B/R CFB Recruiting: Ranking the Top 10 Quarterbacks in the 2023 Class
The word “generational” is used far too much in sports these days, and it has almost become a cliche. In the case of 2023’s crop of quarterback recruits, though, it may just fit.
In the 247Sports composite rankings, six 5-stars and 10 signal-callers sit among the nation’s top 101 players. How the position is ranked across recruiting services has become a bit of a hot-button topic this cycle.
Everybody has an order, but the consensus is Arch Manning is not only the best at his position but also the top player at any position in the class. While he certainly has massive amounts of ability, that’s a bit too generous based on film study, ability and camp showings.
Nobody (understandably) wants to bet against Manning’s last name, but there are other prospects with higher ceilings who deserve your attention—and that’s taking nothing away from Manning, who is a brilliant talent.
So, just how should the quarterbacks in this year’s class be ranked? Let’s take a look.
10. Austin Novosad, Baylor Bears
What Baylor head coach Dave Aranda accomplished last season in Waco, turning around the program and leading it to a Big 12 championship and Sugar Bowl victory, drew plenty of acclaim from those across the college football world.
It appears recruits are beginning to see the program in a different light, too.
Though Baylor hasn’t been a recruiting juggernaut the past few years, Aranda secured one of the most promising 2023 quarterback prospects in 6’3”, 185-pound Dripping Springs, Texas, prospect Austin Novosad.
Now, it’s just a matter of whether Aranda can hang on to him after teams such as Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Ohio State offered him scholarships over the summer. The signal-caller visited College Station and South Bend, but he’s still locked in with the Bears, who need a difference-maker at quarterback.
The Elite 11 finalist reaffirmed his commitment to the Bears after the whirlwind of activity this summer, according to Bears Illustrated’s Jordan Scruggs, and that is massive news for the program. A strong relationship with quarterbacks coach Shawn Bell was a big reason Novosad elected to stay home.
He gets the nod over guys such as Alabama commit Eli Holstein and Kansas State pledge Avery Johnson because of the consistency of his mechanics and delivery, his quality arm and the performance he had at the prestigious Elite 11 competition.
Baylor got itself a class centerpiece.
9. Dylan Lonergan, Alabama Crimson Tide
With Bryce Young a near certainty to head to the NFL after this season, Alabama coach Nick Saban is looking to restock his quarterback room. He’s got some major help coming in a 2023 class that is shaping up to be another banner haul for the best recruiter ever.
The 6’2”, 215-pound Snellville, Georgia, native has the pedigree at the position; his father, Dan, was a member of Penn State’s 1982 national championship team as a backup to Todd Blackledge. He also has the ability.
Lonergan is a top-shelf baseball prospect as well, and he has the frame to take plenty of punishment in the pocket and still deliver the ball to his receivers on target. He also possesses the type of athleticism necessary to thrive in the SEC and has some success tucking and running on the high school level, too.
The prospect plays strong competition at Brookwood High School in the suburbs of Atlanta, and he had plenty of interest from Power Five programs.
There’s a lot to like about Lonergan’s game, and though he will join a deep, talented pool of quarterbacks in Tuscaloosa, he can make some noise in the post-Young era for Saban and Co.
8. JJ Kohl, Iowa State Cyclones
The name of the football game in JJ Kohl’s household has been kicking. His father, Jamie, is the Director of Kohl’s Professional Camps, which specializes in the kicking game and sends players to college teams across the country each year.
They may be investing in some quarterback sessions down the road. The younger Kohl is a 6’7”, 230-pound senior at Ankeny High School in Iowa. He is committed to coach Matt Campbell’s Iowa State Cyclones, and he has recently enjoyed a major recruiting rankings boost.
There’s a good reason for that. Kohl is a legitimate high-tier, college-ready prospect who has the intelligence and arm strength to be a mass producer at a Power Five program, especially one such as Iowa State, which is facing life without Brock Purdy this season after he headed off to the NFL.
Not only is Ames close to home, but Kohl also has to see a major opportunity to step into a major program with a respected coach and compete for the starting job right away in the Big 12.
Before that happens, the Cyclones will have to fight to keep Kohl in the fold. Others are trying to change his mind, including Auburn, which recently offered and is trying to flip him.
