Ever since they were being recruited, it’s been Trevor Lawrence against Justin Fields. The two quarterbacks have been the main focus of college football analysts, and now are the focus of NFL scouts too. If you’re looking for other options, college football presents a number of other quarterbacks to watch. Given there are 130 teams with many different schemes, there are plenty of players that can entertain you on a weekly basis.
Fields and Lawrence are the quarterbacks everyone knows, but the potential behind them makes the future bright for the sport. Super sophs Kedon Slovis, Sam Howell, Spencer Sanders, and Bo Nix are tabbed as future stars. John Rhys Plumlee, Hank Bachmeier, Dillon Gabriel, and Layne Hatcher are underrated but can be explosive. While there might not be anyone that overtakes Fields or Lawrence in terms of NFL talent, but there’s plenty of potential for entertainment behind them. That’s the beauty of college football, and it’s okay to have multiple quarterbacks on your list to watch every Saturday.
NOTE: Click on the players name to read their player profile.
Top CFB Quarterbacks
A Phillip Rivers-style passer who is returning after an injury and a redshirt cut his season short, but his return gives the Red Raiders a chance to light up scoreboards in the Big 12.
24. DESMOND RIDDER, CINCINNATI
Ridder brought the Bearcats to the AAC Championship Game in his sophomore season, but couldn’t finish the job. Entering his third year as the starter for Cincinnati’s quarterback, improvements as a passer could push his team to the top of the conference.
23. HANK BACHMEIER, BOISE STATE
No one took more hits than Bachmeier last season. Even with that punishment, he showed plenty of promise for the future of the Broncos. While they went thru a few quarterbacks because of injury, Boise State’s trust is in Bachmeier’s hands.
22. JOHN RHYS PLUMLEE, OLE MISS
He’ll battle with Matt Corral for the starting spot, but Plumlee seems to have the higher ceiling. He’ll need to improve as a passer, but this kid is a stud running the football. Even the defending champions, the LSU Tigers, couldn’t find a way to stop him.
Back for yet another year in college, White will lead another explosive Tigers offense. He took a step forward in terms of thriving in big games, and that play pushed Memphis to the top of the AAC.
Nebraska was picked to be a Big Ten contender, but they haven’t lived up to the billing. Martinez plays an important role in getting them to where they want to be, and he has the skillset to elevate the Cornhuskers near the top of the conference. There are things he’ll need to address, but there’s a reason he came to Lincoln with some hype.
The former 5-star already has a win over Alabama as a freshman, but needs to show he can become a more complete passer. Seth Williams is good, but Nix can’t expect him to come down with every jump ball thrown.
SMU’s offense thrived last year thanks to a loaded group of skill players. Starting with Buechele. The former Texas Longhorn transferred to the Mustangs, and instantly improved the offense. Now he has to find new partners in the backfield along with a go-to player downfield. His return provides stability for the offense, and there’s still talent at the skill positions to keep SMU competitive.
Can Kellen Mond elevate his game? He’s a good player, but the question remains if he can take his game to a new level. Jimbo Fisher’s hard on his quarterbacks, but Mond’s proven that he can handle it. The Aggies are hoping to surprise people in the SEC West, and they have the right guy leading the offense to make some noise. So, while it’s a tough road to change their place in the conference, it wouldn’t be surprising if Mond and his team pull off some upsets and shake things up in the SEC.
16. SPENCER SANDERS, OKLAHOMA STATE
Oklahoma State’s already produced plenty of interest from fans across the country, but they have the potential to get that same attention when the season begins. Sanders is the X-factor in that success. He’s an electric runner, but will need to improve as a passer (11 interceptions) if the Cowboys want to make the playoff this year.
The season hasn’t even begun, but Jones is already facing scrutiny about his role. Incoming freshman Bryce Young is already considered a potential starter, and Jones must show he’s the guy. His limited experience last year produced some exciting potential, and he’ll have plenty of talent to work with in the offense. He’s one of the most poised quarterbacks in the country, so the pressure to win won’t get to him, and the Crimson Tide will be back in title contention once again.
