The No. 1 ranked quarterback coming out of high school per the 247 Composite in 2013 was Max Browne. He committed to USC as a junior and was widely considered to be the heir apparent to Matt Barkley’s throne. Expectations were high for Browne, as he would be surrounded by blue-chip talent at every position.
Three years removed from high school, Browne has attempted 19 career passes and accounted for zero touchdowns in a Trojans uniform.
Meanwhile, the No. 2 ranked quarterback coming out of high school in 2013 was Christian Hackenberg. He committed to Penn State and stuck with his pledge despite the Jerry Sandusky scandal that was unfolding at the time. Expectations were low for Hackenberg, who was entering a program with very little stability and talent at the time.
Three years late, Hackenberg has attempted 1,235 passes, thrown for 8,457 yards, and has accounted for 54 total touchdowns in a Nittany Lions uniform. He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season and is widely considered to be a second day pick in the draft.
This is not to say that Browne has been a bust for the Trojans. In fact, he is in a very good position to succeed in his final two years of eligibility. With Cody Kessler, who beat out Browne and Max Wittek for the quarterback job in 2013, moving on to the NFL, Browne is considered the favorite to start heading into 2016.
But this theme of quarterbacks not contributing continues as we move down the list of quarterback recruits from 2013. In that class, 20 pro-style quarterbacks were rated as blue-chip prospects (meaning they garnered either a five or four-star rating). Of those 20 quarterbacks, only seven have attempted more than 100 passes in their first three years of college. Those quarterbacks are as followed:
- Chrisitan Hackenberg, Penn State, No. 2 Pro – 1,235 passes
- Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee, No. 10 Pro – 642 passes
- Jeremy Johnson, Auburn, No. 11 Pro – 235 passes
- Anthony Jennings, LSU, No. 14 Pro – 256 passes
- Jared Goff, California, No. 15 Pro – 1,569 passes
- Danny Etling, Purdue, No. 17 Pro – 429 passes
- Kyle Bolin, Louisville, No. 20 Pro – 215 passes
Of those seven, only three can be considered full-time starters: Hackenberg, Dobbs, and Goff. Jeremy Johnson entered the 2015 season with Heisman hype, but never lived up to expectations and was benched for redshirt freshman Sean White. Anthony Jennings split reps with true freshman Brandon Harris in 2014, but lost the job and did not play in 2015. Finally, Danny Etling and Kyle Bolin both transferred from their original school. Etling is now at LSU while Bolin went to Western Kentucky.
So of the 20 blue-chip pro-style quarterback recruits from 2013, only three went on to become full-time starters in their first three years of college.
If we expand to the dual-threat quarterbacks of 2013, we will see much of the same. From that class, 13 dual-threat quarterbacks were blue-chip recruits. Of those 13, only four have attempted more than 100 passes in their first three years in college. Those names are as followed:
- J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, No. 2 Dual – 461 passes
- Aaron Bailey, Illinois/Northern Iowa, No. 3 Dual – 247 passes
- Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina, No. 6 Dual – 125 passes
- Kenny Hill, Texas A&M, No. 8 Dual – 343 passes
Of those four, only two have become full-time starters. J.T. Barrett is firmly entrenched as Ohio State’s starter and Aaron Bailey, after transferring from Illinois, has made a name for himself at FCS Northern Iowa. Meanwhile, Mitch Trubisky has a chance to win the job at North Carolina this offseason and we’re all familiar with the rise and fall of Kenny “Trill” Hill at Texas A&M. Hill transferred to TCU last year. A notable name here is Malik Zaire, who has attempted 75 passes with Notre Dame, but suffered a broken ankle that kept him from playing the majority of last season for the Fighting Irish. He will battle DeShone Kizer for the job this offseason.
But perhaps the most interesting note as we examine the class of 2013 is the fact that there are several low-ranked recruits that have contributed at a high level. Two of the most notable names are Sefo Liufau and Anu Solomon, the No. 17 and 18 ranked dual-threat quarterbacks. Liufau has started for three years at Colorado and Solomon took over as a redshirt freshman and led Arizona to the Fiesta Bowl in 2014. Brogan Roback, the No. 26 ranked Pro-Style quarterback, has quietly become a starter for Eastern Michigan. John O’Korn, the No. 32 ranked Pro-Style quarterback, started for Houston as a true freshman, transferred to Michigan and is now the favorite to start for the Wolverines in 2016.
