Lessons learned in tracking 5-star quarterbacks from 2013-16
Football has become an increasingly quarterback-driven game. With a talented signal caller, a team can rise to the top of its conference and challenge for a spot in the Playoff.
Each of the four contenders this season has a skilled quarterback directing a potent offense. A dangerous quarterback is the ultimate advantage.
For that reason, a 5-star quarterback is one of the most sought after players on the recruiting trail. According to 247Sports.com’s composite, there are just two in the 2017 class — and neither Davis Mills nor Hunter Johnson is heading to the SEC.
Landing a 5-star quarterback — like Shea Patterson or Jacob Eason — can change the trajectory of a program, but history has shown us that isn’t always the case.
With that in mind, we decided to look back at the past four recruiting classes to find out the fate of the 5-star quarterbacks during that time.
Class of 2013
Max Browne (No. 11 overall prospect, signed with USC): Browne was the top quarterback prospect coming out of high school in 2013 and enrolled early at USC. After redshirting his first year, Browne served as the backup quarterback his next two seasons. He was named the starter before the 2016 season but was benched after a 1-2 start.
On Dec. 15, Browne announced he would be transferring to Pittsburgh for next season where he will be able to play immediately as a graduate transfer. Browne has started three games and completed 69 of his 112 passes for 650 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Christian Hackenberg (No. 13 prospect, signed with Penn State): There were many analysts who considered Hackenberg to be the better prospect of the two 5-star quarterbacks in this class. He thrilled Penn State fans when he signed, but after a strong freshman campaign, Hackenberg seemingly regressed each season.
Following his junior year, Hackenberg declared for the 2016 NFL Draft and was selected by the New York Jets in the second round. During his college career, Hackenberg completed 56.1 percent of his passes for 8,457 yards with 48 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.
Class of 2014
Kyle Allen (No. 10 prospect, signed with Texas A&M): Allen was the top prospect in his class and only 5-star quarterback. He appeared destined to become another star passer for the Aggies. He got his first career start midway through his freshman season and played significant snaps the rest of the way. As a sophomore, Allen split time with freshman Kyler Murray and played in 10 games for Texas A&M.
After the 2015 season, both Allen and Murray transferred. Allen sat out the 2016 campaign and will play for Houston next year. With the Aggies, Allen completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 3,532 yards with 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Class of 2015
Josh Rosen (No. 12 prospect, signed with UCLA): Rosen was thrown into the fire from Day 1, as the 5-star quarterback became the first true freshman quarterback to start in a season opener for the Bruins. He started all 13 games and broke numerous school records in the process.
Rosen’s much-anticipate sophomore campaign ended when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the sixth game. Big things will be expected of Rosen when he returns from injury. To date, he has completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 5,584 yards with 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Blake Barnett (No. 21 prospect, signed with Alabama): Another 5-star quarterback who chose the SEC, Barnett’s stay at Alabama was a short one. After redshirting his first season, Barnett was named the start for the Crimson Tide’s season opener against USC after an intense camp battle.
His first start didn’t go as expected, however, and Barnett was pulled in favor of freshman Jalen Hurts. With Hurts at the helm, Alabama never looked back during its undefeated season and Barnett announced he was leaving the program less than halfway through the season.
He has said he will transfer to play at Arizona State. Barnett was 11-for-19 passing for 219 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions with the Crimson Tide.
Kyler Murray (No. 33 prospect, signed with Texas A&M): The Aggies appeared to strike gold with back-to-back 5-star prospects at quarterback, but Murray’s time at Texas A&M proved even shorter than Allen’s. As a true freshman, Murray split time with Allen and played in eight games.
After the 2015 season, he transferred to Oklahoma, where he will be eligible to play in 2017. In his lone season with the Aggies, Murray completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 686 yards with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions while also running for 335 yards and another score.
Class of 2016
Shea Patterson (No. 4 prospect, signed with Ole Miss): Patterson was one of three 5-star prospects in Ole Miss’s most recent recruiting class. While Patterson was expected to redshirt behind senior quarterback Chad Kelly, injuries enabled the freshman to find the field late in the season.
Patterson’s first game as a starter was a thrilling one. He led the Rebels to a 15-point comeback in the fourth quarter to capture a 29-28 victory over No. 8 Texas A&M, making several big plays in the process. The next two games didn’t go so well, but he should only get better. In three games, Patterson completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 880 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Jacob Eason (No. 5 prospect, signed with Georgia): One of the highest-touted quarterback prospect for the Bulldogs since Matthew Stafford, Eason arrived with a lot of expectations. He didn’t start the opener but took over soon after and showed flashes of game-changing potential and incredible poise under pressure.
He also had some obvious growing pains and areas that need improvement. With a full offseason to address those problem spots, however, Eason could become another great Georgia quarterback. Eason had one of the most successful freshman seasons for a quarterback in school history, completing 55 percent of his passes for 2,266 yards with 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.