The top QB recruit of the 2011 class has yet to live up to his potential; Photo: USA Today Sports
With National Signing Day just around the corner, I thought it would fun to take a look back at the top QB recruits from the class of 2011. Did they go on to be successful, did they struggle or have they vanished to oblivion? For this look back, we used 247 Sports individual rankings. If 2010 is any indication (the top five pro style QBs in that class were: Phillip Sims, Jesse Scroggins, Jake Heaps, Connor Wood and Tyler Bray), this should be fun. Why 2011? If these prospects took the traditional route (not red-shirting) then they will be rising seniors this coming year.
A couple of observations before we start….
- Florida landed the #1 dual threat QB and the #2 pro style QB from this draft class.
- USC was the only other school to land two of the top QBs as they landed the #3 and #4 pro style QBs.
- Out of the top 10 dual threat QBs and top 10 pro style QBs of this class, the conference breakdown was: SEC (7), Pac-12 (5), Big Ten (3), Big 12 (3), American (1), Independent (1), ACC (0).
- Out of that group of 20 QBs: 5 went on to what I would call Superstar status, 7 others are starters or have started for their team in multiple games, 1 was suspended for the entire 2013 season, 5 have transferred, 1 moved to WR this past off-season but never caught a pass and 1 decided to play baseball instead of football. If you are playing at home, the percentage breakdown is 25% chance of being a superstar and 25% chance of transferring.
Let's take a look at the top 10 QBs from the 2011 class….
Jeff Driskel, Florida (#1 Dual QB, Rating=99)
So far in his college career, Driskel has been more down than up with the Florida Gators. He got to start as a Sophomore, and threw for 1,646 yards with 12 TD and 5 INT, completing 63.7% of his passes. The numbers aren't horrible, but the Florida offense was 12th in the SEC in total offense. As a junior, Driskel only played three games before suffering a season-ending injury. In those three games he had 2 TD and 3 INT. He will be on his third Offensive Coordinator in four years this upcoming season.
Braxton Miller, Ohio State (#2 Dual, Rating= 99)
Miller has been starting since his freshman year at Ohio State and he's been highly successful. He had 13 TD vs 4 INT in 2011, 15 TD vs 6 in 2012 and 24 TD vs 7 INT in 2013. He broke the 2,000 yard passing barrier as a sophomore and a junior. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2012 and 2013. Miller made the wise decision to return to Ohio State for his upcoming senior season and he will be a front runner for the Heisman Trophy.
Christian LeMay, Georgia (#1 Pro Style QB, Rating= 95)
LeMay didn't play high school football as a senior and he has never really gotten back on track. Since coming to Georgia, he was behind Aaron Murray and Huston Mason on the depth chart and this past season he also fell behind Faton Bauta and with Brice Ramsey coming in last year and Jacob Park coming in this year, he saw the writing on the wall. LeMay finished his career at Georgia completing 1 of 2 passes for 42 yards with 1 INT. LeMay is transferring to FCS Jacksonville State this off-season.
Jacoby Brissett, Florida (#2 Pro, Rating=95)
Brissett saw a small amount of playing time in 2011 and 2012 as he battled Driskel for the starting job. In 2011, he was 18 of 39 (46.2%) with 2 TD and 4 INT and in 2012 he was 23 of 35 (65.7%) with 1 TD. In 2013, he transferred to North Carolina State and sat out the season. In 2014, he will battle Pete Thomas for the starting QB job for the Pack.
Kiehl Frazier, Auburn (#3 Dual, Rating= 95)
Frazier played sparingly as a freshman when Gus Malzahn was the Offensive Coordinator at Auburn in 2011. In 2012, Frazier played in nine games but never really found his niche. He completed just 53.4% of his passes and had only 2 TD versus 8 INT. In 2013, he switched to defense although he did have 10 carries on the year for 34 yards. In January of this year, Frazier has made the decision to transfer to Division II Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas.
Max Wittek, USC (#3 Pro, Rating= 94); Cody Kessler, USC (#4 Pro, Rating= 94)
These two will be forever tied together in the folklore of USC QBs, for better or worse. After Matt Barkley's senior season, they battled it out for the QB spot with Cody Kessler winning the job. Kessler finished 2013 completing 65.2% of his passes, throwing for almost 3,000 yards and throwing 20 TD versus 7 INT. Max Wittek played the role of back-up attempting just 26 passes. With Steve Sarkisian coming in as the new coach, both are expected to compete for the 2014 job at USC.
David Ash, Texas (#5 Pro, Rating= 94)
Ash has battled inconsistency and injury during his time at Texas. As a sophomore, he showed flashes completing 67.3% of his passes for 2,699 yards with 19 TD versus 8 INT but in 2013 he played in only three games before suffering a season-ending injury. Charlie Strong takes over at Texas this season and Ash is expected to be the starting QB when the Longhorns hit the field in 2014.
JW Walsh, Oklahoma State (#4 Dual, Rating= 94)
The QB situation at Oklahoma State has been muddled for the last two years. In 2012, Walsh played in 10 games as a red-shirt freshman completing 66.9% of his passes for 1,564 yards with 13 TD against 3 INT. In 2013, he took a step back completing just 59.5% of his passes for 1,333 yards and 9 TD against 5 INT. With his primary competition transferring (Wes Lunt) or using up their eligibility (Clint Chelf), the 2014 job seems to be his to lose.
Brett Hundley, UCLA (#5 Dual, Rating= 93)
Along with Braxton Miller, Hundley is the star of this top ten. As a red-shirt freshman in 2012, Hundley took the Pac-12 by storm. He threw for 3,740 yards with 29 TD and ran for another 9 TD. As a red-shirt sophomore, he led the team in rushing with 748 yards and 11 TD and threw for 3,071 yards and 24 TD. Like Miller, he has decided to return to school instead of entering the draft and should also be high on the list of Heisman candidates in 2014.
As you can see, just because your team gets a "Top 10" QB doesn't mean that he is going to be wildly successful. Out of the top ten above, I would list only two of them as Superstars (Hundley and Miller). Maybe the most interesting thing is that the next ten names from 247 Sports 2011 QB rankings have three Superstars in Teddy Bridgewater (rated as the #6 dual threat QB), Marcus Mariota (rated as the #8 dual threat QB) and Johnny Manziel (rated as the #9 dual threat QB). In addition to those three, Everett Golson (#7 pro style) has a chance to be a star when he returns for Notre Dame in 2014.
As for the other names in the Top 20 QB recruits from 2011?
Bubba Starling, Nebraska- currently playing baseball in the Kansas City Royals organization and hit .241 in Class A in 2013.
Jerrard Randall, LSU- transferred to JUCO and has committed to play for Arizona for the 2014 season.
Kyle Boehm, Cal- moved to WR last off-season and hasn't been heard from since.
Jake Rudock, Iowa- started for Iowa in 2013
Philip Ely, Alabama- transferred to Toledo
Sam Richardson, Iowa State- started for the Cyclones in the first half of 2013 but gave way to Grant Rohach towards the end of the season.