2022 Class Quarterbacks Who Have What It Takes to Start from Day 1

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2021

2022 Class Quarterbacks Who Have What It Takes to Start from Day 1

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    Clemson signal-caller Cade Klubnik will add some much-needed depth and competition.
    Clemson signal-caller Cade Klubnik will add some much-needed depth and competition.Credit: 247Sports

    Two top quarterbacks from the 2022 recruiting class have skipped their senior seasons and enrolled with their collegiate programs, taking two college-ready signal-callers out of next year's equation.

    Still, the decisions by Quinn Ewers (Ohio State) and Gavin Wimsatt (Rutgers) don't take away the star power in this year's quarterback class. It's a loaded year for potential, and several teams will get kids ready to step in.

    It's fun to project which freshmen can start right away, but that rarely happens at quarterback. But there's no excitement in projecting kids to stand on the sideline. In this case, several quarterbacks have the ability to play in '22.

    Not all of the guys on this list will step into the best opportunity to unseat talent, but the good teams have depth lined up regardless. If you don't like competition, it's difficult to play at the highest level.

    These kids won't have trouble matching their talents with the best.

Drew Allar, Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Credit: 247Sports

    If you watched the rugged Penn State-Wisconsin opener Saturday, you couldn't help but be impressed with what the Nittany Lions have rebuilt on defense.

    Offensively, however, they couldn't get on track against the Badgers, and that has been a problem in recent years with Sean Clifford's inconsistency.

    Clifford could return to Happy Valley next year, but whether or not head coach James Franklin and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich still have faith in him depends on if he improves throughout this season and makes more plays.

    If he doesn't, the Lions are bringing in two capable quarterbacks to throw into the race in Drew Allar and Beau Pribula. Allar, especially, has exciting potential. At 6'4½", 228 pounds, he is big and possesses a strong arm, and he's not statuesque in the pocket either.

    Allar committed to Yurcich and seems to be the perfect fit for the system Franklin wants to run, so you have to like him as he comes in with a superb skill set, such as a strong arm and terrific athleticism for his size. The signal-caller from Medina, Ohio, will elevate the play of the position next year for a team that looks like it's on the rise.

    Don't be surprised if he steals the job.

Brady Allen, Purdue Boilermakers

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Uncertainty abounded before Purdue's season regarding who would start at quarterback. Jeff Brohm decided to ride with Jack Plummer.

    That looked like the right decision in Purdue's season-opening win over Oregon State as Plummer threw for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns without any interceptions. The junior should continue to surge in the position through next year if he continues to develop, but you always need reinforcements.

    Brohm knows that better than anyone as Purdue has been slammed with injuries under center in the past couple of years. If that happens again, he'll have a 4-star prospect in '22 who looks like he is ready to go.

    Brady Allen is a 6'5", 210-pounder from Fort Branch, Indiana, who is a prototypical pocket passer with a big arm and the ability to make all the throws on the field. He is physically similar to Plummer.

    Despite interest from all over the country, Allen seems locked into Brohm's system, and it would be an ideal scenario for the Boilermakers for him to come in, watch Plummer post big numbers, learn the system and battle for the job in a couple of years.

    But he's talented enough to step in right away if needed.

Steve Angeli, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Nobody should step onto campus at a tradition-rich program like Notre Dame and expect to be the opening-day quarterback.

    Coach Brian Kelly has stacked talented signal-callers in South Bend. Though super senior transfer Jack Coan won the job this year, guys like Drew Pyne and Tyler Buchner are waiting in the wings for 2022.

    You can add Steve Angeli, a 6'3", 215-pound dropback passer from New Jersey's prestigious Bergen Catholic High School (where former Tennessee starter and current Washington State quarterback Jarrett Guarantano played).

    He has the size, arm strength and grooming at a top-notch high school program to come in and compete for the job, even if that would be a surprise with the stable of signal-callers Kelly already has at South Bend.

    Any time you've got a departing senior like the Irish, the battle is wide-open. The spotlight is bright, so Kelly can't afford to make the wrong decision. If Angeli is the best, he will trot out with the starters in Game 1 next year.

    Angeli is off to a terrific start to the season, according to NJ.com's Andrew Koob. Bergen Catholic is the nation's No. 13-ranked team, so he'll play big-time competition and will be battle-tested once he makes it to campus.

    There will be tons of competition in South Bend, but you've got to like what Angeli will bring to the battle.

Braden Davis, South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Credit: 247Sports

    One of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in the 2022 recruiting class is Braden Davis, who will play for coach Shane Beamer at South Carolina.

    At 6'5", 195 pounds, Davis has a terrific frame and is long and wiry, but he needs to develop his body and add mass and strength. With the right weight program, he could add 20 pounds this year and arrive in Columbia at 215.

