Although a handful of top quarterbacks will not be playing in the fall, the 2020 college football season still has an impressive group of talent at the position.
Clemson star Trevor Lawrence is the sport's most recognizable signal-caller, and he's clearly No. 1. That much should surprise exactly zero people who have watched the last two seasons.
While the choices are subjective, the order is based on a blend of individual talent, past performance and 2020 expectations.
The second factor—past performance—is noteworthy because new starters were not considered for the rankings. You can include them! We're going to wait a little longer, though.
1st-Year Starters and More QBs Considered
New Full-Year Starters
- Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
- Mac Jones, Alabama
- Myles Brennan, LSU
More QBs Considered
- JT Daniels, Georgia
- Dillon Gabriel, UCF
- Shane Buechele, SMU
- Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
- Bo Nix, Auburn
- Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State
- K.J. Costello, Mississippi State
- Charlie Brewer, Baylor
- Micale Cunningham, Louisville
8. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Florida coach Dan Mullen has a knack for developing quarterbacks and putting them in a position to succeed. Look no further than Kyle Trask, a longtime backup who replaced an injured Feleipe Franks and threw for 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns last year.
Trask is most effective on short and intermediate passes, so Mullen leans on those areas heavily. This gives Trask a bunch of chances to show his poise while working through a progression.
Granted, he needs to improve on downfield throws. Florida must replace his safety outlet—running back Lamical Perine—and four senior receivers. Since the Gators won't necessarily have as much depth behind Kyle Pitts and Trevon Grimes, they'll need Trask to make a few game-changing plays. Connecting on deep passes is key, then.
Thanks to a season of starting experience, there is plenty of reason for optimism about Trask's future.
7. Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
Even though Notre Dame entered the 2018 College Football Playoff as heavy underdogs, the Irish only advanced that far because of Ian Book. And in 2019, the dual-threat quarterback accounted for 3,580 total yards and 38 touchdowns to only six interceptions.
Along with his accuracy—seen in a 63.5 career completion percentage—the senior shows impressive touch on deep passes. Book also has excellent awareness and the quickness to extend plays.
In 2020, his biggest obstacle is Notre Dame must revamp the receiving corps after losing Chase Claypool, Cole Kmet and Chris Finke. The Irish are also adapting to a full ACC schedule.
Aided by a promising defense, Book should have Notre Dame right behind Clemson in the ACC title race.
6. Brady White, QB, Memphis
Even though head coach Mike Norvell left for Florida State, expectations aren't dropping for Memphis senior Brady White.
In two seasons as the starter, White has completed 63.3 percent of his passes at a scorching rate of nine yards per throw. He's racked up 7,310 yards and 59 touchdowns through the air, guiding the Tigers to the AAC championship last year.
White is not a rocket-armed or exceptionally mobile quarterback. If you start looking at NFL draft boards, it's unlikely he'll appear any earlier than a late-round section.
But this ranking isn't about the NFL. For what Memphis does, he's a perfect fit thanks to outstanding timing and accuracy.
5. D'Eriq King, QB, Miami
D'Eriq King accounted for 50 touchdowns at Houston in 2018. Even against lower competition, that's incredible. He's one of six—only six!—players since 2000 to hit the 50-touchdown mark, and King needed only 11 appearances to accomplish it.
Yes, it's reasonable to wonder how effectively it'll translate to Miami after King only played in four games last season. Consider this a deserved benefit of the doubt, though.
King is comfortable in a spread offense that stresses the defense horizontally. He's not a dominant passer but can work through a quick progression to attack the seam or hit a sideline option. Plus, he's electrifying as a runner.
Miami always has enough talent to compete in the ACC, but King might be the key to unlocking the Hurricanes' upside.
4. Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
Both from a mental and game plan perspective, Iowa State leans heavily on Brock Purdy. The team's offensive system demands an intelligent quarterback, and he averaged 44 combined pass and rush attempts last season.
Purdy has met the challenge, crushing school records with 3,982 yards and 27 touchdowns through the air. He totaled 4,231 yards of offense and 35 scores in his second year as a starter.
The next step for Purdy is propelling Iowa State from a mid-tier program to a true Big 12 contender.
For that to happen, the consistency of his decisions needs to match his toughness, quick release, anticipation and ability to create plays on the run. Purdy has checked off those boxes.
3. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
From a pure passing perspective, Sam Ehlinger would be lower on the list. He doesn't have a great arm, which is something you're certain to read when the 2021 NFL draft approaches.
But he doesn't lack production at this level.
Ehlinger amassed 3,774 yards of total offense and 41 touchdowns as a sophomore. Then in 2019, he collected 4,326 offensive yards and 39 scores. Ehlinger is a respected leader, smart quarterback and extremely physical runner.
While his reputation took an understandable hit after Texas dropped from a 10-win 2018—when he declared Texas is back—to 8-5 last season, Ehlinger is a high-quality college quarterback.
2. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Lawrence is the early favorite for No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and Sam Howell is trending that direction for 2022.
North Carolina coach Mack Brown earned his first victory in Chapel Hill when he flipped Howell from his commitment to Florida State. He earned the starting job as a true freshman and ended the season with 3,641 passing yards and 38 touchdowns.
Howell is most impressive on deep passes. If you said there isn't an FBS quarterback with a better combination of mechanics, arm strength and touch, we wouldn't argue.
Since the Heels return a strong majority of their offensive production—especially in wideouts Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown—Howell has no excuse not to thrive in 2020.
1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
While the attention devoted to Lawrence might make it seem otherwise, he's not a perfect player. He battled a mini-sophomore slump to begin 2019. Clemson's offense naturally creates one-on-one opportunities for receivers, and that can result in Lawrence fixating on the primary option and forcing some passes.
That's also nitpicking pretty hard. He's a special talent with a prototypical build for a quarterback.
Practically every buzzword for the position applies to Lawrence, who is calm in the pocket yet able to extend plays. He's an efficient passer both in mechanics and production. He has a strong arm, above-average speed and the willingness to take a hit.
And a 24-1 record as a starter. And two ACC titles, a national championship and another appearance in the title game.
It's not difficult to call Lawrence the best quarterback in the country. The challenge would be arguing he's not atop the list.
All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.