Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Ohio State, Texas among college football teams with deepest quarterback rooms for 2024 season

Managing a college football quarterback room has never been more difficult. The transfer portal can quickly zap depth. Even the best programs in the country are largely left without proven experience as highly-ranked recruits are leaving faster than ever for playing time. 

As the quarterback carousel careens even further out of control, having depth comes at even more of a premium. In a 12-team College Football Playoff world, withstanding a quarterback injury becomes vital.

Lists like this are highly subjective, but a few factors stand apart. Experience comes at a premium. Teams with multiple former starters or proven commodities stand ahead of those that simply have impressive recruits. Years in the system as a backup only helps. 

Notably, our list does not include any teams from the Group of Five. While individual players like Liberty’s Kaidon Salter and Fresno State’s Mikey Keene rank among the better passers in the country, holding onto top quarterbacks and building depth has never been more tenuous. Additionally, the post-spring transfer portal window could once again throw the list into chaos. 

With that said, here are the deepest quarterback rooms in the country in 2024. 

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Key players: Will Howard, Devin Brown, Lincoln Kienholz, Air Noland, Julian Sayin

The Buckeyes have only one player with major starting experience, but the total talent just jumps off the page. Howard led Kansas State to a Big 12 Championship and has thrown nearly 800 passes in his career. Brown has been in the system for two years waiting his turn and should be fully recovered from nagging lower body injuries that doomed his Cotton Bowl debut, while Kienholz continues to develop. Noland and Sayin each ranked among the top seven quarterbacks in the Class of 2024, bringing in one of the silliest high school recruiting combos of all time. The only major question facing this room: Can any individual player make a star turn? No other program in the country has as many as five players who will contend for that role, giving them the top spot. It pays to employ one of the top quarterback developers in America in Ryan Day. 

2. Oregon Ducks

Key players: Dillon Gabriel, Dante Moore, Austin Novosad

The Ducks are the only program in the country that can contend with Ohio State’s riches at the quarterback position. Gabriel ranks as a dark horse Heisman Trophy contender after carrying Oklahoma to 10 wins last season. He has thrown for nearly 15,000 yards and could legitimately push for Case Keenum’s all-time passing record. UCLA transfer Moore was the No. 4 overall player in the Class of 2023 and worked through some growing pains as a part-time starter. He should take another step under highly regarded offensive coordinator Will Stein. Novosad redshirted last season, but also boasts impressive upside. 

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Quinn Ewers, left, and Arch Manning give Texas a formidable QB combonation. USATSI

3. Texas Longhorns

Key players: Quinn Ewers, Arch Manning, Trey Owens

The Longhorns only have one player with real snaps on the roster. Still, the other is, you know, a Manning. Ewers and Manning rank as two of only four No. 1 overall quarterback recruits in the Top247 era and among the most hyped players ever at the position. If Ewers goes down, Manning is more than ready to step into the fray. Owens doesn’t boast the same elite pedigree as the other two starters, but Texas coach Steve Sarkisian identified him as a priority early in the process when he was relatively unknown. Those around the 40 Acres are optimistic about his potential. 

4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Key players: Riley Leonard, Steve Angeli, CJ Carr

The Fighting Irish have the platonic ideal of a quarterback room after adding Leonard as a transfer from Duke – a top starter, a backup with experience and an exciting young star. Leonard struggled with injuries last season, but Leonard was the primary offensive catalyst behind the Blue Devils winning 17 games over the past two seasons. Angeli started his first game in the Sun Bowl and threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 pass attempts. Waiting in the wings is Carr, the grandson of Michigan‘s Lloyd Carr, who has long been viewed as the future. Notre Dame is set. 

5. Missouri Tigers

Key players: Brady Cook, Drew Pyne

The Tigers were previously slated to boast a strong quarterback room with Sam Horn backing up Cook, but the plans were thrown into disarray after Horn suffered a UCL injury on the baseball field. Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz acted fast, adding Pyne to complement the underrated Cook. Pyne struggled with injuries last season, but previously started 10 games for Notre Dame and led a five-game winning streak. Cook’s progression keyed Missouri’s magical Cotton Bowl run in 2023, but having some insurance helps. 

6. SMU Mustangs

Key players: Preston Stone, Kevin Jennings

Stone was quietly one of the best signal-callers in the nation last season in his first year as a starter, throwing for more than 3,000 yards with 28 touchdowns. He should quickly rank among the best in the ACC next year. Jennings became a legend in the Metroplex after leading South Oak Cliff High School to its first ever state championship. Just two years later, he led SMU to its first conference championship since 1984. That’s not a bad track record. 

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