Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Which schools are QB-U?
By ESPN.com staff
Which college football programs develop the best, pro-ready quarterbacks?
That's Brock Huard's question here. To answer it, he enlisted the help of former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, ESPN Recruiting's Tom Luginbill and a former NFL passer Jesse Palmer.
This isn't about productive college offenses, it's about producing NFL quarterbacks. Writes Huard, "This search for 'QB U' is more about projection than it is about collegiate production. Mike Gundy, Gus Malzahn, Dana Holgorsen and Chip Kelly may be at the front of the line when it comes to innovation and quarterback execution at the collegiate level, but the top five schools that follow incubate a passer in a very demanding way on and off the field, at the line of scrimmage and have a recent track record of success that differentiates them from the pack."
Three Pac-12 teams make Huard's top-five.
USC is No. 1, of course. Here's what Huard had to say about the Trojans:
Surrounded by top-flight skill and talent, the country's No. 2 media market, ideal weather conditions to train year-round, an $85 million football facility, a staff littered with NFL know-how and experience, and an offensive-system that centers on the QB position, USC sits atop our list.
Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez have made healthy paychecks in the NFL, and Matt Barkley would have been added to that list had he decided to turn pro this offseason.
Lane Kiffin may have burned bridges in Oakland and Knoxville, but his résumé of college quarterbacks developed over the last 10 seasons is second to none, and don't minimize what he did in his one year with Jonathan Crompton (Washington Redskins) at Tennessee.
Kiffin would be the John Calipari of college football if he had to live within the one-and-done parameters. His recruiting message, like Calipari's, is very clear: If you want to compete for national titles while never losing sight of the ultimate goal of the NFL, then USC is the place for you.
Alabama was No. 2 and Stanford was No. 3. Here are his comments on the Cardinal:
The resources for a young passer are manifold on the Farm: NFL pedigree and experience on staff (Shaw's nine years and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton's seven), cutting-edge training and conditioning facilities, ideal weather and climate, and a strong supporting cast that includes one of the best crop of young offensive linemen in the country.
Andrew Luck, of course, was a game-changer as well. He set the bar so incredibly high for managing formations, shifts, audibles, line-of-scrimmage mechanics and everything else he tackled at the position that Jim Harbaugh told me two years ago in a production meeting that Luck challenged him schematically "to do more, because of what he was able to absorb and handle."
The Cardinal have changed expectations for their program with back-to-back BCS bowl game appearances, and Shaw & Co. are doing less recruiting and more selecting of the top-tier, well-rounded student-athletes (including three four-star QB recruits in the last five classes, with another blue-chip already signed for 2013).
Missouri is No. 4 and Washington is No. 5. Here are his comments on the Huskies:
Steve Sarkisian can coach quarterbacks -- just ask Sanchez, Jake Locker and now Keith Price. Alongside Carroll and Kiffin at USC, Sarkisian molded Heisman Trophy winners and consecutive first-round picks. At Washington, Locker became the eighth pick in the NFL draft a year ago, and Price shattered every significant team passing record in 2011, including throwing 33 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.
The success helped the Huskies land two Elite 11 QBs (Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles) in their latest recruiting class, a feat that led Pete Carroll to call Sarkisian on signing day to ask how he landed such a haul.
The Huskies have a ways to go up front to compete for more than Rose Bowls any time soon; however, when it comes to enticing the best young QB prospects in the land, UW's tape and development speak for themselves.