would appear in two college football playoffs after that, and then Lawrence declared for the NFL draft. He was picked overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars and started in all 17 games of his rookie season.

Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma (2019)

After sitting behind Jalen Hurts in his freshman year, Rattler had growing pains in his freshman year as a starter before rebounding to lead the Sooners to the Big 12 title. Starting last season, the suspected Heisman favorite struggled again and was eventually replaced by Caleb Williams against Texas and didn’t start another game. He moved to South Carolina for this season.

Bryce Young, Alabama (2020)

Young is the second Heisman Trophy winner on this list, having streaked for 47 touchdowns and 4,872 yards in his first season as a starter last year. The Crimson Tide made the college football playoff game before losing to Georgia. Young is expected to enter the NFL draft after this season and plans to be a first-round pick.

Quinn Ewers, Ohio State (2021)

Ewers chose to bypass his senior season of high school and enlist with the Buckeyes. His late arrival during the preseason and the depth of quarterback competition caused him to be buried on the depth chart for the season. He decided to move to Texas and applied for his first job this spring.

Follow college reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith

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