    If he does that, Davis has all the skills needed to battle Luke Doty for the job. He's got a big arm, great athleticism and the pocket poise necessary to excel. He has a huge offer sheet that included some of the top teams in college football, so his potential is obvious.

    Adding weight shouldn't be a big deal either. He's the son of former Tennessee Volunteers All-American and NFL offensive lineman Antone Davis, so you'd think he can fill out that frame.

    With Doty's injury, the Gamecocks were forced to start a graduate assistant coach (Zeb Noland) in the season-opening win over Eastern Illinois. Davis won't step into a crowded quarterback room.

    He may be too talented to keep off the field.

AJ Duffy, Florida State Seminoles

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Florida State is rebuilding the right way, and coach Mike Norvell is proving after a rocky start that he can develop relationships with top prospects.

    A prime example is the commitment of AJ Duffy, a 6'2", 203-pound signal-caller who transferred to Florida's IMG Academy from California. He'll stay in the Sunshine State to play his college ball too, and the Seminoles should still be searching for a long-term answer under center next year.

    The Seminoles' quarterback race came down to UCF transfer McKenzie Milton and Jordan Travis, but Norvell historically has employed a QB with the ability to make all the timing throws, blended with enough athleticism to move the pocket. Duffy is a perfect example of that type of signal-caller.

    Travis probably doesn't have the accuracy to be the long-term answer, and Milton is an upperclassman, so the 'Noles need a long-term solution. Enter Duffy, who will join players on the roster like Chubba Purdy.

    Getting a top-100 prospect (No. 82 in the 247Sports composite rankings) to run the offense is exactly the jolt the Seminoles needed. Though they had another player on this list committed, Duffy is the kind of prospect you have to continue to recruit.

    That other prospect (Nicco Marchiol) wound up decommitting from FSU. He may have realized Duffy is the ideal guy for Norvell's system and could do big things right away.

Katin Houser, Michigan State Spartans

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Another program that is trying to rebuild but looks to have a bright future is Michigan State, where second-year coach Mel Tucker got his year started the right way with a big victory over Northwestern in Week 1.

    Though the Spartans looked strong, they have a game manager under center in Payton Thorne, who will have to elevate his play to keep the job long-term. The redshirt sophomore has plenty of potential but has to improve.

    Thorne hasn't shown he can make Michigan State a contender, though he's just getting the opportunity to run "his" team after beating out graduate transfer Anthony Russo.

    Next season, Katin Houser will join the mix, and he is the type of player who can change a program for the better.

    Tucker went cross-country and nabbed the 6'3", 200-pound quarterback from prestigious St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California. He had offers from all over the nation and has enjoyed a big summer, making the Elite 11 Finals and accepting an invitation to play in the Polynesian Bowl.

    Convincing athletes like Houser to come to East Lansing is one of the reasons Tucker is a great hire, and Houser could be the face of the program. If nothing else, it'll give Thorne incentive to play better.

    He'll have to in order to keep the job.

Walker Howard, LSU Tigers

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    Credit: 247Sports

    It's been a rough road for the LSU Tigers following the 2019 national championship game.

    Unfortunately for coach Ed Orgeron, Joe Burrow isn't walking through that door.

    Even so, the Bayou Bengals aren't devoid of talent at quarterback. Myles Brennan was effective as Burrow's replacement, but he has battled injuries the past couple of years and will be out a while this year as well.

    Sophomore Max Johnson has ability but doesn't always make the best decisions (as this pass would indicate). He didn't have enough to lead the Tigers to a win against UCLA on Saturday, though he wasn't at fault. The son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson has a bright future.

    But he'll have to hold off the most talented quarterback LSU has brought in to keep the job next season. Walker Howard may be the best signal-caller in the entire 2022 class. He's the top-ranked signal-caller in the 247Sports composite and will be a formidable man in the LSU QB race.

    Howard is the son of former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard, and purple and gold runs in his veins. He has a cannon for an arm, and though he could stand to get bigger at 6'1" and 195 pounds, he can make every throw and is accurate whether in the pocket or moving around.

    Everybody has high expectations for Johnson, but Howard probably has the highest ceiling of anybody in the quarterback room in Baton Rouge next year.

Tayven Jackson, Tennessee Volunteers

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Tennessee hasn't experienced quality quarterback play since Joshua Dobbs was on campus. Before him, Erik Ainge was the last good signal-caller on Rocky Top.

    While coaching-hire gaffes and administrative ignorance are the main reasons for UT's fall from grace, poor quarterback play hasn't helped.

    Hope abounds with noted quarterback developer Josh Heupel now coaching in Knoxville and with newly anointed starter Joe Milton. However, the latter showcased the inconsistencies that caused him to lose the Michigan job in the Vols' season-opening win over Bowling Green.

    If Milton continues to struggle, what does that say about the other quarterbacks on campus, like Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker and Harrison Bailey?

    That's why Heupel-selected signal-caller Tayven Jackson could step into an ideal situation when he arrives from Greenwood, Indiana, next year.

    At 6'4", 195 pounds, Jackson needs to add weight, but he is a superb athlete with a big arm who has all the attributes Heupel wants in a quarterback such as speed and athleticism.

    Nobody possesses hope like long-suffering Tennessee fans, but nothing indicates the quarterback of the future is currently on campus. Jackson will have something to say about who carries that torch.

Cade Klubnik, Clemson Tigers

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    Credit: 247Sports

    If you're ready to give up on the massive future of DJ Uiagalelei because he had an awful season opener in a 10-3 loss to Georgia, you're way too quick on the trigger.

    He is an elite quarterback who has all the ability to win a Heisman Trophy before his days with Dabo Swinney and Tony Elliott are done. When you factor in how the Bulldogs disguised coverages and constantly pressured the Tigers starter, it's no wonder he had a tough night.

    With this year and another one remaining (at least), Uiagalelei is expected to be entrenched as the Clemson starter.

    But he wouldn't be the first elite prospect whose production tumbles if that winds up happening. That's why you need to recruit signal-callers every year, and the Tigers have one in the 2022 class who is among the best, if not the best, in the country.

    Cade Klubnik is a 6'2½", 186-pound quarterback from Austin, Texas, who has gone from the shadow of the Longhorns program to being a Clemson commitment. The 5-star is the nation's No. 26-ranked player and the No. 3 quarterback.

    Klubnik has a good combination of velocity and accuracy and plenty of teachable traits that should make him an outstanding prospect. His intelligence will help him learn a system quickly too. He's walking into a situation where he's likely to be a backup, but Klubnik has the skill set to start immediately if he's needed.

Nicco Marchiol, West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Recruiting is tough sometimes, but like college football, it's a business.

    Few commits were more dedicated than Nicco Marchiol was to the Florida State Seminoles, but in the business of college football, you've got to cover your bases. Coach Mike Norvell needs sure things in his quarterback race, so when he had the chance to add AJ Duffy, he did.

    According to 247Sports' Josh Newberg, once Marchiol started taking recruiting visits, the FSU staff and the prospect parted ways. He visited Arizona State, Michigan State and West Virginia and decided to be the centerpiece of the Mountaineers' class.

    The big left-hander from Chandler, Arizona, is the type of prospect you wouldn't expect to wind up in the mountains of West Virginia. But he hit it off with coach Neal Brown and the Mountaineers staff, and he could play immediately.

    Jarret Doege is a redshirt senior who'll be off to the NFL after this year, and the Mountaineers will be searching for an offensive leader.

    The 6'2", 216-pound signal-caller has all the ability to be the guy for the job. He throws with good accuracy and has enough athleticism to move the pocket and make plays.

    Doege needs to play better than he did in the opener against Maryland to keep moving West Virginia in the right direction, but Marchiol may be the guy to help the Mountaineers compete for conference titles.

Maalik Murphy, Texas Longhorns

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    Credit: 247Sports

    An up-and-coming program in college football this year is the Texas Longhorns. If it seems like you've read that before, it's because there are no more vocal, passionate fans than those of the Longhorns.

    New coach Steve Sarkisian is an offensive guru who has molded some of the best quarterbacks to come out of college football, and he needs a difference-maker around which to build his program.

    Though Hudson Card had a stellar opener against Louisiana-Lafayette after beating out Casey Thompson for the job, he has to show growth, development and consistency to be the long-term answer for the 'Horns. If he isn't, Sarkisian is bringing in a high-octane athlete who could be.

    Maalik Murphy is a 6'4½", 228-pound quarterback from Gardena, California, who was the easy choice for Texas after Quinn Ewers moved on to Ohio State. Though there aren't any guarantees with Murphy's development, few players have his potential.

    Sarkisian obviously thinks he can polish some of those rough edges, and if he can, Murphy will be a gem of a prospect who is talented enough to elevate the program. He has an elite arm and top-end athleticism for a guy his size, and he can move the pocket and make plays.

    If he continues to work on his mechanics, Murphy could be a name on the tip of everybody's tongue right away.


    All stats courtesy of CFBStats and Sports Reference. Recruiting rankings via 247Sports' composite rankings unless otherwise noted.

    Follow Brad Shepard on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard.