With the college football season right around the corner, like many of you, I am excited to see it play out. As with any year, there is hype around a lot of different players as they get ready to showcase what they can do with the goal of being selected in the NFL Draft. But who are the players that will have the biggest spotlight on them? Let’s take a look at my preseason top-five quarterbacks to watch in the 2023 College Football Season.
This position group is a tough one because I for one like the group a lot.
Jordan Travis, Florida State
The redshirt senior from Florida State is in the top spot of my list. He has grown into a great leader during his time in Tallahassee and most notably under Coach Mike Norvell. For me he checks a lot of the boxes, he is calm under pressure, accurate (career-best 64% in 2022), can make throws to anywhere on the field, he shows good ball placement putting it where his receivers can make the catch, and gain yards, and he is mobile (he’s averaged 5.2 yards per carry in his career at FSU). He’s also mobile and can not only extend plays but make them with his running ability.
Caleb Williams, USC
Yes, I realize he won the Heisman Trophy last season, and yes he put up great numbers, but without Jordan Addison (NFL Draft). Duplicating his 4,500-yard award-winning performance is going to be difficult. After Bryce Young won the trophy in 2021, he finished sixth in voting in 2022 so the odds are stacked against a repeat. That being said, he is super accurate (66% career completion percentage), and like Travis, he can make all the throws. Although he’s not as mobile as Travis, he does use his running ability well to extend plays and make good throws on the run.
Sam Hartman, Notre Dame
This season will be a test for Sam Hartman. He showed progressive improvement throughout his time at Wake Forest, but this season he starts for Notre Dame as a graduate transfer. He’s shown that he’s capable to make accurate throws. Last season, he had a career-best completion percentage of 63%. After the 2021 campaign that saw him throw for 4,200 yards and be responsible for 51 total touchdowns, his production did dip in 2022. That didn’t take away from him throwing for almost 13,000 yards in his time at Wake Forest. He is more of a pocket passer that utilizes his feet when he needs to. He is going to have to work hard to elevate a young receiver group.
Bo Nix, Oregon
Transferring from Auburn was a gamble, but Nix used his first season at Oregon to turn in his best season. He completed 72% of his passes and threw for 3,600 yards. He’s a mobile quarterback that runs well and can use his feet and arm well. As everyone saw yes, he and Oregon did get steamrolled by Georgia to start the 2022 season but rebounded with an eight-game win streak where they scored 40+ points in each. This season, I would expect Nix to show continued improvement and better stats. Another season in the Oregon system should show his continued development.
Michael Penix Jr., Washington
To be honest I thought about Drake Maye here instead as both show promise. After transferring from Indiana to Washington, Pennix has had his skills showcased. In his first season with the Huskies, he set a career-high with 4,600 yards passing (his previous high was 1,645). During his time at Indiana, he showed his ability to make plays with his arm as well as his feet. His mechanics seemed forced when he threw. Looking at his season with Washington, his delivery is smoother. He does show good pocket presence and although he doesn’t have the strongest arm in the group, he does have some zip on his passes.
Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Shedeur gets a mention here because he did well at Jackson State, throwing for 70 touchdowns and 6,983 yards in his two seasons at Jackson State. This will be his first venture into FBS competition at Colorado. At Jackson State, he showed great pocket presence, he showcased his arm making throws to all levels of the field. He is a mobile quarterback and can not only make plays with his feet but make good throws while on the run as well. He will be fun to watch in 2023 with Colorado.
Joe Milton, Tennessee
First, I like the athletic ability that Milton has. It would be difficult to find a quarterback with that much ability heading into the season. Also, he has a cannon for an arm. After an injury derailed his season in 2022 I’ll be wanting to see how he rebounds for a third shot at a starting role.
Drake Maye, North Carolina
Truly burst onto the scene in 2022 with eye-popping numbers in his first season starting. I’d like to see what he can do for an encore. He does show good instincts and ability to make all sorts of throws. He does make plays with his feet as well, with 698 yards rushing in 2022.