An injury ended his 2019 season, and he decided a fresh start is just what he needed. Arkansas’ quarterback play has been lacking in terms of talent over the last few years, and Franks instantly erases that concern. There’s plenty of potential at the skill positions for the Razorbacks, and they add one of the best arms in the country.
When Franks went down, Trask took over. After getting to Gainesville even without starting a high school game, he took advantage of his opportunity. This year will be a different challenge. Florida doesn’t have the talent it did last season, and Trask will have to show that he can make more plays with less proven talent.
Brewer’s health remains the biggest concern for this season and his career, but a healthy Charlie Brewer gives Baylor a leader and solid player at quarterback. A new coaching staff enters the picture, and he’ll need to identify a new weapon to replace Denzel Mims, but he has options. The Bears might take a step back, but they’ll have stability at quarterback as long as he can stay healthy.
Opinions on Newman range from elite to below average, so there are plenty of questions to answer this year. His transfer from Wake Forest has many believing that he’s what the Bulldogs need, but also that it will improve his draft stock since he’ll be around more talent. But that’s all speculation right now. If Newman and Georgia can work well together, a College Football Playoff appearance is in play. Newman goes from throwing to Sage Surratt to throwing to George Pickens, which is a luxury that not many quarterbacks experience ever.
10. JAYDEN DANIELS, ARIZONA STATE
Daniels took over the starting spot in his first season in Tempe, and showed why many are high on him. Already one of the best quarterbacks in the country, there are things he can improve to get even better. He has a cannon for an arm, but can add velocity and distance to his throws if he follows thru all the way more often. He played smart in 2019, throwing 17 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
Book is the most poised quarterback in the country, and it’s his level head that will keep the Irish in any game no matter how big. New skill players need to emerge, but Book and all five offensive line are back, so there’s plenty of stability to branch out from in the offense. Maybe his best kept secret is that he’s a solid runner (546 yards and four touchdowns), which gives defenses another thing to scheme against when they face Notre Dame. Can he bring the Irish back to the playoff? Yes, but after that we’re not sure if he can take them farther.
Reminder, King was responsible for 50 touchdowns in 2018. While he did sit out after four games last year at Houston, his talent gives Miami plenty of excitement. Offensive line was a major weakness for the Canes last season, but King’s elusiveness helps them address part of that concern. Miami’s been missing quality play at the position for a while, and they’ll at least get one season of excitement with King on campus.
Howell and North Carolina surprised everyone last year, and even those in Chapel Hill didn’t see this coming. The former four star threw for over 3,600 yards and 38 touchdowns as a freshman, and joins a plethora of talent on the offense. North Carolina’s looking to overthrow Clemson as the top team in the ACC, and they have the quarterback to do so. It would be shocking if Howell suffered a sophomore slump with the talent surrounding him, so the biggest question remains if they can handle they hype they’re receiving this offseason.
Coached by Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner in high school, Kedon Slovis was ready for his moment. When JT Daniels went down with an injury, Slovis stepped in and kept the offense running. Now he’s back after nearly a full year of experience, and the Trojans are set to explode in 2020. With Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown back at receiver, this offense won’t be easy to stop, and is a big reason why the Trojans are being picked to win the Pac-12. We’ll learn a lot about Slovis and USC when they face Alabama in Week 1.
Arguably the most overlooked quarterback on this list, Morgan and the Gophers proved why people need to believe in PJ Fleck. The junior isn’t the most naturally talented player, but his attention to detail makes him one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He’ll play under a new offensive coordinator this season after throwing for over 3,200 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2019, but it’s that attention to detail that will help him adjust and keep Minnesota competitive in the Big Ten.
Purdy deserves more recognition than he gets. Sam Ehlinger and any Oklahoma quarterback will get most of the love, but Purdy’s going to demand respect by the end of the year. He nearly threw for 4,000 yards last year, and also showed that he could run. Iowa State is the perfect fit for him, and they’re typically the underdogs in the Big 12. But we’ve seen that Purdy can ball and the Cyclones can pull off upsets against some of the best competition.
