No recruiting class will ever be complete without a quarterback, no matter how many QBs are waiting in line on the roster.
New quarterback recruits force competition, guarantee longevity and, if they're well-regarded, increase the profile of the program they commit to.
Three of the 10 top QB prospects of 2011 have already committed. Some of the others are guaranteed future commits to So-and-So University, at least according to those annoying people on your message board
In case their recruiting stories get interesting, click through and get a look at 2011's creme de la creme.
This is where the business of scouting 2011 prospects gets tricky. ESPN lists Darius Jennings at 5'8", 155 lbs. and claims he's an athlete. Scout has him as their No. 4 QB and says he clocks in at 5'11", 175 lbs. That's like two different kids.
For the record, Rivals has him listed as a 5'11" athlete but says he's 165 lbs.!
I'll go with Rivals' evaluation since it looks like he's somewhere in the middle. The No. 4 QB is a pretty high position to put an athlete, and I think Scout is being generous and attesting to his upside as an all-around athlete rather than as a passer.
I'm thinking his skill set is along the lines of Michigan's Denard Robinson—electric with the ball in his hands, accomplished as a passer in high school but barely functional without serious tutoring at the next level.
He looks to be ideally suited for the zone-read but can also play cornerback. Boston College, Penn State, Iowa, Pitt and other traditional offenses join Michigan, Illinois, West Virginia and other athletic offenses in the hunt for his services.
His video can be found here (embedding was disabled).
Like Jennings, CJ Uzomah's future at quarterback is uncertain—but at least he looks like a quarterback.
Uzomah clocks in at 6'5", 230 lbs., making him the biggest QB prospect in the class.
Every school in the south is hot on Uzomah's trail—Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State have all offered (although Florida hasn't).
He's a true dual-threat QB, decorating his junior season with 153-of-257-completions for 1,723 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran 109 times for 1,033 yards.
The arm strength and confidence really aren't there, but scouts think he could grow more comfortable and functional with repetition.
I think the ideal spot for Uzomah is Georgia Tech, where Uzomah can use his athleticism and durability to gain yards and replicate a system that minimizes passing.
Yellow Jackets fans will be interested to know he's looking hard at GT. He dropped in for an unofficial visit recently, according to Scout.
Uzomah is one of the top prospects in the state of Georgia, and I'm sure Paul Johnson is throwing everything he has at landing the huge, talented QB to replace the outgoing Josh Nesbitt. Atlanta will be the destination if he ends up going where he's best suited.
I'm coming up short on pure clips, but here's an interview.
Thompson is a legacy quarterback for the Sooners (his father Charles played for Oklahoma) who committed back in November.
Though he's listed as a dual-threat QB, he's a stronger passer than runner (they really need to update this dual-threat/pro-style terminology into something that addresses athletic quarterbacks who prefer to throw).
Kendal is listed at 6'2", 180 lbs and clocks a 4.7 40. Scouts like his footwork and field awareness in the pocket, and his athleticism really helps him throw on the run. His sophomore highlight reel below is really impressive.
The Sooners' depth chart at QB is a major question mark in the near future, but Thompson isn't likely to jump Blake Bell and Landry Jones. He faces a likely redshirt and, ideally, will play in mop-up his redshirt sophomore season before taking over as an RS junior.
Jamal Turner is Scout's No. 7 QB, but as is typical with early commitments, he's flying under the radar as a prospect because he gave his pledge already to Nebraska.
Oklahoma had offered, and Alabama was showing interest before his commitment (both good signs, though a little short of the gold seal—a Texas offer).
I came up short on good film—ESPN doesn't have an evaluation yet, and the Scout stuff is behind a paywall—but the in the clips that I did watch, he looked a little short (Scout claims he's 6'1") and thin (170 lbs) to be running the dual part of the dual-threat position.
Nebraska's depth chart should give him time to add pounds, however. I hope I'm not seeing something that isn't there, but doesn't his footwork look really good in this clip? Once you actually get to the parts that aren't about the other team, that is.
Could end up being like a Tyrod Taylor, a passer first with the ability to break off a big run against man coverage.
Crower is an ESPN watch list prospect and an early Scout four-star who committed at the beginning of the '09 season.
The 6'3", 180 lb prospect shows great decisiveness on out routes, but on the long ball, he has a really long windup. Evidence of that can be seen in the below six minute trance-themed clip of Crower throwing an all-four verticals offense.
