the lookout list: QB
By Alex Chinery
With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books its time to shift focus towards the 2020 college football season. With titans of the college game like Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa moving on to NFL pastures new, a new generation of passers will take their turn to be thrust into the spotlight. You may know names such as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, but the two blue bloods are joined by a stellar class of quarterbacks in 2020.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson Tigers
College football’s newest phenom returns to school for his junior season, fresh off losing his first game at the college level. The Tigers quarterback had a blip at the beginning of his sophomore season, throwing eight interceptions in his first seven games. However the level of Lawrence’s play would improve to end the season and he would lead the Tigers to another National Championship Game appearance. Another berth in the biggest game of the year is the bare minimum for a Clemson team considered the favourites for the national title this season. Lawrence himself will look at the season had by Joe Burrow for LSU last year and see a bar to surpass, with an easier schedule and weapons almost on par with his adversary from last season. Only time will tell if Lawrence can eclipse him.
Key Game – @ Notre Dame 8th November 2020
Trey Lance, North Dakota State
A top athlete with a cannon for an arm, Trey Lance led North Dakota State to a third successive national title (their eighth in nine years) in his first season. What is even more incredible is that Lance did it all without throwing a single interception. The redshirt freshman runs an offense that features plenty of play action and roll-outs from the pocket, which allows Lance to use his legs to create plays. The FCS level is not as popular as its division 1 brother the FBS, but NDSU are going to be worth watching at every opportunity and Lance is one of the big reasons why!
Key Game – @ Oregon 5th September
Justin Fields, Ohio State
After a fairytale first season in Columbus, Justin Fields must take another step forward if he is to propel an Ohio State team that has lost a huge chunk of its 2019 contributors to the NFL. Top wide receiver Chris Olave is still in town and former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon joins Master Teague in the backfield. Fields was responsible for 53 touchdowns in 2019 (43 passing, 10 rushing) whilst turning the ball over just three times. A similar season will be needed to continue to dominate the Big Ten which includes an improving Penn State. If Fields can repeat the performances of his sophomore season then the gap between him and Lawrence as the number one overall quarterback in next years draft may not be as wide as people imagine.
Key Game – @ Penn State 26th October 2020
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Number four might be higher than you expected me to have Slammin’ Sammy Ehlinger, even with the inbuilt bias of my Texas fandom. The hometown hero goes in to his senior season with a lot of intrigue after an up and down season in an archaic offense a season ago. Tom Herman responded by adding a new offsensive co-ordinator. And with future first round pick Sam Cosmi at left tackle and a host of 4* receivers headlined by 6-3 junior Brennan Eagles, Sam has the idea conditions to have a breakout season in his last one under center for the Longhorns. New OC Mike Yurcich had a big impact on Justin Fields’ game in limited time last season, and getting the same jump from Sam will be his top priority in Austin. With a new scheme and a supporting cast that is maturing into a real force expect Sam to have a big year; it won’t be a year like the one just had by Joe Burrow, but a 50 touchdown (both rushing and passing) showing isn’t out of the question.
Key Game – @ LSU September 12th
Jamie Newman, Georgia
The Wake Forest transfer comes in to a Georgia offense that has been amongst college football’s most archaic in the last few seasons. The Jake Fromm Bulldogs were often efficient but not overly fun to watch. The addition of Newman signals a new direction for this team. Newman is a true dual threat play maker who will bring a new element to this offense. The return of breakout receiver George Pickens is really the only crumb of comfort for a team that lost its starting QB, RB, and both starting OT’s to the NFL draft. Newman has a chance to make this team his own and make his mark in an SEC conference that lost a lot of quarterback talent to the NFL this last spring. If Newman can make the leap and beat out fellow QB transfer JT Daniels (should The Bulldogs choose not to sit him), Georgia will be dark horse contenders in the postseason.
