Even with the value placed on superstar receivers and edge rushers in college football, quarterback holds a weight unlike any other position in sports. A great quarterback can change everything for their team, and signal-callers in this generation are arriving on campus more developed than ever.
However, putting together a talented quarterback room is harder than ever in 2022. Blue-chip passers rarely stay for multiple seasons after losing starting jobs. Players with significant experience often move on to find greener pastures. The programs that can curate talented rooms stand apart.
Now, it must be said, this conversation is built around evaluating an entire quarterback grouping. This is not a ranking of the best quarterbacks in the nation alone. For example, a player like USC’s Caleb Williams or Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong could easily make a top-five list on their own. Behind them on the depth chart, though, the situation is far more tenuous than the teams mentioned on this list. Without further ado, here are the top five quarterback rooms in the nation.
If you bring back the Heisman-winning quarterback and former top-100 recruits, it earns you a spot on the top of this list. Bryce Young was sensational in his first season as a starter, completing 66.9% of his passes for 4,872 yards passing and 47 touchdowns. He threw for more than 300 yards 10 times, including a 369-yard performance in the College Football Playoff National Championship and 421 yards and three scores in the SEC title game. The depth behind Young is green, but Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson were among the most pursued players in the nation. If Simpson and Milroe are good enough for Nick Saban, we trust them.
The Buckeyes likely ended 2021 with America’s best quarterback room but took a hit after former No. 1 recruit Quinn Ewers and Jack Miller transferred out of the program. C.J. Stroud is the presumed No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, so hopefully No. 2 is a decent consolation. Stroud completed 71.9% of his passes for 4,435 yards passing and 44 touchdowns in a tremendous first season. He saved his best for last with 1,760 yards passing and 19 touchdowns in his final four games alone. Backup Kyle McCord was a five-star in his own right, while 2022 recruit Devin Brown ranked among the top 50 recruits. The combination of talent and experience gives the Buckeyes a shot to wrest away the top spot once again in 2022.
The Wolverines are perhaps the only team in the country with three quarterbacks who could absolutely start in the Power Five. Cade McNamara led the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff with his reliable play but was later benched against Georgia after former five-star recruit J.J. McCarthy found success moving the ball. While McCarthy was primarily used in run packages, he threw for 131 yards and a touchdown in playoff relief. Strangely enough, that pushed former Texas Tech star Alan Bowman to third string. The Texan threw for more than 5,000 yards and 33 touchdowns before transferring to Ann Arbor, and now can’t get off the bench. It’s an embarrassment of riches for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
4. Georgia Bulldogs
For all the talk of his limitations, Stetson Bennett ended 2021 ranking No. 2 in the SEC in quarterback rating, No. 4 in passing touchdowns, No. 5 in yards passing and No. 1 in yards per attempt. He was highly efficient and made big-time plays in the national championship game to deliver the ‘Dawgs their first ring since 1980. The room behind him is unproven but supremely talented. Brock Vandagriff was a five-star in the Class of 2021, while Carson Beck is entering his third year with the group. Gunner Stockton, meanwhile, is another blue-chip recruit who should provide valuable depth. We’d like to see a little more experience from the backup group in 2022, but Bennett is a good quarterback.
5. LSU Tigers
The Tigers don’t have a proven starter after losing top passer Max Johnson to the transfer portal, but the collection of signal-callers currently in Baton Rouge ranks among the deepest in the nation. LSU added former Arizona State starter Jayden Daniels, who posted more than 3,000 yards of total offense in 2021, while Myles Brennan returns after missing most of the last two seasons with injuries. Down the pipe, Garrett Nussmeier and high four-star recruit Walker Howard have the tools to compete for playing time right away. New offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock will have his selection of a dynamic, diverse group of passers in his first season. The ceiling depends on whether any of the four jump up and take the job.
Miami: Tyler Van Dyke is a Heisman contender, but backup Jake Garcia is a blue-chip recruit who has shown some real signs in Coral Gables. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis should do wonders with this group.
Penn State: When Sean Clifford can stay healthy, the Nittany Lions are a Big Ten contender. Luckily, blue-chip freshman Drew Allar gives Penn State far more insurance — and upside — in case of emergency.
Texas: Quinn Ewers is a former No. 1 recruit and freshman Maalik Murphy ranked among the top 200 players, too. Hudson Card beat out upperclassman Casey Thompson for the starting job over the offseason and still has plenty of upside. The only thing keeping this group off the list is experience.
Texas A&M: The Aggies had bad quarterback play in 2021, but added proven SEC starter Max Johnson and No. 2 national quarterback recruit Conner Weigman next to opening-day starter Haynes King. With this much depth, contending for the conference is the expectation.