Quarterbacks are the face of any football franchise and the race to secure that future face plays paramount in college football recruiting. It tangibly became the recruiting story to cap the week, as Rutgers, Iowa State and Virginia Tech each added commitments at the game's most important position on Thursday or Friday.
There was some surprise, especially regarding the timing, of these decisions. It reflects the urgency Program X to pick up an on-field leader and more times than not, the kick-starter towards an uptick in adding commitments in this era of peer recruiting playing as important as it ever has.
By our count, more than half of the 65 Power 5 programs now have their 'guy' in the class of 2022.
Gavin Wimsatt to Rutgers
Upon hearing the news of Kentucky's top quarterback prospect spurning the in-state program and the South all together for Greg Schiano and Rutgers, the timing was questioned as much as the destination, but the significance of the decision was not. The Owensboro (Ky.) star, a dual-threat responsible for 33 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 total yards in 2020, represents the most significant optical commitment of Schiano's second era in Piscataway to date.
If the offer list, which included Notre Dame, Oregon, Michigan, Ole Miss and some 15 others, isn't an indicator of the significance of the victory just take the social media reaction into account. From the McCourty twins in the NFL to Eric LeGrand, national columnists and even folks in the NFL community, there is a sense the 6'3", 200-pound Wimsatt's decision reverberated throughout the college football landscape.
Wimsatt is not only a strong fit for the new-look offense at RU, he's a winner. The program he led failed just once in 2020, the state title game, providing the grounds for what should be a head-turning senior season in the Bluegrass State. As a junior, few signal-callers operated with the grace and apparent ease the new Scarlet Knight pledge showed on tape. Sure, the numbers were strong, but the visual version as both a passer and runner tells the bigger story.
As a passer, there is playmaking oozing out of his right arm, whether in the pocket or on the move. He can stand tall and deliver to all three levels with velocity, he shows touch in throwing down the field and is willing to take chances with his arm in order to push vertically, some of the hallmarks of the modern quarterback. The release is fluid and effortless. When Wimsatt tucks and runs, he takes long strides and chunks of yardage with him without much wasted movement along with a sense of protecting his frame in the open field.
Rocco Becht to Iowa State
In our April QB Domino Report this week, we explained how Becht could sit and wait for more P5 programs to join Iowa State and Ole Miss in the race for his pledge, but with the Cyclones on him longer than most, he pulled the trigger sooner than we anticipated on Friday afternoon. A rock solid junior season and an impressive offseason this spring, including his Elite 11 Orlando effort (video above), has us higher on the Cyclone commitment than we stood six months ago.
In the fall, Becht led Wesley Chapel (Fla.) Wiregrass Ranch into the state playoffs by improving his completion percentage, yards per game and touchdowns per game relative to his sophomore season. A compact and well-built prospect, and the son of former NFL tight end Anthony Becht, the rising-senior recruit has a stellar release speed and is as comfortable throwing on the run as any passer in the Sunshine State this cycle.
Iowa State took less than 20 prospects in the 2021 cycle so there could be room for a big haul now that Becht is in the fold. He is just the second verbal commitment for Matt Campbell to date, but landing a known commodity in the Sunshine State won't hurt its chances to surge in the offseason. Cyclone resources in Florida have been fruitful in year's past and the current roster features 13 players from the state with the bulk of them from the greater Tampa area Becht hails from.
Alex Orji to Virginia Tech
Texas has no shortage of FBS signal callers in the 2022, something we could probably say in most recent years, and the Hokies landed the commitment of a Texan for the second straight year. Of course last year's initial commitment, Dematrius Davis, wound up changing his mind and signing with Auburn even through a coaching change atop the program. Sachse (Texas) star Alex Orji will look to change that perception of the Hokies in the Lone Star State.
The most capable runner among those making decisions of late at the position, and the biggest 6'3", 225 pounds, Orji had dual-threat and/or athlete offers across America but he'll get his shot in the QB room in Blacksburg. Arm strength is present at the tail-end of an elongated motion, but the raw tools are there. Experience, coming off of his first year as the starter, along with progression improvement will round out his game.
Where there is little doubt about Orji's game is as the focal point of a running offense. The size, movement skills relative to said size and vision helped him to 926 yards and 15 rushing scores in just eight games in 2020. As he develops into a more consistent passer, it doesn't take much imagination to consider Justin Fuente utilizing the junior as a package player early on. The Hokies also have another QB on the commitment list in Georgia native Devin Farrell, a more accomplished passer at this stage.
On the other hand, one can't have enough passers in the QB room in the era of the transfer portal. One also can't spend enough time in the Lone Star State looking at the position, as Orji is already the eighth Texan in the class of 2022 to commit to a Power 5 program, being the second this week following Drew Dickey to Vanderbilt Monday.
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