Key Game – @ Florida October 31st
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
The leader of PJ Fleck’s exciting Gopher offense of a year ago, Morgan threw for 300+ yards, 30 touchdowns and just 7 picks in 2019. Morgan possesses above average athleticism and whilst his arm isn’t a cannon, he has more than enough arm strength to complete some pretty downfield throws. Considered by the majority to be the number two quarterback in the Big 10 conference behind Justin Fields of Ohio State, Morgan actually posted better numbers than Fields in some efficiency categories. The Golden Gopher didn’t quite reach Fields’ heights in terms of touchdowns but he is still a top player in the Big 10.
There are some questions around Morgan’s accuracy and decision making. The scheme that Minny runs is pretty basic with Fleck trying to take decisions away from his quarterback. Morgan will need to take on some more complex play calls if he is to be considered a first round talent come next spring. However, with Morgan at the helm as is, the Gophers should be considered the second favourite in the Big 10…
Key Game – vs Michigan 17th October
Brock Purdy, Iowa State
A player than could easily be considered as the top passer in the Big 12, Purdy has had two very solid years as a starter in Ames. After losing a lot of talent on offense before the 2019 season Purdy still took a step forward throwing for almost 4000 yards in Matt Campbell’s offense. His sophomore season was an improvement but the team didn’t hit the heights many expected. Purdy has solid arm strength and is pretty accurate, and mediocre athleticism is enough to make him a threat to make throws on the move without him being a true dual threat QB. A Big 12 title and 4000 yds/35+ tds in his junior season would put Purdy firmly in the first round conversation. I think he has a chance to make it happen.
Key Game – @ Texas 21st November
D'Eriq King, Miami (FL)
The diminutive playmaker transferred from Houston under a cloud after sitting out last season to preserve his eligibility. A talented dual threat player King gives Miami something they haven’t had in years at the position; a fun play maker. King’s last full season in 2018 saw him contribute 50 touchdowns for a Houston team went a disappointing 8-5 despite King’s antics. King joins a Miami roster with a potential first round pick at Tight End in Brevin Jordan and a solid but by no means elite offensive line. With the ACC unlikely to be wrestled from Clemson’s grasp for the next few seasons this year should be one focused on working towards an elite bowl game invitation.
Key Game – vs Pitt 3rd October
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
The Texas A&M starter returns for his senior season with question marks hanging over his ability to get it done at the top level of college football. His numbers dipped last season when many expected Mond to take the next step, but the gauntlet of quality opponents should be taken into account. At the same time, that didn’t stop Joe Burrow. The schedule this year is much easier, however A&M still have to travel to Alabama twice to face both The Tide and Auburn. Add in an early season trip to Arkansas that has upset potential and whilst A&M should start off the 2020 season with some momentum there is a definite chance for everything to go wrong. Mond is a dual threat play maker who will contribute to what is sure to be an exciting offense. A 40 touchdown season would see him flying up draft boards as the season progresses. I am sceptical if Mond has it in him, but wouldn’t be totally shocked to see him be the breakout guy in 2020.
Key Game – @ Alabama 21st November
Sam Howell, North Carolina (Not Draft Eligible)
True freshman Sam Howell burst on to the scene when he led the UNC Tar Heels to a huge win over South Carolina in week 1 of the 2019 season. Legendary head coach Mack Brown made his return to Chapel Hill that day, and Howell’s two touchdown performance sent waves of hype through campus. Howell threw multiple touchdowns in every game last season including in a win over Miami in week two. Perhaps the most memorable performance came against Clemson as Howell led the team on a memorable touchdown drive to cut The Tiger’s lead to 1 with time up. The Tar Heels couldn’t convert the two point conversion they attempted and fell just short of a memorable upset. UNC doesn’t play Clemson this season, but they do play Auburn in a tasty week two match up. A solid performance in that game and a strong season should position Howell as the heir to Trevor Lawrence’s CFB throne…
Key Game – @ Miami (FL) 24th October
the head of seven step drop, the touchdowns analytics page. alex is a Texas longhorns and green bay packers fan. he is one of the college chaps trio and produces the touchdown nfl podcast!