More evaluation is surely in the cards—how well he throws on the run, how well he throws over the middle, etc. But for now, he looks like the kind of quarterback who could run the Airraid at Stanford.
A very snappy prospect and one of the few sound passers in a class headlined by dual-threat athletes.
Frazier is an Arkansas native who is accruing offers from many top programs.
Nebraska, Notre Dame, Michigan and Northwestern have offered, but unless ND pulls a fast one in a tough state, Frazier looks like a lock to play in the South. He'll probably choose between the SEC schools, unless he can be swayed to the Big 12. Auburn is an early favorite.
Despite the dual-threat ability—his numbers at the beginning of this highlight video are jaw-dropping—he doesn't remind me of Pryor or Vince Young. His larger frame, more unwieldy running style and cannon arm remind me more of Steve McNair when he was at Alcorn State. He'll be successful as a quarterback who can take off on a well-timed draw when his arm has spread the box thin rather than a zone-read type player.
In the right system, his production could rival that of the legendary McNair's. Auburn would be a great place for him. He'd have a year to redshirt behind a senior Cameron Newton before taking over Malzahn's system as a redshirt freshman.
He'll have a great career, barring injury, wherever he goes.
Scout is very late to the party on Cardale Jones, who grew a ton in "ways that yardsticks don't measure" his junior year.
He's the recruit with the most rawness and upside on this list. At 6'5", 217 lbs, he's also one of the biggest QB prospects in the class, physically and mentally.
In addition to a powerful arm, his size and field intelligence contributes to a pocket confidence I don't see in many of the other prospects. Watch the clip of him in the state championship below and you'll see what I mean.
As for where he'll end up, he's an insurance policy for the Wolverines and Buckeyes in the event they don't land Braxton Miller (more later). But for other programs like Illinois and West Virginia, he's choice No. 1. He's been receiving offers at a furious clip due to great word of mouth.
I know he'll have an exciting career wherever he ends up.
Max Wittek of Mater Dei (Matt Barkley's former school) is that rare commodity today, the pro-style quarterback.
Yet even though he comes from Barkley's school, and is getting the superior coaching of the future No. 1 draft pick, his athleticism is just as much a part of his game as his throwing mechanics.
So says his tutor, private QB coach Steve Clarkson, who compared Wittek to former proteges Colt Brennan and Barkley in talent and upside.
His quick, tight release and pocket strength look Favrean, and his stock has blown up tremendously, though the national recruiting services haven't caught up entirely.
He'll surely be in the running for top pro-style QB in the country.
He holds a Florida offer, is hearing from Cal and the other Pac-10 schools. He claims to have no leaders and is open to every location and program in the country. Keep an eye on him.
It'll be Lemay and my No. 1 selection battling for top quarterback prospect all year.
For the purposes of making your own decision, here's the essential difference: the No. 1 is a dual-threat athlete with good-to-great passing skills; Lemay is an outstanding quarterback with good mobility.
Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Florida State and UNC are in top pursuit for Lemay, who hails from North Carolina.
Extensive footage is making the rounds of Lemay showing off his outstanding footwork and snap at combines. Yet in the clip below, a couple of his passes die in air, and I wonder if he won't need to improve the way he pushes the ball rather than following through to really get the most out of his passes.
I think he'll end up like a tall Phillip Sims—strong arm, great athleticism and with those few extra inches that Sims is missing that make Lemay elite.
Whether he follows Sims to Alabama or decides on Florida—where he's camped and some believe he'll enroll early—we'll leave up to time.
Long, loping strides are a thing of the past—if he's taking off, Braxton Miller is turning on the jets and getting gone.
His speed and cuts in the open field are appalling and devastating, and its a sin that Miller can also throw the ball as good or better than most QBs on this list.
He plays in a wide-open spread scheme with four wide receivers and a strong use of the zone-read, making him a top priority for pure spread schemes (like Michigan, Illinois and West Virginia) as well as those that are open to changing their offense or incorporating similar concepts (like Ohio State, Notre Dame and Tennessee).
Watching his film gives you a great sense of his will and pocket presence as a QB. His maturity as an athlete was noted way back when he was a freshman, and his stellar play has only added to that sense of surety on the field.
Very few quarterbacks look as physically and mentally ready to take over a game. He'll be a top priority for the Buckeyes, who could face depth chart alert if Pryor leaves after his junior season.
For now, just enjoy the show.