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The 25 best quarterbacks in college football for 2021: Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell lead the way

Who will fill the void left by Trevor Lawrence in 2021?

Lawrence, who was the No.1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was No.1 on Sporting News’ Top 25 quarterback list in each of the past two seasons. He was part of a class that sent out five quarterbacks in the first round of last year’s draft, a class that included Justin Fields of Ohio State and Mac Jones of Alabama.

MORE: SN’s Pre-Season Top 25

All three of college football’s dominant powers have new quarterbacks this season, and all three made our top 25. The No.1 pick, however, is an open debate between Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and Carolina’s Sam Howell. North. This will trickle down to the 2022 NFL Draft as well.

With that in mind, Sporting News takes a look at the top 25 college football quarterbacks for 2021:

  • Thompson-Robinson is entering his third season as a starter with Chip Kelly in what is a demonstration year for the Bruins. DTR showed signs of progress last year with increases in completion percentage, yards per attempt and rushing yards, and he has the potential to be Kelly’s next prolific college quarterback. Can he put everything in place for UCLA in 2021?

  • Nix peaked statistically last season, and he’s 15-9 as a starter heading into his junior season. He’s averaging 14 touchdown passes and seven rushing touchdowns per season, and it’ll be interesting to see what first-year coach Bryan Harsin brings to Nix’s game. Opinions vary on the third year starter, but the ability to play is there.

  • Doege was 16th in the FBS with 2,587 yards, and Bowling Green’s transfer returns for one more year in Troy Brown’s offense with the Mountaineers. Doege has maintained a consistent completion percentage at both stops and he has one last chance to lead a Big 12 race.

  • Morgan struggled last season, but it was part of a season cut short by COVID-19 disruptions. The rebound potential to 2019 form, in which Morgan threw 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns is possible. Morgan has to prove himself without Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman, who have both moved to the NFL since 19.

  • It’s finally Jones’ turn in Florida after a three-year wait, and he has shown glimpses of success in a niche role with Dan Mullen. Jones has passed 64% of his passes and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in that limited role, and he has the potential to be the SEC’s top performer for 2021.

  • Sanders was injured in last season’s opener in Tulsa, and he’s had an eventful second season with the Cowboys. Sanders has reappeared as a threat in the running game in the past four games, and his Cheez-It Bowl performance – which included 350 total yards and four touchdowns – is a reminder of what he can produce on offense. of the state of Oklahoma. .

  • Cunningham is an experienced three-year-old starter returning for Scott Satterfield’s third season with the Cardinals. Cunningham’s accuracy improved in 2020, but he threw more interceptions in the process. Cunningham played well in losses to Virginia Tech and Miami, and he played two 100-yard rushing games.

  • This is a suspected placement given that Stroud still hasn’t won the starting position in a three-way battle with Kyle McCord and Jack Miller III. That said, Stroud had the lead in the spring and whoever starts for the Buckeyes will have the largest wide receiver group in the country to work with. Stroud can work with that in Ryan Day’s offense, and it could put him in the top five on that list by the end of the season.

  • Jurkovec, a transfer from Notre Dame, turned out to be a great fit with Jeff Hafley at Boston College. He played four 300-yard games and led the Eagles to a 6-4 record. Jurkovec needs to be more of a threat in the racing game to take it to the next level, and he struggled with accuracy in big games against Clemson and Notre Dame last season.

  • Willis has the most rushing yards of any QB on this list after racking up 944 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2020. He also had 2,250 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. This two-way production is catching the attention of NFL scouts, and it will continue to evolve with another year in Huge Freeze’s offense at Liberty against a fairly tame roster in 2021.

  • Get to know Strong now, as he has a shot at being that first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft which you will learn about later. He completed 70.1% of his passes with 27 touchdowns and four interceptions last season. The Wolf Pack were 5-0 when they broke 300 yards or more in 2020. Strong has high-end potential and is expected to continue delivering in the Mountain West Conference.

  • Daniels played four games last season, which made it hard to see how much he improved in his sophomore year. He’s an efficient passer with 22 touchdowns and three interceptions with the Sun Devils, and averaged 6.8 yards per rushing. The double-threat talent is there and he’s capable of leading Arizona State to the Pac-12 championship game.

  • Penix’s thrilling run to the goal line against Penn State was the iconic game of a decisive season for the Hoosiers. He finished with 1,645 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions before suffering an ACL tear. Penix is ​​the Big Ten’s best quarterback, and he will need to improve his completion percentage in 2021.

  • McCall put Coastal Carolina on the college football map with a freshman season in a red shirt. He finished with 2,488 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also added 569 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. McCall had five games with at least four total TDs, and the Chanticleers were 4-1 in those games. What will he do for a second year recall?

  • Young has a tough act to follow after Mac Jones led Alabama to a national championship in 2020. Young played mostly on cleaning duty last season, and he averaged 7.1 yards per passing attempt with a completion percentage of 59.1. Improvements will need to be made, but new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and the same old busy supporting cast should lead to some big numbers for Young.

  • Purdy was ranked No.8 on that list in 2020. He chose to stay in Iowa State for his senior season, and expectations at Ames are higher than ever. Purdy’s numbers have been consistent and the Cyclones are 6-3 the past two seasons when he has rushed 300 yards or more. Purdy emerged as a more efficient runner last season, and the chance to lead a Big 12 championship race is on the table.

  • Georgia’s offense meshed once Daniels took the starting position in 2020. He averaged 10.3 yards per attempt and his quarterback rating of 178.5 would have placed in the top. 10 with more attempts. Daniels got rid of the interceptions that hampered him at USC as a freshman, and he should be more comfortable with a full offseason in Georgia.

  • King emerged as the answer to Miami’s quarterback position last season. He has integrated the new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee well, especially at the start of the season. King finished with 2,686 passing yards, 538 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns. That success was tempered by a premature ACL injury in the Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. King is expected to make a full recovery before the first game against Alabama.

  • Ridder returns to lead Cincinnati, which is the first buster in the college football playoffs before 2021. Ridder is 30-5 as a starter, and has 57 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He’s also averaging 6.0 yards per carry. This double-threat production has elevated the schedule, and Ridder will be able to showcase those skills in a pair of tough non-conference games in Indiana and Notre Dame.

  • Slovis is expected to follow in Sam Darnold, Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart’s footsteps as USC’s next first-round quarterback. The 6-2, 200-pounder is a third-year starter, and he’s completed 70 percent of his passes with 47 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Slovis is 1-3 against the Top 25 teams as a starter, and he’s tasked with bringing the Trojans back to the Pac-12 championship game.

  • Gabriel is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the FBS. He’s averaged 3,611 passing yards and 31 touchdowns over the past two seasons, and that comes with just 11 total interceptions. He needs to improve his completion percentage and become a bit more active in the running game, but that will happen with the arrival of first-year coach Gus Malzahn.

  • Who would have guessed that Lane Kiffin had the SEC’s best returning quarterback? Corral led every quarterback on that list with 3,843 total attacking yards last season. He finished with 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and he ran for 506 yards. The Rebels have averaged 39.2 points per game and should be even more entertaining in Kiffin’s second season. Corral’s game-making talents make him an intriguing Heisman sleeper.

  • Uiagalelei follows Trevor Lawrence to Clemson, and fans got a glimpse of the five-star talent in two top-tier starts against Boston College and Notre Dame. Uiagalelei showed up with 914 passing yards, 5 touchdowns and no interceptions as a rookie, and the 6-4, 250-pound quarterback is a red zone run option that has scored four touchdowns. This experience should lead to another great year for the Tigers, and Uiagalelei is Clemson’s next first-round star in that role.

  • Howell has averaged 10.3 yards per passing attempt over the past two seasons, and he’s racked up 7,224 yards, 68 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in that streak. He’s been the centerpiece of a quick rebuild under Mack Brown at Chapel Hill, and the third-year starter should be even better as a junior. Five ACC quarterbacks have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft over the past five seasons, a list that includes Deshaun Watson (2017), Mitchell Trubisky (2017), Lamar Jackson (2018), Daniel Jones (2019) and Trevor Lawrence (2021). Howell is next.

  • Rattler is the Heisman Trophy favorite, and it’s a good bet considering Lincoln Riley worked with two winners at Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. He struggled with turnovers early in the season, but in Oklahoma’s last eight games – all wins – he’s averaged 255.8 passing yards with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions. Rattler doesn’t run much, but he still scored six rushing touchdowns in 2020. Another year with Riley should produce even more, especially with the supporting cast loaded at skill stations in Oklahoma.





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