Best High School Quarterback Recruits of the Last Decade
When it comes to high school football recruiting, no position is more scrutinized than quarterback. And for good reason. Landing the right recruit can change the fortunes of a program. Every year, a new batch of quarterback recruits shows up on college campuses with the promise of national championships and Heisman Trophies filling up the air.
Quinn Ewers is perhaps the most heralded high school quarterback recruit of the past 10 years, but where does he rank among his peers? These are the best high school quarterback recruits of the last decade.
Note: To be eligible, high school quarterbacks had to earn a five-star recruit rating from at least one of the major recruiting services since 2012.
30. Blake Barnett
High school: Santiago High School (Corona, California)
College: Alabama/Arizona State/South Florida
Career highlights: The Opening (2015)
Bottom line: Blake Barnett was one of four five-star recruits out of the Class of 2015, and the only one not to play in the NFL.
Barnett signed with Alabama and was named the starter before the 2016 season and lost his job to freshman Jalen Hurts at halftime of the season-opening, 52-6 win over USC on Sept. 3. By the end of the month, he'd quit the team.
Barnett's college odyssey was just beginning. He couldn't win a starting job at Arizona State under two different head coaches, then transferred to South Florida, where he ended his career as a backup.
29. Max Browne
High school: Skyline High School (Sammamish, Washington)
Career highlights: Two-time Class 4A state champion (2010, 2011), two-time Washington Gatorade Player of the Year (2011, 2012), U.S. Army All-American (2012), U.S. Army Player of the Year (2012)
Bottom line: Max Browne signed with USC and lost two quarterback competitions to Max Kessler before finally beating out Sam Darnold for the starting job in 2016.
His tenure lasted one game, a 52-6 loss to Alabama, before Darnold took over as the starter.
Browne transferred to Pittsburgh for his final season, where he was a part-time starter alongside Ben DiNucci.
28. J.T. Daniels
High school: Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, California)
College: USC/Georgia/West Virginia
Career highlights: National Gatorade Player of the Year (2017), MaxPreps National Champion (2017), CIF Division I state champion (2017)
Bottom line: J.T. Daniels was as can't-miss as can't-miss could be out of powerhouse Mater Dei High School in 2018. In the four years since, he's seen two classes of his contemporaries with their names taken in the NFL draft while he has struggled.
Daniels started his college career at USC, where he started his first two seasons before an ACL injury, then transferred to Georgia after he lost his starting job.
Daniels once again lost his starting job, this time to Stetson Bennett, who took over and led Georgia to its first national championship in 40 years. In April 2022, Daniels announced he was transferring yet again, this time to West Virginia.
27. Gunner Kiel
High school: Columbus East High School (Columbus, Indiana)
College: Notre Dame/Cincinnati
Career highlights: Indiana Mr. Football (2011)
Bottom line: The Class of 2012 wasn't much for quarterbacks, even though it included a pair of five-star recruits in Gunner Kiel and Max Browne. Kiel got the slight edge as the No. 24 overall recruit, according to 247Sports.
Kiel's recruitment was probably a telling sign of things to come. He committed to Indiana first, then LSU before finally settling on Notre Dame. Kiel lasted two seasons with the Irish before he transferred to Cincinnati, where he ended his career third on the depth chart.
26. Bo Nix
High school: Pinson Valley High School (Pinson, Alabama)
Career highlights: Alabama Mr. Football Award (2019), USA Today All-American (2018), SEC Freshman of the Year (2019)
Bottom line: Bo Nix seemed like he was the real deal at Auburn when he became the team's starting quarterback as a true freshman in 2019, leading the Tigers to a 9-4 record and capping the year by being named SEC Freshman of the Year.
Nix fell flat the next two seasons, going 12-12 as Auburn's starter. He transferred to Oregon, where he'll play his final season in 2022.
25. D.J. Uiagalelei
High school: St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, California)
Career highlights: USA Today Offensive Player of the Year (2018), two-time USA Today High School All-American (2018, 2019)
Bottom line: D.J. Uiagalelei looks the part of a big-time quarterback. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, he has a background that includes being a two-time high school All-American at powerhouse St. John Bosco High School in Southern California.
Unfortunately for Clemson fans who greatly anticipated his emergence as the starter following No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, Uiagalelei tanked in his first year in 2021. With Uiagalelei leading the way, Clemson went a disappointing 9-3, and their quarterback was especially bad, throwing for 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Expect Uiagalelei to have a short hook from head coach Dabo Swinney if he struggles in 2022, especially with another five-star quarterback in Cade Klubnik waiting in the wings.
24. Ty Simpson
High school: Westview High School (Martin, Tennessee)
Career highlights: Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year (2021), U.S. Army All-American (2022), Class 2A state champion (2021)
Bottom line: Ty Simpson has a great opportunity to sit for one year at Alabama behind 2021 Heisman Trophy winner and projected 2023 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young.
Simpson is another undersized quarterback who is fleet of foot and rushed for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior at Westview. He would do well to take lots of notes about Young.
We also always like it when we see a coach's son come through because you know they understand the game so well. Simpson's father is longtime University of Tennessee-Martin head coach Jason Simpson.
23. Kyle Allen
High school: Desert Mountain High School (Scottsdale, Arizona)
College: Texas A&M
Career highlights: U.S. Army All-American (2014)
Bottom line: Kyle Allen was the only five-star recruit from 247Sports in the Class of 2014.