Another year as the starter figures to yield great results from Ehlinger. Texas has been under a microscope nationally, and it’s now or never for the Longhorns. Disappointing finishes need to stop, and there’s no reason the talent on this roster can’t turn into a championship of some sort. Ehlinger transformed himself from a bruising runner who can sometimes throw to a solid passer who also runs. His transformation is the reason Texas can compete in big games, and will also be the reason they have a chance at a Big 12 title this year.
His game-ending interception ended the Buckeyes season, but it also motivates him for 2020. Fields has lived in Trevor Lawrence’s shadow, but he can change that this season to snag the top spot. Already one of the best quarterbacks in the country, Fields has his sights set on bigger goals this year. A Heisman Trophy is a possibility, but that might be tough with the talent on the roster competing with him. The focus most likely will be on winning a championship, so any other hardware seems more like a bonus than the goal this season.
There aren’t any quarterbacks in the country that will be scrutinized more than Trevor Lawrence this year. With a national championship already under his belt, Lawrence knows how to handle the pressure. It became a little tougher when Justyn Ross underwent surgery that ended his 2020 season, but there’s no shortage in talent. Travis Etienne joins Lawrence in the backfield to help, but most of the pressure will be on the Tigers quarterback to get them back to the championship.
Sean Clifford, Penn State: He’s a work in proress, but new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca has fans excited about his potential.
Dillon Gabriel, UCF: Took over the Knights offense as a freshman, and thrived in Josh Heupel’s offense. He’ll need to play better in big games, but there’s talent around him to help with that.
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State: Thomas and the Mountaineers are a good fit, and they always have the potential for a Power 5 upset.
Dustin Crum, Kent State: He’s not going to sling the football a ton, but he’s efficient (8.2 yards per attempt) and takes care of the ball (20 touchdowns to two picks).
KJ Costello, Mississippi State: Former Stanford quarterback takes his big arm to an offense that throws more in a quarter than the Cardinal normally do in a game.
Chris Robison, FAU: Former Oklahoma transfer elevated the Owls offense to a new level, but must find chemistry with Willie Taggart and the new coaching staff.
Terry Wilson, Kentucky: Returns from injury to join a talented offense, but needs to improve as a passer.
Layne Hatcher, Arkansas State: Transferred from Alabama and took over the starting job with the Red Wolves last year. He’ll battle with Logan Bonner for the job this year now that Bonner’s fully healthy.
Micale Cunningham, Louisville: Cunningham has similar traits to Lamar Jackson, but not the ceiling. Still, he’ll be entertaining to watch in a Cardinals offense full of potential and speed.
Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech: Justin Fuente’s latest quarterback flashed in 2019, and the Hokies are ready to surprise this season.
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma: Already chosen as the starter for next year, Rattler has a high ceiling in Lincoln Riley’s offense, and the Sooners have a potential star on the roster. We just need to see them produce.
McKenzie Milton, UCF: It’s a miracle that he’s even walking, but now the attention turns towards playing. Milton’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country when healthy, but getting to that point remains the biggest concern.
JT Daniels, Georgia: The USC transfer awaits a waiver to be eligible, but could be a great fit in the Bulldogs offense.
Sam Hartman, Wake Forest: Jamie Newman’s transfer means it’s Hartman’s job. The Netflix show QB1 star is ready to shine on the field throwing to Sage Surratt.
Anthony Brown, Oregon: Brown transferred from Boston College, giving the Ducks a threat at quarterback to replace Justin Herbert.
Myles Brennan, LSU: Taking over for Joe Burrow isn’t exactly an enviable position, but Brennan has the arm talent to keep the Tigers offense going in 2020.
Holton Ahlers, ECU: Ahlers already has multiple 400 yard passing games under his belt, and the Pirates are poised to make a jump offensively.