5 QB Commitments That Have Shaped 2015 Recruiting Landscape
Quality quarterback play is pivotal throughout every level of football, but stability at the position pays off at the collegiate level long before a player takes his first snap. Quarterback prospects can serve as catalysts for recruiting classes, providing incentive for other offensive playmakers to pledge to a program.
Each quarterback commit also acts like a falling domino, further altering the recruiting landscape as programs search for alternative options and other passers step into the spotlight. We review the 2015 recruiting cycle so far, highlighting five decisions that changed the course of how teams approach an impressive crop of passers.
Ricky Town Commits to USC
Ricky Town appeared headed for a relatively anticlimactic journey to national signing day. The 5-star Ventura, California, product picked Alabama from a long list of options nearly a month before his junior season started.
The Crimson Tide claimed a commitment from a prospect rated No. 2 among pro-style passers in 247Sports' composite rankings. With an elite quarterback in place, Nick Saban turned his attention elsewhere and continued to assemble a class that currently tops national rankings.
Those dynamics changed in late January, when Town announced a change of plans. He backed out of his pledge to Alabama and immediately flipped to USC, becoming the blue-chip foundation of Steve Sarkisian's class.
Town, who tossed 25 touchdown passes in 2013, completed 70 percent of his attempts for more than 2,300 yards as a junior. His decision took USC out of the running for multiple quarterback targets and cast doubt on the future of longtime pledge David Sills.
Meanwhile, Alabama was left with a gaping hole in an otherwise well-rounded recruiting class. The Crimson Tide are still searching for Town's replacement five months later.
Josh Rosen Commits to UCLA
The battle for Los Angeles extends into the recruiting realm, where UCLA and USC constantly square off for key prospects. The Bruins, more desperate for an instant-impact quarterback than the crosstown rival Trojans, needed to respond to USC's acquisition of Ricky Town.
Head coach Jim Mora waited just two months to provide a big-time answer. Less than a week after he visited Michigan, 5-star quarterback Josh Rosen elected to announce his commitment to UCLA.
Rosen, rated No. 1 nationally among pro-style passers, had his pick of practically every program in the country. The Bruins were viewed a strong favorite as he headed toward a decision, but Michigan clearly made a late push and turned heads by hosting him on campus.
With UCLA locked in at quarterback, the Bruins have maintained a commitment from top-ranked tight end Aliz'e Jones and added 4-star wide receiver L.J. Reed in late April. The Bruins could look to hand over the starting job to Rosen as a true freshman if Brett Hundley bolts for the NFL after his redshirt junior season.
After whiffing on a top target, the Wolverines looked elsewhere to address its quarterback need. Michigan ultimately landed in-state passer Alex Malzone in May.
Brady White Commits to Arizona State
Brady White is occasionally overlooked when examining the elite members of a loaded California quarterback class, but the 4-star Los Angeles County playmaker has potential to emerge as the best of the bunch. By the time May arrived, both Rosen and Town had revealed their collegiate intentions, leaving White as a top target for those who missed out.
His choice came down to three Pac-12 programs and an East Coast option, as he explained to B/R earlier this month. White focused on Oregon, Cal, Arizona State and Penn State during the final stages of his decision-making process.
After a second campus visit to Tempe, he was ready to go public with a commitment. White, who passed for 4,535 yards and 41 touchdowns, picked Arizona State on May 2.
Rated No. 3 nationally among pro-style passers in 247Sports' composite rankings, he joined Rosen as a premier passer to turn down Cal at the finish line. His decision also applied pressure on Oregon to land 5-star Texas passer Kyler Murray.
Penn State, unable to lure the coveted quarterback across the country, focused its attention on Brandon Wimbush. The 4-star dual-threat talent from New Jersey joined the Nittany Lions' class just four days later.
Kyler Murray Commits to Texas A&M
After missing on Brady White, Oregon went all-in with its pursuit of 5-star Texan Kyler Murray. The Dallas area standout is 27-0 as a starter with two state titles and gaudy statistics.
The Ducks, who hosted him for a campus visit in April, appeared to be the only legitimate threat to Texas A&M as his recruitment evolved. Murray, the son of former Aggies star quarterback Kevin Murray, seemed to fit Oregon's uptempo attack with a special mix of arm strength and rushing ability.
The Allen High School standout threw for 3,669 yards and 46 touchdowns in 2013, adding another 1,274 yards and 19 scores on the ground. He announced a decision on May 28.
Murray made up his mind to follow family footsteps to College Station. The Ducks were left scrambling for another option.
California prospect and longtime Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett quickly rose to the forefront. The 4-star passer pledged to Notre Dame but began doubting his devotion to the Fighting Irish as things progressed.
He visited Oregon during the first week of June and decommitted from Notre Dame days later. The Ducks are viewed as the favorite to land Barnett, while the Irish responded by sending offers to Anaheim star Travis Waller and Texas Tech commit Jarrett Stidham.
Zach Gentry Commits to Texas
Zach Gentry looked like a strong fit for a pair of SEC teams with in search of a 2015 quarterback. Both Alabama and Tennessee extended offers early this year.
Nick Saban presented a scholarship opportunity one month after losing his grips on Ricky Town. The Volunteers, likely to take two passers during this cycle, joined the pursuit while maintaining persistent efforts with 5-star Florida quarterback Torrance Gibson.
Gentry visited Knoxville in late March and spent time in Tuscaloosa three weeks later. He revealed a final four of Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma State during a conversation with with Rivals.com reporter Rob Cassidy (subscription required).
After checking out each campus, the 6'7", 230-pound New Mexico prospect announced Texas as his choice on May 12. He provided first-year Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong with a recruit to build around, while prolonging the quarterback search for his other finalists.
Oklahoma State didn't experience the same desperation at the position as Alabama and Tennessee. The Cowboys landed 3-star in-state quarterback John Kolar earlier this year.
Alabama and Tennessee offered late-rising Texas quarterback Quinten Dormady as the school year ended. He committed to the Vols on June 9.
Alabama has also offered Southern California talent Travis Waller and appears to be a possible landing spot for former Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett. Tennessee is the current favorite for Gibson, but Auburn is also a strong contender in that race.