Those respective exits have fans at prominent schools bracing for new faces to make a name for themselves while following in their predecessors’ footsteps. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Notre Dame are among the College Football Playoff contenders featuring new signal-callers this season.
Before they hit the field, here is a review of where those new names came from and why they have found themselves in the starting role this season.
Check out highlights of Alabama QB Bryce Young as the sophomore takes the helm of the defending champion Crimson Tide.
Alabama fans got a glimpse of Young at the spring game, when he threw for 333 yards and one touchdown on 25-of-44 passing. The fans have been waiting to see more than a glimpse ever since the coaches flipped him from USC during his recruitment in the 2020 cycle.
Young was the No. 5 prospect overall and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in his class from California. He completed almost 72 percent of his passes his senior season of high school and threw for 4,528 yards with 58 touchdowns and six interceptions. He finished his high school career with 13,250 pass yards, 152 touchdowns and 21 interceptions over four seasons.
He did that at Mater Dei high school, one of the more prestigious high schools in California, and had a few battles in the playoffs with current Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. This season, Young will bring a versatility to the Alabama offense as a passer who can make plays with his feet.
He has the arm and the accuracy to move the chains through the air, has been in big-game situations and, if the spring game is any indication of what he’ll do this season, Alabama fans have every right to be excited.
Young reflected on what he’s look forward to ahead of his first start.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (@_bryce_young) will take the field for his first start on Saturday – I asked him how he was feeling ahead of the season opener against Miami this weekend. #RollTide pic.twitter.com/4LUqRZfrDf
— Hailey Sutton (@_HaileySutton) August 30, 2021
As D.J. Uiagalelei gets set to replace Trevor Lawrence, relive the Clemson QB’s top moments from last season.
Uiagalelei, who started two games for the Tigers in 2020, enters this season with more experience than Young. The sophomore threw for 781 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in those two appearances. He became only the seventh true freshman quarterback to start a game for Clemson, who averaged 37 points per game with Uiagalelei under center in a win over Boston College and loss to Notre Dame.
As mentioned above, he and Young had their own battles in high school with each quarterback beating the other on their way to win a state championship. Uiagalelei was the No. 43-ranked prospect in the 2020 class and was the third-highest ranked quarterback in the class behind Young and Hudson Card, who signed with Texas.
He’s a 6-foot-4, 250-pound quarterback with a huge arm that he put on full display in the 2020 season. The experience he gained last year will be invaluable as he enters this season as the starter.
Uiagalelei loses the team’s top three receivers from last season, but tight end Braden Galloway highlights several returning skill position players that includes star receiver Justyn Ross, who was cleared medically to play after he missed all of last season after discovering a congenital fusion in his spine.
Uiagalelei will have enough options to pass to and should be able to take off from where he left in 2020 and help lead Clemson’s offense.
Stroud’s recruiting story doesn’t mirror elite quarterback prospects such as Young and Uiagalelei, who were recruited early on in their high school careers.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback out of Rancho Cucamonga, California had a few scholarship offers, but major programs didn’t pay Stroud a lot of attention until he participated in the Elite 11 and won MVP.
He beat out some of the top quarterbacks in the country, including Young, for the honors and gained more attention after the event.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) August 26, 2021
Ohio State was one of the teams that came calling Stroud, who finished the recruiting cycle ranked No. 104, along with a handful of others, including Georgia. Stroud chose the Buckeyes and sat last year behind Justin Fields.
Now, as a redshirt freshman, Stroud is the starter and taking over with little experience.
He beat out fellow redshirt Jack Miller and true freshman Kyle McCord for the job and was named the starter on Aug. 21. Stroud threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns in Ohio State’s spring game and showed off his accuracy. He’ll have star receiver Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and tight end Jeremy Ruckert returning with a handful of other inexperienced receivers as depth.
Compared to Fields last season, Stroud should make for a seamless transition for the offense due to his similarities to the 11th overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
The offense won’t need to adapt to Stroud’s skillset and given the production that’s coming back at receiver, he will have enough help around him that he doesn’t need to play perfect or be the hero.
This is the year of the 2020 quarterback class, as King was the fourth-best quarterback in the class and a top-50 prospect. There were some outstanding quarterback prospects in that class and quite a few are now rising to the top of their respective depth charts.
King was a 6-foot-2, 185-pound recruit from Longview, Texas and considered a big win on the recruiting trail for Jimbo Fisher’s staff, who sought to secure the future of the quarterback position at Texas A&M. He threw for 7,537 yards, 82 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in three years of high school. King also had 1,392 yards rushing with 20 touchdowns on the ground.
The freshman signal-caller fits perfectly with what Fisher wants at quarterback because is an accurate passer who can run. Fisher said this offseason that King has brought accuracy, decision-making and consistency to practices. King is only a redshirt freshman, so he doesn’t have a lot of experience, but his upside could push the Aggies closer to their goal of making the College Football Playoff.
Coan is the outlier on this list in that he didn’t have a ton of big offers and wasn’t a highly-rated recruit.
The senior quarterback was a three-star in the 2017 class out of West Sayville, New York. He mainly held Big Ten offers from Wisconsin, Indiana, Nebraska, Michigan and a few others but nothing major outside the conference.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 25, 2021
Coan signed with Wisconsin, where he started in 2019 and threw for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. He led the Badgers to a 10-4 record, which included a trip to the Big Ten Championship game with a loss to Ohio State and a Rose Bowl berth against Oregon.
Coan suffered an injury to his foot last season and lost his starting job to Graham Mertz. He entered the transfer portal and comes to Notre Dame at a perfect time. The Irish were looking for a bridge between last season’s starter Ian Book, who is now in the NFL, and the young quarterbacks they have on the roster in freshmen Drew Pyne and Tyler Buchner. Coan is similar to Book in the sense that he’s going to be able to manage the game, isn’t flashy and won’t make a ton of mistakes.
He’ll give Notre Dame a shot at success this season and will also provide a much-needed year of experience for the inexperienced quarterbacks on the roster.