Sleeper College Football QBs with Joe Burrow Potential
LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow dominated the 2019 college football season, and a handful of quarterbacks could do the same in 2020.
After entering the season as a relative unknown, the soon-to-be No. 1 overall pick took the country by storm with an undefeated season and a national championship. He shattered passing records and won countless accolades while playing against top-tier competition, throwing for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns.
It's unrealistic to think any quarterback in college football will put up similar numbers in 2020, but a number of them could have a Burrow-esque rise to stardom and carry their team to greatness.
The following quarterbacks have already showcased their natural talent, but they will have a better chance to thrive in 2020 either because of more on-field experience or more talent around them. Plenty of signal-callers check those boxes, but only a few could put it all together to become household names.
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana Hoosiers
When trying to find the next Joe Burrow, it's worth highlighting at least one deep sleeper. Indiana's Michael Penix Jr. is a great one to consider among those severely under the radar.
Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen has been high on Penix, but injuries have been an issue for him in his career. A season-ending torn ACL in 2018 forced him to take a medical redshirt during his first year on campus. In 2019, Penix got to show the Hoosier faithful what he was capable of, completing 68.8 percent of his passes with a strong 8.7 yards per pass attempt, 12 total touchdowns and four interceptions.
Indiana went 5-1 in the six games that Penix played in, but injuries continued to hamper the redshirt freshman. After playing through shoulder injuries for much of the year, Penix underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in early November.
Health will be a big factor in Penix's success, but the coaching staff has put a lot of faith in the Florida native. Fellow quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who had been a consistent contributor for Indiana over the past few seasons, transferred to Northwestern knowing that his time as the go-to guy was likely coming to an end.
Penix may not be a household name yet, but if he can shake off the injury bug and keep playing at a high level, he'll have a chance to become one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten, if not the country.
Kedon Slovis, QB, USC Trojans
USC's football program has endured plenty of turbulence in recent years. From inconsistency since the departure of athletic director Pat Haden to the consistent drama surrounding head coach Clay Helton's job security, the PR department has had its hands full.
Fortunately, young, emerging quarterback Kedon Slovis is a much more positive storyline in Los Angeles.
Slovis was thrust into the starting role as a true freshman after then-starter JT Daniels suffered a season-ending injury. He showed remarkable poise while throwing for 3,502 yards, 30 touchdowns and only nine interceptions in 12 games.
Slovis started to hit his stride toward the end of the season. Over his final four games, including a Holiday Bowl loss to Iowa in which he exited the game early, he completed more than 77 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and just one interception.
As long as Slovis can build upon that strong finish to 2019, he has the opportunity to make the Trojans a legitimate Pac-12 contender next season.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State Cyclones
The Iowa State Cyclones have become much more respectable under head coach Matt Campbell, and quarterback Brock Purdy has led the charge. However, the two of them still have some unfinished business.
In his first two seasons as the starting QB, Purdy has led the Cyclones to a combined 15-11 record that included two bowl games appearances. While the 2019 campaign ended in disappointment with a 33-9 loss to Notre Dame, Purdy finished the year throwing for 3,982 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Purdy was only 18 yards away from the first 4,000-yard passing season in Iowa State history, and he might pass that milestone in his junior season. Talented running back Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar are returning after strong seasons, which should help make things easier for Purdy.
Inexperience will no longer be an excuse for Purdy and the rest of the Iowa State program. To make real noise in the Big 12, the Cyclones will need Purdy to start torching the conference defenses that have a reputation for giving up a ton of points.
Jamie Newman, Georgia Bulldogs
While the Georgia Bulldogs haven't had the most explosive offense over the past few seasons, they could make big plays in 2020 with former Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman under center.
Newman is a graduate transfer coming from a respectable Demon Deacons program. The 6'4" signal-caller led Wake Forest to an 8-5 record last season, throwing for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while adding another six scores on the ground.
He should be even more productive in 2020 with a more talented offense surrounding him in Athens.
The Bulldogs continue to bring in top-tier recruiting classes, and while elite players like offensive lineman Andrew Thomas and running back D'Andre Swift are heading to the NFL, other key contributors and newcomers will give Georgia's offense plenty of help.
A graduate transfer with the size and arm talent of Newman going to a program like Georgia is an ideal candidate to have a breakout season that'll take the college football world by storm.
Kyle Trask, Florida Gators
The Florida Gators are ready to make some noise in the College Football Playoff race in 2020, and Kyle Trask has the perfect opportunity to become an SEC legend in the process.
After never being the starter in high school or college, Trask finally got his opportunity to shine last season after teammate Feleipe Franks went down with a season-ending injury. Trask didn't look back once given the opportunity, completing 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards, 25 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
Trask's efficiency and ability to take care of the ball helped the Gators not miss a beat after losing Franks, going 11-2 with an Orange Bowl victory over the Virginia Cavaliers. Although Franks has now transferred to Arkansas, the Gators are expected to have another big season with Trask under center.
Along with a promising starter at quarterback, the Gators will have a potentially elite tight end in Kyle Pitts. The sophomore had an excellent 2019 campaign, catching 54 passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns, and those numbers figure to go up in what could be his final year before going to the NFL.
With a talented safety blanket and plenty of weapons around him, Trask has a terrific opportunity to become one of the best quarterbacks in college football next season.