Two other three-star quarterbacks that have had success are Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield. The story of the two is well known. In 2013, Webb and several other Texas Tech quarterbacks went down with injury, paving the way for Baker Mayfield to become the first quarterback in NCAA history to start the season opener as a walk-on for a BCS school. Mayfield started for the Red Raiders but was then injured, leading to Webb starting the final half of the season.
Despite being named Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech due to a ‘miscommunication’ with the program. He landed at Oklahoma, but was forced to sit out 2014. In 2015, Mayfield was named the starter and led Oklahoma to an 11-1 record, the Big 12 title, and a berth in the College Football Playoff while finishing fourth in Heisman voting.
Meanwhile, Davis Webb had success at Texas Tech in his sophomore campaign, but was eventually upstaged by true freshman Patrick Mahomes, who earned the starting job in 2015. Recently, Webb announced that he would be transferring to Colorado. In short, Texas Tech landed two of the most successful “under-the-radar” quarterbacks in the 2013 class, each with over 45 career touchdowns through three seasons, but neither are still on their roster.
But while there are a number of quarterbacks who have had success from the 2013 class, the vast majority of quarterbacks from that class have failed to contribute through their first three years in college. In fact, 27 of the top 80 quarterbacks (40 pro-style/40 dual-threat) have never attempted a pass in college.
More so, 52% (42/80) of the Top-80 quarterbacks from the 2013 class are no longer playing quarterback for the team which they originally signed with. Twenty-two quarterbacks have transferred to other schools to continue playing quarterback, nine have changed positions at either the school they originally signed with or a school they transferred to, three are playing either collegiate or professional baseball, and four have quit football due to medical or personal reasons. Turning our attention specifically to blue-chip quarterbacks (both pro-style and dual-threat), we can see that 48% (16/33) of the blue-chip recruits from the 2013 class are no longer playing quarterback for the team they originally signed with out of high school.
The blue-chip quarterbacks who have stayed with their team have not fared well. Shane Morris, the No. 3 pro-style recruit who has started periodically for Michigan, has thrown for no touchdowns and five interceptions. Brice Ramsey at Georgia, the No. 6 pro-style passer, has been moved to mainly a punter role for the Bulldogs. Kevin Olsen, the No. 5 pro-style quarterback, had major off-the-field issues that have caused him to transfer three times in his college career. Olsen has now landed at Charlotte.
Four blue-chip recruits have quit football. Cody Thomas at Oklahoma played for the Sooners for a while, but quit to focus on college baseball. Kohl Stewart and Cord Sandberg, who pledged to Texas A&M and Mississippi State respectively, never stepped foot on a college campus as they went directly to professional baseball. Ryan Buchanan has stepped away from Ole Miss to focus on academics.
In all, the number of recruits from the 2013 class that have developed into solid starters is only around a dozen. They are as followed:
- Jared Goff, California, No. 15 Pro (declared for the 2016 NFL Draft)
- Christian Hackenberg, Penn State, No. 2 Pro (declared for the 2016 NFL Draft)
- Sefo Liufau, Colorado, No. 17 Dual
- Anu Solomon, Arizona, No. 18 Dual
- Davis Webb, Colorado, No. 25 Pro (formerly of Texas Tech)
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, No. 40 Pro (formerly of Texas Tech)
- Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee, No. 10 Pro
- J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, No. 2 Dual
- Chad Kanoff, Princeton, No. 27 Pro (formerly of Vanderbilt)
- Chris Laviano, Rutgers, No. 31 Pro
- Aaron Bailey, Northern Iowa, No. 3 Dual (formerly of Illinois)
- Brogan Roback, Eastern Michigan, No. 26 Pro
So was the class of 2013 a boom or a bust? Well, so far the data tells us that the class has been a bust. Of the Top-80 quarterback recruits, only 24 (30%) have attempted more than 100 passes in the first three years of their college career. More than half have transferred away from the school they originally signed with. Only 15% of the Top-80 quarterbacks have developed into solid starters.
As with all college players, we cannot completely write off these players until they finish their college careers. There is still time for individuals to turn things around. But with only one or two years of eligibility remaining for many of these quarterbacks, time is quickly running out.