“Under the current circumstances, if everything stays the same, I feel like I’ll end up at Iowa State,” Kohl told Auburn Sports’ Caleb Jones. “Overall, it has the best opportunity for me and I feel like it’s a really good fit for me.”
That sounds like good news for the Cyclones, but any time a team that traditionally doesn’t recruit at a high level has a player such as Kohl in the fold, others will come calling. If he winds up with Campbell’s program, he could be a candidate to make some early noise and eventually become a household name.
7. Jaden Rashada, Miami Hurricanes
Perhaps no other 2023 quarterback has been as much under the NIL microscope recently as the 6’4”, 185-pound Jaden Rashada, who reportedly agreed to a $9.5 million deal to play for Miami, according to On3’s Jeremy Crabtree.
The Pittsburg, California native took to social media to state, “all reports of my decision involving an NIL deal is inaccurate” and went on to say he chose Miami because of his relationships with the coaches, players and the program’s direction.
Of course, the NIL situation will make Rashada a much talked-about prospect, but his ability got him here.
His tall, lanky frame is a major asset, and he has a strong enough arm to stay in the pocket and deliver any pass. He is a prototypical pro-style passer who carries a high upside.
It’s that type of skill set that led to teams such as Texas A&M, LSU, Florida and others to offer him.
Other teams likely will still pursue Rashada, but he's set to head to the ACC and suit up for new head coach Mario Cristobal as of now.
6. Jackson Arnold, Oklahoma Sooners
Most years, a player such as Oklahoma commitment Jackson Arnold would be a top-three quarterback in the recruiting cycle. That just goes to show you what type of group we have in 2023.
Regardless, there's a lot to love about the 6’1”, 205-pound future Sooner's game, and that’s why so many upper-echelon programs around the country offered him. He chose to stay fairly close to home and join new coach Brent Venables’ program in Norman, and he should have a bright future there.
With starter Dillon Gabriel being an upperclassman, snaps will be available soon for Arnold, and he’s the kind of prospect who can seize them.
He hails from the football hotbed of Denton, Texas, where powerhouse programs such as Ryan and Arnold’s Guyer High School produce talented playmakers year after year. Arnold waited his turn in the prep ranks behind Texas A&M's Eli Stowers, and he’s done nothing but dazzle ever since with plays like this:
Arnold has a strong arm, the ability to scramble around in the pocket and precision accuracy to all levels of the field. He can beat teams with his arm or his feet, and that is a quality that OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby has to love the thought of molding.
Hw is a massive pickup for the Sooners, and Arnold could wind up one of the biggest names in the class.
5. Christopher Vizzina, Clemson Tigers
The Clemson Tigers have experienced success recruiting in the state of Alabama recently, especially in the receiving corps with Justyn Ross and E.J. Williams.
They hope they've hit the quarterback jackpot in the 2023 cycle, too.
Yes, coach Dabo Swinney has DJ Uigalelei and Cade Klubnik on campus, but you need a strong signal-caller in every class, and they certainly have one in the 2023 cycle in Birmingham product Christopher Vizzina.
The 6'4", 207-pound prospect from Briarwood Christian School is one of the most fluid passers in the class, and he has displayed good velocity and accuracy across all levels of the field.
One of the more underrated areas of Vizzina's game is his ability to get outside the pocket and extend plays. He's even a threat to run and possesses strong athletic ability for a player of his height and size. He also likely would have been one of the best quarterbacks in last year's class.
While others will get the headlines in this cycle, Vizzina is just as good as any of them and will be a multiple-year, high-level starter in the ACC. Even though Alabama got a couple of strong quarterbacks in the cycle, the Crimson Tide may regret not pushing for Vizzina.
4. Dante Moore, Oregon Ducks
Dan Lanning has won some major recruiting battles in his first year as the Oregon Ducks head coach, but none of them was bigger than the one that brought in elite prospect Dante Moore.
The Ducks went into Detroit and pulled the 6'3", 210-pound quarterback from under the noses of Jim Harbaugh and Mel Tucker.
Neither Michigan or Michigan State was a finalist for Moore. Ultimately, he'll head to Eugene instead of playing his college days at Notre Dame, LSU or Texas A&M. Some analysts think the Ducks may have gotten one of the two best quarterback prospects in the country.
While Moore is the fourth-rated quarterback in the 247Sports composite rankings, which compiles ratings from all publicly available major media services, he is the second-rated quarterback and overall prospect on 247Sports.
