Most Underrated 2015 College Football QB Recruits

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystMay 22, 2014

Most Underrated 2015 College Football QB Recruits

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    Atlanta QB Kevin Johnson
    Atlanta QB Kevin JohnsonCredit: 247Sports

    Many of the marquee names in the 2015 quarterback class have already announced commitments, while a flurry of pledges can be expected at the position this summer. Programs that whiffed on top targets early during the recruiting cycle must reassess their board and look for other options.

    There are plenty of promising passers still waiting for their recruitment to reach another level. For some, that time is nearing.

    These prospects may not carry the nationwide star notoriety that college football fans crave, but they're capable of elevating a program's offensive attack in the near future. We examined five notable quarterbacks who appear underrated when you match their game film to offer sheets and composite rankings.

Sam Darnold (San Clemente, Calif.)

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    Size: 6'4", 208 pounds

    School: San Clemente High School

    Current Ranking: No. 34 dual-threat quarterback

     

    Why He Should be Higher

    Sam Darnold had a chance to step up at the Oakland Elite 11 competition, going up against a collection of 4-star prospects that included Brett Rypien (Washington commit) and Brady White (Arizona State). He did just that, surprising many by seizing a coveted spot in Elite 11 nationals.

    A broken foot cost him most of his 2013 season, setting the stage for him to become a major under-the-radar recruit. He impressed during limited action as a sophomore and junior, completing 65 percent of his passes for 748 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions, per MaxPreps.

    Darnold fires the ball with legitimate velocity, surveying action downfield while maintaining solid footwork for a guy who is still growing into his large physical frame. He's also a powerful short-yardage rusher who can keep the ball in his hands at the goal line.

     

    College Outlook

    A limited track record and injury issues slowed things down for Darnold during the early stages of his recruitment. Utah offered after his sophomore season, but the pace didn't pick up until this spring.

    Tennessee, Northwestern, Duke, Wake Forest and San Diego State have offered in May. Expect increased interest to arise this summer as teams develop an accurate assessment of his skill set.

James Morgan (Green Bay, Wis.)

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    Size: 6'4", 205 pounds

    School: Ashwaubenon High School

    Current Ranking: No. 20 pro-style quarterback

     

    Why He Should be Higher

    This Titletown standout thrives in a community that is rich in football tradition. James Morgan torches opponents with downfield precision and improvisational skills, looking the part of a confident leader.

    He stands tall in the pocket and doesn't disregard lower-body technique when hurried, maintaining his ability to lead receivers on long-distance routes. When forced to scramble, he does a nice job of coordinating traffic and allowing his targets to settle into space before firing the football through a pocket in coverage.

    Morgan made significant strides as a decision-maker last season, throwing for career-high marks in yards (2,500) and touchdown passes (26). Given his physical stature and willingness to challenge defensive backs, he offers plenty of promise for whichever program signs him.

     

    College Outlook

    Morgan has made several campus stops since last fall, including Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa. Still he has yet to land an offer from any former BCS-level program, though Minnesota is a possibility that stands out in the Big Ten.

    He is a hot commodity in the Mid-American Conference. Central Michigan extended a scholarship in February, while Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green offered in early May.

Demry Croft (Rockford, Ill.)

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Size: 6'6", 185 pounds

    School: Boylan High School

    Current Ranking: No. 13 dual-threat quarterback

     

    Why He Should be Higher

    The raw athleticism and length are impossible to ignore when you watch Demry Croft go to work against defenses. He relied on those assets more than pure fundamentals in 2013, but it's clear this prospect could become very special after spending a couple of seasons in a structured college offense.

    Croft completed 62 percent of his passes for nearly 1,900 yards and 16 scores as a junior. He flashed some serious wheels, rushing for 685 yards and 12 touchdowns as a long-striding threat in the open field.

    He certainly needs to bulk up in order to survive the rigors of being a multidimensional quarterback at the next level, but that will come with weight training. In a class filled with high-profile dual-threat athletes, Croft could be the surprise of the bunch.

     

    College Outlook

    Buffalo, Akron and Colgate offered this spring. He recently visited Illinois and Western Michigan, according to 247Sports reporter Steve Wiltfong.

    It wouldn't be shocking if Croft committed to a team that elects to take two quarterbacks in this class. If he doesn't pan out as a passer, programs could view him as a tight end or wide receiver prospect down the line.

Reese Ryan (Lexington, Ky.)

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Size: 6'2", 170 pounds

    School: Lexington Catholic High School

    Current Ranking: No. 19 pro-style quarterback

     

    Why He Should be Higher

    Reese Ryan doesn't have a rocket for an arm like some of the more touted quarterback recruits in this class, but his accuracy is outstanding. He fits passes into tight spaces and understands the nuances of when to leave a little air underneath the ball.

    Power alone won't get you very far in college if you're firing bullets at receivers' feet. Ryan, who threw for 3,347 yards and 37 touchdowns as a junior, is poised in the pocket and clearly senses when time is running out as defenders approach.

    His ability to throw accurately on the run is crucial. He carves teams up in the intermediate passing game, making quick decisions and delivering on timing patterns.

     

    College Outlook

    Ryan received offers from Illinois and Louisville in 2013 but hasn't added many alternative options. The Cardinals currently feature a different coaching staff than the one that extended the scholarship, so there may be some uncertainty there.

    Kentucky landed No. 1 in-state recruit Drew Barker during the 2014 cycle and may not be aiming to add another homegrown product at the position this time around. Indiana is another Big Ten team to watch, as Ryan visited the Hoosiers last fall.

Kevin Johnson (Atlanta, Ga.)

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    Size: 6'0", 171 pounds

    School: Pace Academy

    Current Ranking: No. 31 dual-threat quarterback

     

    Why He Should be Higher

    Pro-style offensive schemes likely won't fit Kevin Johnson's skill set in college, but he has the potential to flourish in a variety of option attacks. What stands out about him is his ability to keep defenders off-balance with his versatility, especially along the defensive front.

    More shifty than speedy, he creates issues with his mobility. This strength can be enhanced at the next level when paired with a talented running back or two in the backfield.

    Johnson exhibits above-average accuracy on throws of all distances, and that's really the selling point for him as a passer. He won't fire the ball through a crowd of collegiate defenders, but his touch on tosses along the sidelines and down the seam is far more polished than many of his contemporaries in this class.

     

    College Outlook

    Some squads might rather welcome Johnson to campus as a receiver, where his athleticism translates favorably in the slot. It's a position he's played in high school, but there will still be plenty of options if he'd prefer to give quarterback a shot in college (and, honestly, he should).

    Georgia Tech, UCF, Illinois and Marshall are among his offers. It isn't hard to imagine Johnson lining up behind center for the Yellow Jackets, orchestrating coach Paul Johnson's triple-option offense.

     

    All recruit information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.