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Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Race for quarterbacks hits summer stretch

By Gerry Hamilton

Recruiting the right quarterback means a tremendous amount to every college football program.

In the Class of 2015, the race has been on for months for programs in need of signal-callers.

With the calendar having turned to June, there are more than 55 quarterbacks who have given verbal commitments to FBS programs.

Most recently, Florida snagged West Coast prospect Sheriron Jones over the weekend. In all, 39 of 62 programs in the Power Five conferences have QB commitments, and more are on the way.

The big winner
With the success of recent Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel and more programs changing to a quicker-tempo spread scheme, the SEC is quickly becoming a destination for QB prospects.

Not only is the lone five-star quarterback in the class, Kyler Murray, headed to the SEC and Texas A&M, but six of the 10 commits in the conference are currently rated as four-star prospects and three-stars Kyle Shurmur, Quinten Dormady and Jason Pellerin on the rise this spring.

The ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12 each have three ESPN 300 quarterbacks committed.

Top prospects remain
For fans of Florida State, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon and possibly Notre Dame, Deondre Francois remains a name to know. The Under Armour All-American from Florida is considered a lean to the Seminoles, and with Dormady's recent commitment to Tennessee, the Vols are out of the running.

Sam Darnold has emerged in the class. Had it not been for a fractured foot that cost the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Darnold seven games as a junior, the dual-threat prospect would have been one of the most heavily recruited in the country. Now “late” in the process for a quarterback, Darnold is becoming the nation’s hottest prospect at the position with Utah, Northwestern and Tennessee being among the schools that have offered. An offer from Stanford could be a potential game-changer.

Ross Trail is another four-star signal-caller who is still on the board. The former Louisville commit continues to look at the Cardinals along with Arkansas, Cincinnati and others.

Ross Bowers is a spring riser who has offers from Wake Forest, Colorado and Colorado State. The Buffaloes offered Sunday, and the next offer could be from California.

Lamar Jackson is a dual-threat prospect that has the attention of Auburn, Nebraska, West Virginia, UCF and others. West Virginia has been considered the favorite, but Nebraska could emerge as the team to beat depending on how hard Auburn pushes.

In the athlete category, five-star QB Torrance Gibson remains the top prospect on many boards. He will get a chance to begin his career at quarterback, but he might have more upside at receiver. Auburn, Tennessee and Miami are the schools with the best chance to land him.

Stidham
Despite his commitment to Texas Tech, Jarrett Stidham recently visited Baylor.
Impressive rebound
Notre Dame thought it had snagged its future signal-caller in Under Armour All-America selection Blake Barnett. Following Barnett’s decommitment, the Fighting Irish offered a trio of signal-callers in Travis Waller, Francois and Jarrett Stidham. The best chance for Notre Dame currently is Waller with the Fighting Irish considered the frontrunner as they have a history of recruiting success at Anaheim Servite. Should Notre Dame eventually land Waller, they will have snagged the nation's No. 7 dual-threat prospect.

Down but not out
Baylor targeted ESPN 300 QB Stidham early on with coach Art Briles' connections to Stephenville making many believe the Bears were a favorite. In early March, Stidham surprised some by pledging to Texas Tech. Well, Baylor hasn’t given up on its top target and this battle is still worth watching as the Under Armour All-America selection was on campus in Waco two weeks ago.

Oregon is also in this category. After coming up just short for Murray, the Ducks are in the pole position for Barnett following his decommitment from Notre Dame and an unofficial visit to Eugene last week. Alabama, Ole Miss, Arizona and California have also been in the mix, but the Rebels received a pledge from 6-3, 210 pound signal-caller Jason Pellerin over the weekend.

Continue paying attention
Dwayne Lawson’s commitment to Miami caught many people off guard. While the dual-threat prospect is solid in his pledge at the moment, UCF is making a push.