Almost all of the best quarterbacks in the class of 2018 have already made their college decisions. According to the 247Sports Composite, 21 of the top 22 players ranked at that position are off the board. That number is not surprising; QBs tend to end their recruitments earlier than players at other positions. The only undecided signal-caller in that group is four-star prospect Tanner McKee. Although McKee plans to reveal where he’ll play college football on National Signing Day, he’s a special case. Here’s what you need to know about him:
Fast Facts: Tanner McKee
247Sports Composite rank: No. 46 overall, No. 3 pro-style QB
Height/weight: 6'6"/220 pounds
High School: Centennial High (Corona, Calif.)
McKee is being recruited as a member of the class of 2018, but as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), he plans to serve a two-year mission before joining his program of choice, effectively making him a member of the class of 2020. McKee indicated in comments to Bleacher Report that he does not plan to reassess his recruitment during his time away, but that he might reevaluate things if there’s a head coaching change. He was named one of the 12 finalists for the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback competition this summer and was selected to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. As a senior at Centennial, McKee passed for 2,147 yards with 23 touchdowns against only two interceptions and added 675 rushing yards on 11.4 yards per carry, according to MaxPreps. He’s a pro-style prototype who “seems to always be in rhythm and has natural arm talent,” 247Sports recruiting director Steve Wiltfong wrote in January.
McKee took an official visit to Stanford—during which he met former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—and reportedly had an in-home visit with Washington head coach Chris Petersen before competing in the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii on Jan. 20. Bleacher Report noted that his lists of finalists is composed of the Cardinal, Huskies, Alabama, Texas and Texas A&M.
Where he fits
The delay in McKee’s enrollment makes it difficult to say which program would give him the best opportunity to play right away. Stanford has recruited multiple high-end pro-style quarterbacks in the last half-decade, including projected returning starter K.J. Costello and the No. 1 pro-style passer in the class of 2017, Greater Atlanta Christian (Ga.) School product Davis Mills. The Cardinal also are no strangers to recruiting players who are members of the LDS church. And assuming head coach David Shaw doesn’t leave Palo Alto for an NFL job at some point over the next two years—a group of ESPN analysts ranked him their No. 2 candidate in January—there’s a good chance McKee will join an annual division and conference championship contender. That also holds true for fellow Pac-12 North power Washington (including the NFL caveat), although the Huskies’ QB room is getting crowded. They’re already signing two four-star quarterbacks in the class of 2018 (dual-threat Colson Yankoff and pro-style passer Jacob Sirmon) and are expected add ex-Georgia signal caller Jacob Eason, himself a former five-star prospect, via transfer.
If McKee chooses to leave the West Coast, he could join an Alabama program less than a month removed from affirming its status as the FBS gold standard by winning another national championship. Plus, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has shown he won’t resist giving a true freshman the keys to the offense if that gives Saban the best chance to win. Both Texas and Texas A&M are coming off seven-win seasons, but if Tom Herman can turn the bounty of top-end talent he’s attracted to Austin in this cycle—the Longhorns’ class ranks No. 3 in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite—it may not be long before Texas is battling for College Football Playoff berths. The Aggies just hired a coach, Jimbo Fisher, who has already won a national title and is renowned for his ability to develop quarterbacks. It’s not inconceivable that they could round into a serious threat to the Crimson Tide in the SEC West by the time McKee enrolls.