For now, their goals are to win a National Championship. Only one of them—if any of them—will win it, but getting selected in next April's NFL draft isn't a terrible consolation prize.
Here's a look at 10 notable college quarterbacks and their NFL comparisons.
1. Keith Price, Washington
NFL Comparison: Josh Freeman
2. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
NFL Comparison: Tim Tebow
3. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
NFL Comparison: Ryan Fitzpatrick
4. Mike Glennon, North Carolina State
NFL Comparison: Matt Moore
5. Derek Carr, Fresno State
NFL Comparison: T.J. Yates
NFL Comparison: Tom Brady
Barkley's already-solid decision-making has seem to improved a lot, and he is probably the best leader among college quarterbacks in the nation. The fact that Barkley gave up millions of dollars this season to lead USC to a chance at the National Championship just speaks volumes to the type of player he is.
He's slated to be the top pick in April's NFL draft (depending on who gets that pick) and certainly has a good shot at the Heisman Trophy this year.
NFL Comparison: Philip Rivers
Even after losing his head coach to a scandal and his top three receivers to the draft, Wilson still is one of the top quarterback prospects. He has a very strong arm and is capable of making due with the resources he has.
If he can put out a solid year this season, Wilson likely will be the second quarterback taken in April's draft.
NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers
Sure, he plays in a systematic passing offense, but Smith makes it look very good. Not only is he a quality passer but he also is a threat to run the ball if needed.
After his big Week 1 game against Marshall, Smith is undoubtedly a Heisman front-runner. There is absolutely no reason he should fall out of the draft's second round, and he could make a case for being a first-rounder.
Player Comparison: Cam Newton
Thomas is a unique specimen. He's 6'6" and 265 pounds, yet he is very agile and athletic.
Thomas has a strong arm, but he needs to work on his accuracy, as shown in last Monday's game against Georgia Tech. Nevertheless, he has a chance to be one of the top quarterbacks in this draft.
NFL Comparison: Peyton Manning
It might not be that fair to compare Bray to Manning, but after what he did to North Carolina State's David Amerson—one of the top cornerback prospects—I think it's justifiable.
Bray is not very athletic at all, but he has a strong arm and is very accurate. He has to not only stay healthy but also stay out of trouble, and he will end up being a solid NFL quarterback.
NFL Comparison: Tony Romo
Jones is like Romo in almost every sense of the comparison. He's a solid quarterback who could be great, but plays poorly under pressure. In head-to-head matchups against Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden, two quarterbacks drafted in the first round of last year's draft, Jones was shown up.
He has a lot of experience, as he's had substantial playing time in his first three seasons with the Sooners. This season, though, Jones will have to prove that he can win games when needed.
NFL Comparison: Drew Brees
Murray is 6'1", just an inch taller than Brees, and ironically he seems to patent his game around how Brees plays.
Murray's size shouldn't be too much of a concern, as he has just about as much poise as any of the quarterbacks above and below; the problems are his completion percentage and turnovers. He completed under 60 percent of his throws and turned the ball over 17 times last season (14 interceptions, three lost fumbles).
If he can cut down on turnovers, Murray might be able to up his draft stock.
NFL Comparison: Vince Young
I'm talking about playing style here, not as much attitude. Manuel is a much better leader than Young, is just as good an athlete and has just as much of an arm.
His problems are pocket presence and decision-making; Manuel threw an interception in a Week 1 blowout win against Murray State, and overall didn't have a great game. If Manuel wants to stick with an NFL roster, or even a chance to lead Florida State to a national title, he needs to incredibly improve.
NFL Comparison: Michael Vick
Boyd is a great dual-threat quarterback. He has very good pocket presence, but can still make plays on his feet when he needs to, just like Vick.
Another way Boyd resembles Vick is consistency, or lack thereof. Boyd will have a huge game one week, but then the next will disappear.
If he stays consistent, Clemson will once again win the ACC, and his draft stock will bloom.
NFL Comparison: Tim Tebow
Robinson is a great athlete, but great athletes do not always make great NFL quarterbacks.
Michigan played against an NFL-caliber defense in Alabama and got absolutely flattened, Robinson included. Alabama did the exact same thing to Tebow in the 2009 SEC Championship Game.
Robinson will play in the NFL one day as a receiver or running back. He's an explosive playmaker, but his passing mechanics are just plain terrible.