College football: Clemson's Trevor Lawrence leads rankings of nation's top quarterbacks
College football is back this week with several star quarterbacks across the country — even without the Big Ten and Pac-12. Here is a look at the nation’s top quarterbacks entering the season:
1. Trevor Lawrence, Jr., Clemson
The face of college football, Lawrence has shined as a leader on and off the field for the Tigers. He’s lost just one game and thrown for neatly 7,000 yards in two seasons. He enters the season as the heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. He also became a voice of conscience — leading a fundraising initiative for coronavirus victims and their families, leading a march to highlight racial inequality and leading the players’ charge to play.
2. Sam Howell, So., North Carolina
Howell lived up to his recruiting hype as a true freshman, setting the FBS’ true freshman record and school record with 38 touchdown passes. He also threw for 3,641 yards, especially showing a knack for deep passes. His rapid development under former Texas coach Mack Brown has the Tar Heels as a team to watch this fall.
3. Sam Ehlinger, Sr., Texas
Ehlinger is coming off a season nearly equal to Colt McCoy’s 2008 campaign. Ehlinger totaled 4,326 all-purpose yards, second only to McCoy. And against eventual national champion LSU, Ehlinger was at his best with 401 passing yards, three TDs and a rushing TD. He’s the heart and soul of the Longhorns and he’s more than capable of leading them to playoff contention.
4. Brock Purdy, Jr., Iowa State
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Iowa State’s improvements start with Purdy’s rise. Last season, he ranked fourth nationally with 306.3 passing yards per game and was fifth nationally with 325.5 total offensive yards per game. Purdy was also one of just two quarterbacks to throw for more than 3,900 yards, at least 35 TDs and less than 10 interceptions, joining Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Purdy was also one of four FBS quarterbacks with at least 27 passing TDs and eight rushing TDs.
5. D’Eriq King, R-Sr., Miami
One of the most talented players in college football, King is coming off a bit of a strange season. He played four games at Houston and then sat out the season to redshirt, eventually transferring to Miami. When he is on, he could easily climb this list. In 34 games at Houston, threw to 4,925 yards and 50 TDs, rushed for 1,925 yards and 31 TDs and he even caught 59 passes for 1,421 yards and three TDs.
6. Spencer Rattler, R-Fr., OU
Rattler was named the starter Tuesday and is surrounded by plenty of hype. He’s a five-star recruit in Lincoln Riley’s system that has produced two Heisman Trophy winners. Rattler is also behind a talented offensive line. If things work out right, he could find himself even higher on this list.
7. Kyle Trask, R-Jr., Florida
Trask took over the job in the fourth quarter during a win over Kentucky last season, and never let go of it. He appeared in 12 games, but started 10. He completed 66.9% of his passes for 2,941 yards, 25 TDs and seven interceptions. His 156.09 passer rating was the ninth-highest in program history and the highest since Tim Tebow (164.2) in 2009.
8. Shane Buechele, R-Sr., SMU
Buechele finally lived up to the hype after struggling at Texas. Last season, the transfer led SMU to its first 10-win season since 1984. He passed for 3,929 yards and 34 TDs. He also totaled 4,034 yards of offense, which is second all-time at SMU. He also threw for 303 yards, a TD and an interception in the Boca Raton Bowl loss to FAU.
9. Ian Book, Gr., Notre Dame
The Irish’s leader had a prolific 2019, starting all 13 games and passing for 3,034 yards, 34 TDs and just six interceptions. He also became the first quarterback in school history with at least 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 TD passes in a season, milestones only OU’s Jalen Hurts reached elsewhere last season. Book enters the season fourth in program history with 57 career TD passes, trailing Brady Quinn (95), Tommy Rees (61) and Jimmy Clausen (60).
10. Dillon Gabriel, So., UCF
The southpaw had a breakout freshman season under former OU star Josh Heupel and could be in line for an even bigger season. Gabriel set the school’s single-season record for passing yards (3,653) while throwing for 29 TDs and just seven interceptions, starting the final 12 games. With Gabriel, UCF’s offense ranked second nationally in total offense, racking up 540.5 yards per game.
*-Quarterbacks for teams not playing or who opted out were not considered
Jacob Unruh, Staff writer