Quarterbacks in the 2023 CFB Recruiting Class with a Shot to Start as FreshmenFebruary 3, 2023
Quarterbacks in the 2023 CFB Recruiting Class with a Shot to Start as Freshmen
National signing day wrapped up Wednesday, and a number of teams across the country locked down talented quarterbacks. While there's no way to predict if any of them will see the field immediately, a few are good enough to play right away.
While that used to be a rarity, we're seeing high school signal-callers arrive ready for the next level like never before. Just last season, true freshmen such as Texas A&M Conner Weigman and Clemson's Cade Klubnik saw significant playing time. Trevor Lawrence, Bo Nix, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson all started as true freshmen too.
Let's run through some QBs in the 2023 recruiting class who might have a shot at doing the same. While we're not guaranteeing they will see the field in 2023, they are talented enough to, and a lot of them are stepping into a favorable depth-chart situation to potentially earn starts at some point during the season.
Missouri QB Gabarri Johnson
Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz has some talented options to consider at quarterback next season. One of those is 4-star recruit Gabarri Johnson, who is the No. 23 signal-caller in the 2023 class. Landing him was big for Drinkwitz, who managed to hold on to Johnson's May commitment, even though his home-state school, Washington, offered him.
Over Johnson's last two seasons at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington, he threw for 4,272 yards and 52 touchdowns with just six interceptions, per Max Preps. During his senior season, he rushed for a whopping 1,458 yards and 19 touchdowns.
"Gabarri was a born leader, and that's something at that position you've got to always be excited about," Drinkwitz told reporters in December. "He's a playmaker with his feet and his arm ... he's got the ability to throw and he's an accurate passer, but he's also got that 'B-button' quickness and shake-and-bake ability."
Johnson will compete for the starting job alongside last year's starter, Brady Cook. During the Tigers' 6-7 season, Cook threw for 2,739 yards and 14 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Following the campaign, the junior underwent shoulder surgery, so he'll spend the offseason rehabbing.
Sophomore Sam Horn is on Missouri's roster, too, as are walk-ons Dylan Laible, Tommy Lock and Brett Brown. Perhaps Cook's injury will open the door slightly for Johnson, but Cook has an edge from an experience standpoint.
Louisville QB Pierce Clarkson
The Louisville Cardinals will have to replace one of the most dynamic playmakers in program history, as quarterback Malik Cunningham is headed to the NFL. Although 4-star recruit Pierce Clarkson will enter a crowded QB room, he can make an immediate impact in head coach Jeff Brohm's first year.
Clarkson, who hails from Bellflower, California, is the No. 21 quarterback in the class. During his last two seasons at St. John Bosco, he threw for 3,583 yards and 45 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He added 708 yards and nine scores on the ground.
Clarkson committed to Louisville in January 2022 and stayed that way despite head coach Scott Satterfield accepting the Cincinnati job in December.
Brohm, who played quarterback at Louisville from 1989 to 1993, will have a lot of options to replace Cunningham. Brock Domann appears to be the front-runner—he threw for 998 yards and four touchdowns with six interceptions last season while stepping in for Cunningham, who dealt with injuries.
Also on the roster are senior Evan Conley and junior Nathan McElroy. It sounds like Brohm is looking forward to all of his quarterbacks competing ahead of the 2023 season. He told reporters Wednesday:
"I've been excited about what I've seen to this point. I think that getting them on the field, getting them game reps in spring practice as much as we can, in team settings where they have to make plays with a little heat on them will be very important. So, we're excited about that position and developing it."
Stanford QB Myles Jackson
While it will take some getting used to seeing Stanford without 12-year head coach David Shaw, former standout Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor will begin a new era for the Cardinal in 2023.
He will have 3-star Myles Jackson to potentially get things started at QB. The recruit signed with Stanford despite having offers from Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Oregon State, among other big-time schools. He even committed and reclassified to join the 2023 cycle—forgoing his senior season to graduate early—before Taylor was hired.
Jackson told 247Sports in early December after his commitment:
"I feel like I've thrown a lot of balls over the last two seasons. I know senior year is big, but I think the opportunity to get to Stanford early and train and compete at that level will really develop me the best in the long run.
"I actually think the quarterback position is pretty wide open right now so I'm excited about the chance to go in and compete. If I don't win the job and have to red-shirt, that's fine. I still feel like I'll learn a lot and really grow as a quarterback."
Jackson, the No. 27 signal-caller in the class, threw for 3,620 yards and 47 touchdowns with just seven interceptions during his 2022 season at Millikan High School in Long Beach, California.
Despite his being one of the younger signal-callers in Stanford's QB room, it's a bit of an inexperienced group he is stepping into.
Tasked with replacing two-year starter Tanner McKee, who is headed to the NFL, Stanford has just a couple of guys with experience. There's junior Ari Patu, who has completed 14 passes over two seasons, and Wildcat quarterback Ashton Daniels, who accounted for 195 total yards last season.
Given that, Jackson's talent could win out and get him on the field early in 2023.
UCLA QB Dante Moore
There was a good amount of drama in the weeks leading up to 5-star quarterback Dante Moore's signing with UCLA. Since July 2022, he was verbally committed to Oregon. But with Ducks offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham getting hired by Arizona State in November, it opened the door for UCLA to land the signal-caller from Detroit.
Moore became the Bruins' highest-rated QB recruit in school history. Per Moore, head coach Chip Kelly's experience both in college and the NFL is what made the difference.
"He really knows what he's doing," Moore told the Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch of Kelly. "He's coached in the NFL. He's seen many great things, really tough games. He has a really strong resume, and I really felt that going into a system with a great head coach, that would be the best development for me."
Moore arrives at just the right time. For the first time in five seasons, the Bruins will be without star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who is headed to the NFL. Moore enters a quarterback room that features Kent State transfer Collin Schlee, redshirt junior Ethan Garbers and redshirt freshman Justyn Martin.
Last season, the Bruins went 9-4, which was the best finish for UCLA since Kelly arrived in 2018. We'll see if Moore can help the Bruins compete for a Pac-12 title in the coming years.
Oregon State QB Aidan Chiles
Oregon State is coming off its third 10-win season in school history, and thanks to the addition of 4-star quarterback Aidan Chiles, the future looks bright in Corvallis.
Chiles is Oregon State's second-highest-rated signal-caller recruit. The highest was 2001 QB Derek Anderson, who after four seasons at Oregon State went on to spend 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly as a backup.
The No. 12 quarterback in his class, Chiles finished his 2022 high school season in Downey, California, having thrown for 3,350 yards and 38 touchdowns with five interceptions, per MaxPreps. He rushed for another 940 yards with nine touchdowns. Here's 247Sports' Greg Biggins on what makes the new Beavers QB such a talented prospect:
"Chiles put up big numbers as a senior and can stress a defense with his arm and his legs. He has an easy delivery and the ball jumps out of his hand. He's elusive in the pocket, runs well and is very capable of picking up chunks of yards on zone reads or escaping pressure and taking off. He has worked hard on his mechanics and his release is tighter and he's able to get the ball off from different arm angles."
Chiles will compete against big-time transfer DJ Uiagalelei for the starting job in 2023. Uiagalelei transferred from Clemson just weeks after being benched for Cade Klubnik in the ACC title game against North Carolina.
The former Clemson quarterback obviously has a lot more college experience than Chiles, but he struggled with consistency during his time with the Tigers. Both of them will join fellow quarterbacks such as redshirt sophomore Ben Gulbranson, and sophomores Travis Throckmorton and Dom Montiel.
Uiagalelei is favored to win the job, but if he struggles like he did at Clemson, there's a chance we could see Chiles early in his Oregon State career.
Tennessee QB Nico Iamaleava
This cycle's No. 2 quarterback, 5-star Nico Iamaleava, is headed to Tennessee. The signal-caller from Downey, California, is the state's top-ranked prospect, and he is expected to compete for the starting job immediately, in part because star quarterback Hendon Hooker is headed to the NFL.
MaxPreps only lists two seasons of Iamaleava's time in high school, but over those two years he threw for 3,248 yards with 50 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel told GoVols247 of Iamaleava:
"I've gotten a chance to see him in person and on tape too. He's athletic. He understands his body. He can self-correct and get himself into position. He understands when something happens, why it's happening. That's only going to continue to heighten. Obviously, the raw skills are there; the arm talent and he's extremely athletic and explosive inside the pocket. He can make plays with his feet."
The one thing standing in Iamaleava's way of starting immediately for the Vols?
Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III. He spent most of the last two seasons behind Hooker but had a great showing in Tennessee's Orange Bowl win over Clemson. He threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions during the Vols' 31-14 victory.
With quarterback Tayven Jackson transferring to Indiana last month, it looks like Milton and Iamaleava will battle head-to-head for the No. 1 spot. Both guys are incredibly talented, so it should be fun to watch.
Texas QB Arch Manning
The Longhorns finished with the nation's No. 3 class Wednesday, and the signing of 5-star QB Arch Manning was a big part of that. The son of Cooper Manning, and nephew to Peyton and Eli, committed to the Longhorns last June.
The hype surrounding the next generation of the Mannings has less to do with his famous last name and more to do with his talent. He threw for 8,539 yards, 115 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions over his four years in high school in New Orleans, per MaxPreps.
Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters in December:
"Signing Arch Manning I think was big on a lot of fronts. One, let's just talk about the player. I think he's extremely gifted, he's got all the attributes needed to be a really good quarterback. He's 6'4, 225, he's got a great arm, he's a good athlete, he's got really good fundamentals, there's not a throw he can't make. He can make the off-platform throws."
Manning was listed in June 2022 as one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in 247Sports history, tied with fellow Texas quarterbacks Vince Young and current Longhorns starter Quinn Ewers. The QB's perfect 1.00 rating in that piece has since dropped 0.9995 on 247Sports, but he's still a gifted prospect.
Speaking of Ewers, he will be Manning's direct competition heading into fall camp.
Ewers, who transferred to Texas last offseason after starting his career at Ohio State, won the starting job ahead of Week 1. Although he missed a few games due to a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 2 against Alabama, he finished with 2,177 yards passing, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Ewers has more experience than Manning, but both are expected to compete for the starting job. So will sophomore Maalik Murphy and redshirt sophomore Charles Wright. Manning sounds like he has the tools to be a generational talent at Texas. We'll see if he can see the field early in Austin.
Recruit ratings via 247Sports' composite list.