Searching for sleepers in weakest QB class in recent memory
Four days before
Only one problem: There aren't any stars. At least not yet.
In most years, recruitniks elevate at least one or two blue-chip quarterbacks to savior-like status -- think
"I've been doing this since 1992, and I can't ever remember a weaker quarterback group," said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst
In other words, there is no
And it showed earlier this month at both the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the defenses dominated. The most noteworthy passing performance in either game came from New York's
But just because this year's quarterbacks aren't receiving lavish praise doesn't mean stars won't emerge; it may just be a while before many of them see the field.
"There are kids in this class that are very skilled and have the tools to develop at this position but would really benefit from a redshirt year," said Scouts, Inc.'s national recruiting director,
The experts don't necessarily agree on who those players will be, though.
Rivals' highest-rated quarterback (No. 63 overall) is
"Heaps is probably the most ready to play in college," said Newberg, "but he needs to get bigger."
Others aren't so keen.
Luginbill's top quarterback is Alabama commit
"Physically, [Sims] is the most gifted [quarterback] in the class," said Luginbill. "I also felt as I studied him more and more, his high school scheme, how he was coached, he was well groomed. He wasn't in a dink and dunk offense, he had to throw on the run, throw in the pocket. He's been very well prepared for the collegiate game."
Wallace, who places greater emphasis on quarterbacks than other services, ranks three between 13th and 16th nationally, still inordinately low by his standards. ("To have SuperPrep's top quarterback ranked 13th is shocking," he said.) They are: Sims, Texas commit
Wood and Jones also enrolled early and step into similarly low-pressure situations -- rising 'Horns sophomore
"I'm probably the only recruiting [analyst] that has Connor Wood No. 2 in the country, but I really liked how he looked in the [U.S. Army] All-American game," said Wallace. "He's mobile, and he can hurt you in more than one way."
Luginbill's top-rated quarterbacks behind Sims are USC commit
Citing the cases of Clausen, Pryor and Barkley, who visibly struggled as true-freshman starters, Luginbill said the lower expectations surrounding this year's quarterbacks may work in their favor.
"Almost all of those kids have gotten themselves in situations where they can go in, no pressure, knowing they're going to redshirt," said Luginbill. "Two years from now, when they're competing for the starting quarterback job, it will make an absolute difference in how these kids play."
But not everyone will have that luxury.
Tennessee may have little choice but to hand the ball to recently enrolled freshman
"I think Tennessee got a steal in Tyler Bray," said Luginbill. "Coming out of high school, he reminds me of a right-handed
Meanwhile, Michigan fans are hopeful
"After watching him in Orlando [during Under Armour practices], I think he needs a redshirt," said Newberg.
Of course, rankings don't always predict college success. The highest-rated high school quarterbacks sometimes fail to live up to their billing, while under-the-radar recruits can morph into the sport's biggest stars. For every Tebow (Rivals' No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in 2006), Stafford (No. 1 pro-style QB in '06) or
The most likely 2010 sleeper, said Wallace, is
Wallace also noted three largely overlooked Californians:
Luginbill's sleeper is Notre Dame early enrollee
This article mentions 15 Class of 2010 quarterbacks -- but it's entirely possible someone else will become the class' biggest star. The various intangibles specific to quarterback play make it inherently difficult for analysts to project to the next level, and it becomes all the more difficult when there's no specimen like Pryor or Barkley jumping off the screen.
"I remember when I saw [current Arkansas QB]
Here's hoping your team isn't depending on one of them this fall.