We are in the thick of recruiting season and it's that time of the year when quarterbacks are going to one day camps to try and gather offers if they are early in their high school careers, while the older guys are trying to make commitments before their senior years on where they want to go and play at. There's so much that goes into picking a university for a player. Proximity to home, coaching staff, academics, strength and athletic training staff, culture of the university and tradition name just a few of those reasons for choosing. This decision is a tough one for all. We have been fortunate to help some of our players with these decisions and always talk about going somewhere that's a good "fit." Us 3 brothers all had different experiences at the college ranks which gives us a very different perspective on what to look for when picking a school. Today, we want to highlight our top 5 most underrated colleges that are out there for quarterbacks to choose from.
These 5 schools are in no specific order, but it would be hard to say that this is not one of the most underrated schools for a quarterback right now in the country. Head coach David Cutcliffe runs a very quarterback friendly offense and seems to just churn out quarterbacks like it is his job. He has had the likes of Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Erik Ainge, Thaddeus Lewis, Sean Renfree, and his most current QB Daniel Jones. Jones was the 6th overall pick to the New York Giants in this past year's draft. Duke often gets overlooked as a promising place for a quarterback to attend because of their up and down winning records, being seen as a basketball school, and being overshadowed by powerhouses in the conference such as Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Clemson. Coach Cutcliffe has Duke right on the cusp of being one of the top teams in the ACC. He runs a very "quarterback friendly" offense that fits the skill set of his quarterbacks and puts them in good positions to be successful. One of the great things about Duke is that there might not be as much pressure for them to win. This means that Coach Cutcliffe is probably going to be the head coach as long as he wants to be. This is so important for a QB in choosing a school. You definitely want to be at a school where there's a high likelihood of the staff being there for the duration of your career.
2. North Dakota State
Who? Yep, this is no mistake! North Dakota State has become a Division 1aa national powerhouse, and more than that it has been a place that produces excellent quarterback play over the past 5 years. What's the reason for this? A big part of it is quarterback coach Randy Hedberg. We were fortunate enough to have Coach Hedberg on the podcast recently and were very impressed by his knowledge of the position. He has coached two great quarterbacks that have been produced from North Dakota State in the past 5 years in Carson Wentz and Easton Stick. Carson was the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 draft and Easton was a 5th round pick to the San Diego Chargers this past year. Coach Hedberg has produced the 5 most productive offensive seasons in North Dakota State history the past 5 years with these 2 quarterbacks breaking many records in that process. Guess what folks? North Dakota State wins too. They dominate actually. They have won national championships 7 of the last 8 years. He has coached the position for almost 40 years and played in the NFL for the Tampa Buccaneers before he started his coaching career. North Dakota State would absolutely be on my radar as an up and coming quarterback, no matter who I was. They win, their quarterbacks produce results, and you get to be coached by someone who has produced 2 NFL quarterbacks in the past 5 years. Does it get any better than that?
3. Virginia Tech
Head coach Justin Fuente will have the Hokies back on the national scene before you know it. The Hokies were one of the youngest teams college football last year and will be in the same position this year. Head Coach Justin Fuente and quarterback coach/offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen are two of the sharpest quarterback minds in the game right now. Fuente has produced successful quarterbacks wherever he has been coaching at the last 10 years. Andy Dalton at TCU, Paxton Lynch at Memphis, and Jerod Evans at Virginia Tech are to name a few. Cornelsen has served as the QB coach and OC on Fuente's staffs as they have made the climb up the college football ladder together. Cornelsen's ability to build offenses based off of the strengths of his quarterbacks is something that he does year in and year out to throw up huge offensive numbers. Frank Beamer was the longest tenured coach in college football before he retired. I wouldn't be surprised if Fuente spends a majority of his time in Blacksburg as well. This is super important for a quarterback! Do you want to have success at the next level quarterbacks? It would be hard to find a more experienced duo than this! We have attached our podcast episodes with Coach Fuente and Coach Cornelsen below!
What a special situation in West Lafayette right now for the Boilermaker quarterbacks. Head coach Jeff Brohm has been at the helm the last couple seasons steadily having more success each year. The Boilers defeated 3 ranked teams last year including the Ohio State Buckeyes. Quarterback David Blough was 2nd in the Big 10 last year in passing behind Dwayne Haskins. The quarterbacks that have been under Coach Jeff Brohm have been nothing but productive over the past 15 years. This includes Stefan Lefors, Brian Brohm, Hunter Cantwell, Rusty Smith, Brandon Doughty, and most recently David Blough. These quarterbacks set several school records in their time with Coach Jeff Brohm. With head coach Brohm having to assume more responsibility as the head guy at Purdue, brother Brian now coaches the quarterbacks. Brian was a second round pick to the Green Bay Packers in 2008. With the Boilermakers on the rise and the Brohm brothers bringing their NFL pedigrees/experience to the table, Purdue is an extremely attractive place for a QB to go play. The "Cradle of Quarterbacks" in West Lafayette will soon add more to quarterbacks to that mix in the upcoming years. Better check these guys out! Our podcast with head Coach Jeff Brohm is linked below.
Yes, it is tough for quarterbacks to have success in the SEC due to playing the best defenses week in and week out. The University of Tennessee has put together an all star staff for 2019 in the hiring of Chris Weinke as the QB coach, Jim Chaney as the offensive coordinator, and Tee Martin as the wide receivers coach. Coach Weinke was a Heisman winning QB for Florida State in 1999, Coach Martin was a 5th round QB picked to the Steelers in the 2000 NFL draft, and Coach Chaney has coached quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Jake Frohm. I'm very interested to see how the offense at Tennessee produces this year around a quarterback that has a lot of experience. It's important to understand the magnitude of experience that exists in these 3 guys being on the same staff. This also a very unique situation in that coach Tee Martin (former OC at USC) is now serving as the WR coach. The dynamic of him coaching the receivers from a QB mindset is a quarterback's dream if you're a player. Those receivers will most definitely be on the same page as you are. Look to the Vols to put up big time numbers in the offensive categories this year!
The coaching frontier changes greatly from year to year with coaches bouncing around. With this said, it is important to pay attention to these dynamics if you're a player wanting to play at the next level. When selecting a school, you want coaches that have produced results for previous players, plan on being at that school for an extended period of time, and have the personality of a coach that you respond well to. It's YOUR JOB to find this! These are 5 can't miss programs for a quarterback right now. Better go seek these guys out while they are still a bit under the radar!
-Drew Kiel PT, DPT, CSCS