Replacing the stars: Top 5 teams Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State breaking in new QBs for 2021
For the first time in the CFP era, Alabama, OSU and Clemson have new QBs in the same season. SN lets you know what to expect in 2021.
Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have accounted for 16 of 28 postseason appearances and all but one national championship in the College Football Playoff era.
Yet this marks the first time in the CFP era that all three schools will have a different starting quarterback than the end of the previous season. Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, Heisman finalists through the previous two seasons, all were selected with first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The three projected starters in their place share something in common: All three were five-star recruits from California in the 2020 class according to Rivals.com. Alabama's Bryce Young (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) was the top-ranked dual threat quarterback in that class. Clemson's DJ Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif.) was the top-ranked pro-style quarterback, and Ohio State's C.J. Stroud (Rancho Cucamonga) was No. 3 in the pro-style rankings.
The new quarterbacks are faced with that national championship-or-bust standard. Who are those new starters? Sporting News breaks down the QB situations at all three schools:
Projected starter: Bryce Young The Orange County Register reported that Young was the first African American starting quarterback in school history at powerhouse Mater Dei in California. Young passed for 4,528 yards and 58 TDs as a senior, and he added 10 rushing TDs.
Young and Uiagalelei played against each other in a dramatic California Division I state championship game in 2019. Young finished with 405 yards and five TDs, but St. John Bosco scored 34 unanswered points to rally for a 39-34 victory.
Young was the top dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 class. Early in the recruiting process, Young committed to USC first before decommitting. Adam Gorney, National recruiting director for Rivals and Yahoo Sports, remembers.
"When he started to become a national recruit and Alabama got very, very involved and he took a visit out there, I remember thinking the writing was sort of on the wall," Gorney told SN. "At that time, there were questions about Clay Helton's future there9at USC), and whether he would be there after the season and what the offense would look like."
Last yearMac Jones led Alabama to a 13-0 record and a national championship in 2020 with 4,500 yards, 41 TDs and four interceptions. Young finished 13 of 22 for 156 yards and a TD as a backup last season.
QB competition?Redshirt sophomore Paul Tyson, the great grandson of Bear Bryant; and four-star freshman Jalen Milroe also are on the roster. Young is expected to start when Alabama faces Miami on Sept. 4.
What to expectYoung is working with a new supporting cast. Running back Brian Robinson, receiver John Metchie III and Slade Bolden are expected to take on more pronounced roles, and new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien should add a new spin to the offensive scheme. Alabama quarterbacks have combined for 143 TDs and 18 interceptions the last three seasons. It's on Young to be as efficient as Tagovailoa and Jones were in that role.
"Either by design or mop-up time, (Young) did not get to show what he can do," Gorney said. "He is a dynamic playmaker and incredible decision maker. He will run on the field and you will say 'Wow, that kid is small' and he will go dominate.'"
X-factorAlabama brings in O'Brien, who was the offensive coordinator in New England before head-coaching stints with Penn State and the Houston Texans.
"We want to continue to run the same type of offense and feature the players that we have who are playmakers who can make plays, and I think Bill will do a good job of that," Alabama coach Nick Saban said at SEC Media Days.
That relationship between Young and O'Brien will be scrutinized, especially early in the season.