The Ten Best College Quarterbacks for 2023
Now is the time to restart everything.
Let’s take a quick look at the best returning players at each position now that we know who will continue to compete on Saturdays in the upcoming season.
The top 10 quarterbacks who will be playing college football in 2019 are listed below. Please be aware that NFL projection is not considered.
1. USC Trojans’ Caleb Williams
Williams joined Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray as the third quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy under head coach Lincoln Riley in the previous six years. Outside of the original play designs, on which he led the country in 2022 in passing yards (707), passing touchdowns (seven), and big-time throws (10), the sophomore shines. He will attempt to join former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin as the only two-time winners of the prized stiff-arm trophy. He is the early favorite to be the first choice in the 2024 NFL Draft.
2. North Carolina Tar Heels’ Drake Maye
The most formidable opponent to Williams in the 2024 draft and in collegiate football in general is Maye. Using PFF’s wins above average measure, the redshirt freshman was the most valuable player this past season. He made 10 more touchdown passes than the next closest FBS quarterback with 45 major throws. With 56 total rushing first downs and touchdowns, Maye also tied for second place among all quarterbacks.
3. Florida State Seminoles’ Jordan Travis
This previous season, neither Williams nor Maye received the highest PFF rating among Power Five quarterbacks. That quarterback would be Jordan Travis of Florida State, who came in third among all quarterbacks in the nation with a score of 91.7. The only quarterback who finished in the top 15 in both the big-time throw rate (7.1%) and the turnover-worthy play rate (1.9%) was the redshirt junior. He recently had a conversation with PFF about his hopes for winning the national championship in 2023.
4. WASHINGTON HUSKIES’ MICHAEL PENIX JR.
With 4,641 passing yards and the fifth-lowest turnover-worthy play rate in the nation (1.3%), Penix dominated the Power Five in 2022. The Huskies’ 11-2 record was their best since they qualified for the College Football Playoff in 2016, thanks to the Indiana transfer. In 2023, he returns to Washington as a serious Heisman contender.
5: BO NIX, OREGON DUCKS
In 2022, Nix saw a career revival. Only 108th among FBS quarterbacks, his 69.7% adjusted completion rate over his first three seasons at Auburn. Nix, however, led the Power Five and finished second nationally with an 82.3% mark this past season.
6. LSU Tiger JAYDEN DANIELS
Like Nix and Penix, Daniels’ career was revitalized by a fresh setting. With a 0.6% turnover-worthy play rate during the previous season, the Arizona State transfer quarterback led all quarterbacks in the nation. The junior quarterback was the only one to gain more than 1,000 yards on the ground. The LSU quarterback was the least valuable Power Five quarterback overall in 2022, trailing only Drake Maye and Caleb Williams.
7. SAM HARTMAN, NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Hartman, who ultimately chose Notre Dame, was the biggest prize of the transfer portal this offseason. According to PFF’s wins above average measure, the former Wake Forest quarterback has been the most valued Power Five player over the last two seasons. The only quarterback in the Power Five with a higher grade point average over that time period is Bryce Young (92.5). Hartman undoubtedly benefited from the Demon Deacons’ slow-mesh scheme, but Hartman should be the best quarterback the Fighting Irish have had during the PFF College era.
8. Michigan Wolverines’ J.J. McCarty
In the second game of the year, McCarthy ousted Cade McNamara as the starter and never looked back, leading Michigan to its second consecutive Big Ten championship and a playoff berth. Outside of the original play’s framework, he prospers. McCarthy and Drake Maye both had five passing touchdowns outside of a structure, and among quarterbacks from the Power Five, only Caleb Williams and Bryce Young had more. A popular sportsbook review website currently has this QB in the bottom half of the top ten while other sites have him in the top 5.
9. KJ Jefferson of the Arkansas Razorbacks
One of the most underappreciated quarterbacks in the nation is Jefferson. His 91.4 grade over the previous two campaigns is tied for fourth among FBS quarterbacks who are returning. The second-most among all quarterbacks in the nation during that time is the redshirt junior, who has ran for 1,221 yards after contact. He significantly improved this past year as a passer as well. With an 86.5 passing grade at the end of 2022, Jefferson tied for ninth place in the Power Five and improved seven points over his previous grade.
10. MICHAEL PRATT, TULANE GREEN WAVE
This past season, Tulane completed the biggest comeback in college football history. The Green Wave won the Cotton Bowl and went 12-2 in 2022 after being 2-10 in 2021. Since the team’s SEC membership years in 1934, Tulane had not won a New Year’s Six bowl game.
As the Green Wave’s starting quarterback, Pratt is back. His 2022 grade of 89.3 placed him among the top five signal-callers in the Group of Five. The junior had the second-lowest rate of turnover-worthy plays within that same group, recording one on only 1.7% of his dropbacks.