ESPN released their top ten quarterbacks for the 2020 season, and, as with a lot of ESPN’s preseason rankings, there’s plenty of controversy to be discussed. Much like when ESPN released Northwestern as a top-5 defense, there’s some rankings here that just don’t make sense. So, let’s take a look at who’s too high, too low, and the biggest snubs of this list.
1. Trevor Lawrence – About Right
Trevor Lawrence is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, quarterback in college football. He is the frontrunner to be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft next year, with his main competitor being Justin Fields. He’s somewhat interchangeable with Justin Fields in this slot.
2. Justin Fields – About Right
Fields and Lawrence are the consensus top-2 quarterbacks, so these two rankings seem about right. After that, it gets weird.
3. Jamie Newman – WAY too high
This is one of my biggest complaints with this list, as there is just nothing about Jamie Newman that makes me think “that’s a top-three quarterback in the country”. Newman is a very solid dual-threat quarterback, and he’s in the upper echelon of collegiate signal-callers. But tearing up the ACC is far easier than tearing up the SEC, and Georgia lost workhorse back D’Andre Swift to the draft, putting even more pressure on Newman. After finishing the season ranked 40th in pass efficiency, I don’t understand this rankings at all.
4. Sam Howell – Too High
Howell would definitely be in my top 10, but I don’t think he’s cracking the top-5. Howell had a spectacular true-freshman campaign, but with so much experience returning, and a few other very talented sophomores, I’m not ready to say Howell is #4 in the country yet. UNC has been getting far too much hype, and that hype extends to Howell. He scrapes into my top 10, maybe around #8, but he should not be 4.
5. Tanner Morgan – Too Low
I am really high on Tanner Morgan, and I would venture to say he’s the third-best quarterback in college football after Fields and Lawrence. Playing in a brutal Big 10, Morgan threw for 3,253 yards and thirty touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He put up extremely impressive numbers in some of their biggest games of the season, including a win over then-unbeaten Penn State and a bowl game victory versus Auburn. Tanner Morgan is a sneaky Heisman pick if Minnesota performs well in 2020.
6. Sam Ehlinger – Too High? Too Low? I don’t know
This one is a tough call. If you listen to Texas fans, Ehlinger is the second coming of Jesus Christ, and he’s a shoo-in for the Heisman next year. But to everybody who listens to the “Texas is back” mantra every single year, Ehlinger seems like another overhyped Longhorn, and at this point I’m not sure what to believe. Ehlinger has put up solid numbers, if not jaw-dropping. I have him right around #11 in my personal rankings, but Ehlingher’s rank is anybody’s guess.
7. Brock Purdy – Too High
Brock Purdy is definitely good, but his gaudy numbers – nearly 4000 passing yards – are boosted by the horrendous defenses he faces in the Big 12. Purdy got a chance against a big-time program in Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl last season, but he failed to deliver, never even delivering the Cyclones to as much as a touchdown. I think Purdy will continue to put up numbers, but he’s not a top 10 quarterback in the country.
8. Dustin Crum – Perfect
I love giving the mid-majors some love, and I really think ESPN nailed their ranking with Dustin Crum. He plays for Kent State, which is where Julian Edelman played QB before becoming one of the best slot receivers in the NFL, and while he doesn’t wow you with ridiculous numbers, Crum plays efficient, mistake-free football. Last year, Crum tossed twenty touchdowns to just two interceptions, leading the Golden Flashes to their second winning season since 1987 and first ever bowl game victory.
9. Layne Hatcher – Too Low
I love this kid out of Arkansas State. After redshirting a year at Alabama, Hatcher transferred to Arkansas State and piled up nearly 3000 passing yards in just ten games under center. Interceptions were an issue at times, but mistakes can be expected from a first-year starter. This guy has lots of potential, and he could push to be a top 5 quarterback in the country this season.
10. Kedon Slovis – Too Low
I saw Slovis play once personally last season, and it was at Notre Dame Stadium. As a freshman quarterback, who started the year as the third-string, Slovis came to South Bend and gave the Irish a great fight, putting up 27 points on a very good Notre Dame defense. Slovis is #4 in my personal rankings, and I think he could definitely put USC on his shoulders and bring the Trojans to the top of the Pac-12.
Brady White, Memphis
Brady White is most definitely in my top 10 after leading a dynamic Memphis offense to the Cotton Bowl last season. He put his talents on full display against Penn State – coming into the contest, the Nittany Lions had given up no more than 28 points (to Ohio State), but White slapped 39 points on the scoreboard, and he’s back for more in his senior season. Lawrence and Fields are undoubtedly the first two quarterbacks off the draft board next season, but I think White could make a case to be the third or fourth.
Dillon Gabriel, UCF
Gabriel was put in a really tough situation last year, as virtually nothing he could do was going to meet expectations at UCF. He was taking over for Mackenzie Milton, the best starter in program history who was lost to a horrific knee injury in 2018, and UCF was coming off of back-to-back undefeated regular season. A couple of fairly early losses took Gabriel and the Knights out of the spotlight, but Gabriel continued to perform well, leading UCF to a 10-3 record and bowl game victory. He threw for 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns, and Gabriel definitely slides into my top 10 quarterbacks heading into 2020.
Kyle Trask, Florida
The last of my snubs belongs to Trask. The Florida QB led the Gators to their first 11-win season since 2012, and their highest ranking at #6 since 2009 under Urban Meyer. After cruising to an Orange Bowl victory, Florida might be the SEC East favorites, and they could make a run at the College Football Playoff. If he throws the ball a little more this year, I could easily see Trask being one of the top signal-callers in the nation.