There's good reason for that.
Moore is fearless in the pocket, and he has one of the most live arms in this class, though his velocity is not at the top level. His arm action and mechanics are very repeatable, and he has the type of moxie you want in a starting quarterback.
Despite the Ducks having Bo Nix for two seasons and former elite prospect Ty Thompson waiting in the wings, Moore is good enough to play immediately. Among the top four quarterbacks on this list, any one of them has an argument to be the class' best.
3. Arch Manning, Texas Longhorns
If you're looking for a hit piece on Arch Manning, this isn't the place.
He's an outstanding prospect who is worthy of high praise, and pretty much every recruiting service believes he is the No. 1 overall player. The 6'4", 215-pound New Orleans product who preps at Isidore Newman High School very well may be.
Who would bet against the Manning name? Uncle Peyton is an NFL Hall of Famer, Eli is on his way and his grandfather, Archie, was a legendary signal-caller who starred for Ole Miss and the New Orleans Saints.
Arch's dad, Cooper, was a pretty good player himself.
On his own merits, Manning is big, strong-armed, athletic and has all the tools to be elite. He has a college-ready frame and can make every throw. He has the same high football IQ as his uncles and has been around the game his entire life.
But there's so much hype around him, it's fair to wonder if it will translate so quickly. Manning doesn't face strong talent in high school, and when he had the opportunity to showcase his abilities this summer in seven-on-seven tournaments or in camp settings, he rarely did.
Perhaps he didn't think there was a reason to, and the way recruiting services gush over him, he's probably right. Manning will be a great player, and even with Quinn Ewers in Austin, the Texas recruit will have the opportunity to be molded by a great developer of talent in coach Steve Sarkisian.
It's going to be fun to watch him develop and hear the debate.
2. Nicholaus Iamaleava, Tennessee Volunteers
As Tennessee has wandered through college football's wilderness for more than a decade, quarterbacks of Nico Iamaleava's caliber normally haven't given Rocky Top a second glance.
But the Vols received perhaps their biggest commitment in years from Iamaleava despite overtures from programs around the nation. The 6'5", 195-pound signal-caller is a dynamic athlete who is also elite on the volleyball court.
While he could stand to gain some weight to endure the rigors of the SEC schedule, that's being nitpicky. He has the frame to add 20-30 pounds easily, and he throws the prettiest pass in the class.
Iamaleava's athleticism sets him apart from the others in the cycle, and it's why the Downey, California, prospect was so highly valued by many of the top programs around the country. He is the nation's No. 4 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings and the third overall player on 247, and he'll reportedly enjoy NIL perks, too.
He has a valuation of more than $1 million already, according to On3's Jeremy Crabtree.
Given UT coach Josh Heupel's propensity to develop quarterbacks and post arcade-level offensive numbers, the thoughts of what a player with Iamaleava's ability can do in his offense are tantalizing.
Perhaps most importantly, he is the type of leader players gravitate toward, and he has the type of charisma that has already made him a fan favorite to a group of fans hungry for a winner. His college potential is limitless.
1. Malachi Nelson, USC Trojans
A lot of times when quarterbacks make early commitments, people tend to put them on the backburner.
That isn't the case with longtime USC Trojans pledge Malachi Nelson, who flipped from Oklahoma to the perennial Pac-12 powerhouse when Lincoln Riley left to be the head coach.
Now, Riley is trying to hang on to the prized Los Alamitos, California, prospect despite strong overtures from Texas A&M that earned a recent unofficial visit from Nelson.
Who wouldn't want him? The 6'3", 182-pound silky-smooth prospect is an elite athlete who boasts an absolute howitzer for an arm. That throwing power sets him apart, and while there may be more polished signal-callers in this class, nobody has the type of top-end ceiling Nelson does.
He's an immediate-impact type of talent who will get at least a year to learn under Caleb Williams if he stays at home in Cali and heads to USC. If he goes to A&M, who knows? Even though Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher has a bunch of good prospects, none has Nelson's ability.
Nelson is the No. 2 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings (behind Manning) and fifth overall on 247. But he's far from a finished product, and once he adds weight, gets in a college system and learns how to harness that arm strength and cut down on turnovers, he is going to be special.
Follow Brad Shepard on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard.