The 2019 College football season will see a pool of very talented Quarterbacks, some who will be looking to build on their successes last year, as well as a number of guys hoping to have that all important breakout season. There are at least four QB’s playing at typically top 25 ranked teams that have benefitted from the transfer portal and when delving deeper into their stories I became fascinated by the role players featured in the Netflix documentary QB1: Beyond the Lights have played in this particular crop of QB’s.
QB 1: Beyond the Lights gave us an insight into some of the highest ranked High School Quarterbacks in the country all playing in their senior year before heading to college. It’s interesting to see how three of the stars from series one and two are going to have a big impact on the 2019 college football season.
In fact; two stars of the show have been heavily involved in much of the talk around the transfer portal and the other has quite frankly had a direct impact on both of those two moves.
Season one of the show introduces Gatorade high school player of the year Tate Martell, demonstrating his flashy skills, electric pace and confident personality coming out of High School Football powerhouse Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas. The Ohio State commit seemed destined for greatness and glory; well his ego certainly lived up to the hype as Tate didn’t lose a single High school match.
Also featured in season one was Georgia native Jake Fromm, a natural born leader with an extremely competitive edge who’d committed to Kirby Smart’s Bulldog’s and has since fended off tough competition but made the QB1 position his own.
Tate Martell redshirted his first year with the Buckeyes preserving his 4 years of eligibility having had no game time in the 2017 season but hoped to battle it out with Dwayne Haskins in 2018.
Meanwhile Back in Athens, Jake Fromm – who took over from the injured Jacob Eason after game one – made the starting spot his own, eventually leading the 12-1 (regular season) Georgia Bulldogs to the National Championship game where they faced Alabama. Georgia lost in OT due to some late magic produced by another freshman Tua Tagovailoa (you’ll see how he’s affected this year’s transfer portal shortly).
The outstanding break out season by Fromm led to the previous starter Jacob Eason – also a five star high school recruit – submitting a transfer request out of Athens to go and join the Washington Huskies. Eason’s transfer to the Huskies meant he would have to redshirt the 2018 season as per NCAA rules, interestingly that same rule hasn’t been applied to the two high profile QB1 transfers this season…
As we moved on to the 2018 season, college football was introduced to star of season two of QB1: Beyond the Lights – Justin Fields. As the number one ranked high school player in the country, Fields – also a Georgia commit – followed Jake Fromm to Athens to compete for the top spot with the goal of pushing his competition to the side.
Despite a few snaps, Justin Fields had no luck in displacing Fromm from his starting spot at Georgia – Jake continued to show dominance and this ultimately led Fields to make the decision to leave for the 2019 season – ‘and then there was Fromm’.
Back in the Big Ten Tate still had no success in Columbus as the Buckeyes were led by the man who would become last year’s Heisman third place recipient, Dwayne Haskins. Haskins of course has gone on to be drafted as the number 15 overall pick by the Washington Redskins, the third QB in the draft, runner up only to Daniel Jones and last year’s Heisman winner Kyler Murray.
Two years on and as we approach the start of the 2019 FBS season the stories behind the stars of QB1 become even more intertwined. You’d think that with Haskins out of the picture Martell would step up and be the man for the Buckeyes but with Urban Meyer retiring and Justin Fields deciding to head to Columbus, Martell’s uncertain future meant that he was looking for a way out.
Tate entered the portal and it wasn’t too long before he’d committed to heading to Coral Gables in an attempt to bring back the U.
Jake Fromm’s dominance at Georgia had now forced two five star recruits out of Athens, with one heading to Washington and one to Ohio State, the knock on effect of the later meaning QB1 star Tate Martell was now being pushed out to Miami.
See, it all comes back to Fromm.
Elsewhere, the transfer portal has also been put to good use across the conferences. Tua Tagovailoa’s 3,996 passing yards and 43 touchdowns at Alabama meant that Jalen Hurts would be on the move for his graduate year. Over at Clemson, Trevor Lawrence pushed starter Kelly Bryant in to the Portal with an outstanding freshman season seeing him throw for 3,280 yards, 30 TD’s, only 4 interceptions and a win in the national championship game – all of this despite him not being named the starter until game five of the regular season.
Kelly Bryant is going home to Missouri and I doubt he’ll pose much of a threat when it comes to the Heisman however; I am really excited to see what happens with Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma.
Hurts was the ultimate team man last year. After being replaced by Tua in the 2018 National Championship Game he spent the season in a supporting role but boy did he deliver when he needed to most. With the Crimson Tide trailing to (that man again) Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game, Hurts was rotated in and lead Nick Saban’s men to victory.
Hurts is heading to arguably the best programme in the country for a college football Quarterback, after all Oklahoma have produced the previous two Heisman trophy winners and number one overall draft picks for the NFL in; Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray – with a strong offensive line and QB coaching expertise, could we really see Oklahoma and Hurts make it three in a row?
(If you would like to read more about the Sooners lineage of QB’s, including Jalen Hurts’ potential Heisman bid, have a read of this)
As you can see; the QB contest and potentially the battle for the Heisman is going to be an exciting one to watch this year. You don’t have to look too far around the conferences to find some other stand out QB’s – whilst I don’t think their programmes, twinned with excellence at other schools, will be good enough to get them near to the top spot, keep an eye out for likes of; Kellen Mond, Justin Herbert and Sam Ehlinger.
Kellen Mond was impressive at Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher’s men played some great football last season proving to be tough competition for Clemson – if you want to go by SEC media day, Kellen has already said ‘he is the best QB in the SEC’.
Pay attention to Justin Herbert at Oregon, Justin returns to the Ducks after speculation that he would enter the 2019 NFL draft and comes off of the back of a 3,159 passing yards season with 29 touchdowns, not to mention he also has the size and stature of a prototypical NFL quarterback on his side.
Sam Ehlinger will also be a legitimate Heisman contender and has already been named in the All-Big 12 selection as voted for by those in the media that cover the league, he also set a school record last year of 16 rushing touchdowns as a QB.
Despite this class selection of talented Quarterbacks, ultimately I think that the race to the Heisman Trophy will be decided between Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts and Jake Fromm – I give an outside chance to Justin Fields at Ohio State but we really won’t know how the Buckeye’s will look until we see them tested. It’s an unpopular opinion but if Manny Diaz really can ‘bring back the U’ who’s to say that Tate Martell won’t throw his hat in the ring? He clearly has the pedigree to be a top college QB and if he wins the starting spot at Miami and is given protection up front he will most certainly be an exciting watch this year.
Personally however, for me, it all comes back to Fromm.
Whilst Jake may not have put up as impressive numbers as favourites Tua and Lawrence last year, he is arguably the best leader in the country. If Georgia continue to win game after game and are able to defeat Alabama in the SEC championship Jake will definitely be in contention. He has fought off two five star recruits in Eason and Fields forcing both in to the transfer portal, he led the Bulldogs to the National Championship game as a freshman and only just lost out in the SEC championship game to arguably one of the best Alabama teams we have seen last year. The Georgia Bulldogs really are his team.
Even though it’s too early to call, my money is on one man lifting the prize in Manhattan next December, and that’s Jake Fromm.
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