College Football Recruiting QB Rankings 2015: Top 10 After The Opening
A crowded crop of top-tier quarterbacks spent the second week of July testing their skills at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Premier passers from across the country competed in the Elite 11 finals and The Opening, an annual high school football showcase that featured more than 150 prospects.
Tasked with rapid play-calling instructions and facing elite defenders, several 2015 quarterbacks rose to the occasion with impressive performances. Others struggled at times, which suggests they still have significant strides to make before taking their talents to the next level.
Here's a look at the position's top 10 players, based on freshly updated 247Sports composite rankings.
This article is a part of Bleacher Report's CFB 200 Recruiting Rankings Series. The overall rankings are based off of 247Sports Composite, which takes into account every recruiting services rankings. The positional rankings also come from those rankings. Stay tuned over the next two weeks as we take an in-depth look at college football's stars of tomorrow.
10. Deondre Francois, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
247Sports Crystal Ball Prediction: Florida State (92 percent); Auburn (8 percent)
Deondre Francois came out firing on the first day of Elite 11 action, showing he belonged with an outstanding group of passers. He was one of the few remaining uncommitted recruits in attendance, though that will change later this month when he is expected to choose between Florida State and Auburn.
The 6'1", 195-pound passer isn't physically imposing but produces a ton of power on throws. He flashed a cannon on several occasions, stealing the show early in Oregon.
His accuracy appeared to erode during latter stages of the week, which may have been due to arm fatigue. Regardless, Francois doesn't exhibit precision with regularity yet.
However, he has spent the offseason working with former Florida State star Chris Weinke, his new high school coach. Lessons from the Heisman Trophy winner could go a long way in his development.
"I've already learned so much about playing the position from Coach Weinke," Francois said. "I know he's going to help me become a better quarterback."
Raw talent and a rocket arm combine to make Francois the proverbial "high-ceiling" quarterback prospect of this class.
9. Drew Lock, Lee's Summit High School (Lee's Summit, Missouri)
Committed to: Missouri
During a five-day stretch of drills and completion, several people asked, "Who is that kid with the long hair?"
By the end of action in Oregon, everyone knew Drew Lock. The 6'5", 195-pound prospect has the measurements and skills to develop into a feared passer for years to come.
He's flown slightly under the radar during a recruiting cycle heavy on West Coast quarterbacks but proved he belongs in the upper echelon with a tremendous week of work. Lock, the son of a former Missouri offensive lineman, showed off a strong arm from start to finish and dazzled with his pocket presence.
Though he still has a tendency to underutilize his lower body on pass attempts, the tools are in place for stardom in college. Lock, who threw for 3,062 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2013, is also a standout basketball player and exhibits athleticism that's rare to find in a player with his physical frame.
"I've been working to improve every part of my game, and this is a really good opportunity to continue to do that," Lock said after an Elite 11 session.
As he continues to build his relatively slender physique, his velocity will only increase. Few passers combine accuracy and power as consistently as Lock, who could develop into a thinner version of Joe Flacco.
8. Brandon Wimbush, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, New Jersey)
Committed to: Penn State
Few quarterbacks did more to raise their stock in Beaverton than Brandon Wimbush, who looked like a much-improved passer from his junior season. The 6'2", 205-pound Garden State prospect flexed his muscles drill after drill, firing lasers that some receivers had trouble grabbing because the ball came in so hot.
He launched straight-line darts 30 yards downfield with elite precision that drew strong reaction from coaches and media on the sidelines. Wimbush still needs to work on his deep-ball touch in terms of adding a little more arc, but he has the power to deliver the ball down the field in a vertical passing attack.
Though he threw just 15 touchdown passes as a junior, expect him to make strides on the field this fall and emerge as a force to be reckoned with while orchestrating a dangerous air assault. Despite the success, Wimbush didn't take anything for granted during his time in Beaverton.
"I thought I did good, but I think I could've been better," Wimbush said after a phenomenal first Elite 11 session. "I want to come out tomorrow morning ready to go and prove why I'm here."
Penn State fans should be excited about the future after Christian Hackenberg heads to the NFL.
7. Brady White, Hart High School (Santa Clarita, California)
Committed to: Arizona State
Brady White has been on the radar as a top California quarterback for a while now, but he gave more heralded passers from his home state a run for their money in Beaverton. The 6'2", 190-pound passer displayed precision on all kinds of throws and seemed to sync with unfamiliar receivers quicker than other competitors.
He never sacrifices accuracy, regardless of the passing distance, and can flash or harness his velocity depending on the play. White moves extremely well in the pocket and is diligent in implementing lower-body mechanics on every toss.
There's also a sense of urgency in everything he does. That's an impressive trait for teenage passers, who tend to grow lackadaisical at times.
White knew the spotlight was on him in Oregon, and he shined under the pressure. He's willing to take risks and has the talent to thread throws through traffic toward his intended target.
Players seemed to gravitate toward him during drills, and there's a lot to like about his approach to the game. He's already expanded his rather slender frame and plans to pack on more weight before heading to Arizona State.
White drew comparisons to former Boise State star Kellen Moore during The Opening. He plans to enroll early and exudes confidence about his ability to contribute immediately.
"It's crucial for me to enroll early if I want to potentially be the starter," White said. "The competition is going to be fun. We're each going to get after it. I'm going in there swinging, and hopefully I'll earn the respect of my teammates. Starting as a freshman would be a dream come true."
6. Travis Waller, Servite High School (Anaheim, California)
Committed to: Oregon
Several Ducks fans showed up during the final day of action at The Opening to catch a glimpse of their new quarterback commit. Travis Waller didn't disappoint and even signed some footballs for young admirers.
The 6'3", 190-pound signal-caller looked slightly erratic during the early stages of the Elite 11 finals but progressively found his groove and finished the week with more consistency. He threw a touchdown pass during late stages of a blowout victory in the seven-on-seven championship game.
Waller will continue to improve as a passer, especially when he shortens his elongated delivery that exposes the football behind him for defenders. He packs plenty of zip on intermediate throws and can loft the ball downfield with above-average touch.
You also must take his rushing abilities into account. Waller gained 1,293 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground as a junior, when he threw for 1,669 yards and 12 scores.
His skill set seems to be an ideal fit for the Oregon offense. He committed to the team earlier this month and is already looking ahead at the opportunity to make some noise in Eugene.
"I think Oregon is a great fit for me and gives me a chance to do the things I do best," Waller said. "I can't wait to get up there and get better."
5. Ricky Town, St. Bonaventure High School (Ventura, California)
Committed to: USC
Ricky Town, who flipped to the Trojans from Alabama in January, routinely flashes a high football IQ and doesn't make immature mistakes that so often occur when young quarterbacks try to make plays. His delivery and mechanics are polished. He places passes where only his receiver can reel in the ball.
Despite being thrown an array of new information during Elite 11 action, he processed things quickly. Town never appeared hesitant and took command of each play's progression. However, the 6'4", 205-pound prospect is far from a finished product.
There are times when he appears far too robotic in the pocket, not giving the impression of smoothness that several other top-tier passers exhibited. Town's technique wasn't nearly as effortless as some of his contemporaries.
He endured an up-and-down performance during seven-on-seven action, being handily outplayed by fellow California quarterback Blake Barnett in the championship game.
Town dropped from No. 1 overall to No. 20 in 247Sports rankings this week. Still, given his accuracy, smarts and stature, there's still a lot to like about his eventual role in Steve Sarkisian's offensive attack.
"I'm really excited to get to USC and do whatever I can to make something special happen there in the future," Town said.
4. Blake Barnett, Santiago High School (Corona, California)
Committed to: Alabama
The Elite 11 MVP gives everyone another reason to envy Nick Saban's recruiting success. Blake Barnett doesn't come from a California powerhouse and has been slotted below multiple in-state contemporaries during the majority of his recruitment, but that perception changed for good in Oregon.
The 6'4.5", 200-pound prospect established himself as a truly elite prospect without even showcasing rushing skills that resulted in 695 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground in 2013. Though he wasn't running downfield, Barnett displayed superb athleticism while moving around in the pocket and going through his progressions.
He proved he can make pinpoint passes along the sidelines and routinely burned defensive backs with well-placed throws down the seam. Barnett seemed to be part of more highlight plays than any quarterback in seven-on-seven action, and several of them were touchdown passes to fellow Crimson Tide commit Calvin Ridley.
Alabama has enjoyed immense success under Saban, but the formula could change when Barnett arrives in Tuscaloosa. First-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was searching for someone capable of making plays in a variety of ways and found his target in the former Notre Dame commit.
"Coach Kiffin and Coach Saban were very fond about the idea of their quarterback being able to run the ball several times in each game," Barnett said. "It's something they were looking for, and it made sense as a fit for me."
When Barnett teams up with a talented stable of Alabama running backs, SEC defenses should be on high alert.
3. Kyler Murray, Allen High School (Allen, Texas)
Committed to: Texas A&M
Midway through the first day of Elite 11 finals, Kyler Murray and Johnny Manziel chatted for a few minutes on the 50-yard line. It felt like we were watching the Aggies legend lending advice to a young quarterback capable of embarking on his own memorable run in College Station, Texas.
Perhaps, the conversation didn't go quite that far.
"We just talked as bros," Murray said. "He's been there for me."
The 5'10", 180-pound passer has been nothing short of a prodigy during his high school career. Through two seasons as a starter, he is 27-0 with two state championships and eye-popping production.
Murray, a dangerous rushing threat, compiled more than 8,000 total yards and 107 touchdowns in those 27 victories. The son of former Texas A&M star quarterback Kevin Murray has quickly made a name for himself.
His physical stature causes some to doubt his collegiate potential, but he is arguably the most fundamentally advanced passer in this class. From footwork to release, it's easy to fall in love with Murray's mechanics.
The ball comes out crisp and on point. He shined in accuracy drills throughout his time in Oregon and understood the timing of his receivers' routes.
Kyle Allen, the No. 1 quarterback prospect of 2014, could serve as a roadblock to playing time at Texas A&M, but expect Murray to lead the Aggies offense with proficiency when his time comes.
2. Jarrett Stidham, Stephenville High School (Stephenville, Texas)
Committed to: Texas Tech
The Red Raiders may have found a diamond in the rough by landing Jarrett Stidham, who continues to command heavy interest from Notre Dame, Oregon and Baylor. He may have been a largely unknown commodity during early stages of his recruitment process, but the secret is out.
A strong summer has altered Stidham's trajectory and reshaped his national image, skyrocketing him to the No. 2 spot in the 247Sports composite rankings. The 6'3.5", 190-pound signal-caller was a first-year starter behind center last fall, torching opponents for 2,613 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air.
His legs are also a major asset, as evidenced by 821 rushing yards and 14 rushing scores. Now rated the top dual-threat quarterback in this class, Stidham flashes elite athleticism and actually starred as a receiver during his sophomore season (50 receptions for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns).
It's apparent he's grown into his new role, and he looked mechanically refined during Elite 11 action.
"I feel more comfortable right now than ever before," Stidham said.
He dissected defenses during seven-on-seven action, going through his progressions quickly before arriving at quality decisions down the field. As Stidham gains continued experience at the position, he could become the premier passer of this recruiting cycle.
1. Josh Rosen, St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, California)
Committed to: UCLA
Josh Rosen retains the top spot among 2015 quarterback prospects, though the gap appears to be closing after outstanding efforts from Stidham, Murray and Barnett. The 6'4", 205-pound passer looks the part of a program-changer who could serve as the face of a college team from the start of his freshman season.
"I'd love to take snaps on opening day," Rosen said. "I'm going to work as hard as I can to make that happen."
Those aspirations are realistic given the strong possibility that current Bruins starter Brett Hundley will enter the NFL draft following his redshirt junior campaign. Rosen, who threw for 3,200 yards and 39 touchdowns during a state title run in 2013, is ready to compete at the collegiate level from several standpoints.
His footwork is impeccable, as he consistently establishes a strong base before letting the ball fly. Rosen was the cream of the crop in the "pocket conflict" drill at the Elite 11 finals, smoothly maneuvering away from oncoming pressure before re-establishing his platform and finding a downfield target.
The confidence and poise are in place for Rosen to command respect in a college huddle next fall.
All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.
Recruit information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.