Texas A&M signed the top high school quarterback in the country two years in a row with Allen first, then Kyler Murray from the Class of 2015. Allen's success in high school, we know now, was in large part because he was throwing to a future NFL All-Pro tight end in Mark Andrews.
By the end of the 2015 season, both quarterbacks had left the program, with Allen to Houston and Murray to Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy and was selected No. 1 overall in the 2019 NFL draft. Allen went undrafted in 2018 and has been a backup quarterback with three different NFL teams through five seasons.
Also in the Class of 2014 as the No. 47 overall quarterback recruit? Future NFL Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes.
22. Shea Patterson
High school: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
College: Ole Miss/Michigan
Career highlights: Two-time All-Big Ten (2018, 2019), USA Today High School All-American (2015)
Bottom line: Shea Patterson was the top-rated quarterback recruit in the Class of 2016 and seemed like a can't-miss prospect when he signed with Ole Miss.
Patterson was a victim of circumstance at Ole Miss, where he found himself caught in the middle of head coach Hugh Freeze's cell phone/escort scandal and ended up transferring to Michigan.
Patterson's time at Michigan went about how his whole college career went — good but not great. The most slept-on quarterback in the Class of 2016? Has to be San Diego Chargers star Justin Herbert, who was the No. 39-rated pro-style quarterback in the class.
21. Jacob Eason
High school: Lake Stevens High School (Lake Stevens, Washington)
Career highlights: Gatorade Player of the Year (2015), USA Today All-American (2015)
Bottom line: We will cut Jacob Eason some slack for having a hard-luck start to his college football career. He won the starting job for Georgia in 2017 but was injured early in the season and gave way to Jake Fromm, who guided the Bulldogs to the CFP Championship Game.
Eason transferred back home to the University of Washington, where he posted one season as a very average starter before he was taken in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts, where he's spent the last two seasons as a backup.
20. Christian Hackenberg
High school: Fork Union Military Academy (Fork Union, Virginia)
College: Penn State
Career highlights: Big Ten Freshman of the Year (2013)
Bottom line: One of the joys of going back and looking at recruiting rankings is getting to see the misses. Christian Hackenberg was the top-rated recruit in the Class of 2013 and ahead of a pair of future No. 1 overall NFL draft picks in his class with Jared Goff (No. 23) and Baker Mayfield (No. 79)
Hackenberg's hype seemed spot-on early in his career. He was named Penn State's starting quarterback as a true freshman, which would prove to be his best outing in three seasons as the Nittany Lions' starter.
Hackenberg was picked by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft — when Goff went No. 1 to the Los Angeles Rams — and lasted two seasons in the NFL.
19. Sam Huard
High school: Kennedy Catholic High School (Bellevue, Washington)
Career highlights: Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year (2020), Seattle Times Player of the Year (2021), U.S. Army All-American (2021)
Bottom line: The son of former NFL quarterback and Washington star Damon Huard, Sam Huard was part of the talented group of Class of 2021 quarterbacks that included four five-star prospects.
Huard's uncle, Brock, also started at Washington and went on to play in the NFL. Sam Huard enrolled early at Washington and started one game in 2021. He was locked in a quarterback battle with Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. to be the Huskies' starter in 2022.
18. Conner Weigman
High school: Bridgeland High School (Cypress, Texas)
College: Texas A&M
Career highlights: Houston Touchdown Club Offensive Player of the Year (2021), Under Armour All-American (2022)
Bottom line: Conner Weigman enrolled early at Texas A&M and has already been turning heads in a three-way battle for starting quarterback alongside LSU transfer Max Johnson and Haynes King.
Weigman, who is also an elite baseball player, is a ridiculously entertaining player to watch. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, he's a dual-threat quarterback who rushed for over 2,000 yards in his high school career.
17. Jarrett Stidham
High school: Stephenville High School (Stephenville, Texas)
Career highlights: SEC Newcomer of the Year (2017), Music City Bowl MVP (2018), All-SEC (2017)
Bottom line: Jarrett Stidham was ready to become a college football star at Baylor before scandal hit the program in 2016. Stidham was part of the residual fallout from the firing of head coach Art Briles and transferred to Auburn, where he started for two seasons.
Stidham was selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft and has been on the roster as a backup for the last three seasons.
16. Drake Maye
High school: Myers Ranch High School (Huntersville, North Carolina)
College: North Carolina
Career highlights: MaxPreps North Carolina Player of the Year (2021), Charlotte Observer Male Athlete of the Year (2021), Under Armour All-American (2021)
Bottom line: Drake Maye comes from a family of big-time athletes. Older brother Luke Maye was an All-American at the University of North Carolina and led the Tar Heels to a national championship in 2017. Another of his older brothers, Cole Maye, won a national championship in baseball at the University of Florida.
Drake Maye was locked in a battle with Jacolby Criswell to become North Carolina's starting quarterback and replace NFL draft pick Sam Howell in 2022. Our money's on Maye.
15. Malachi Nelson
High school: Los Alamitos High School (Los Alamitos, California)
College: USC (committed)
Career highlights: California Gatorade Player of the Year (2021), Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Player of the Year (2021)
Bottom line: The Class of 2023 should be called "The Year of the Quarterback." The top three recruits in the country are quarterbacks, with Malachi Nelson at No. 2, sandwiched between No. 1 Arch Manning and fellow Californian Nico Iamaleava at No. 3.
Nelson, who is 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, is committed to USC and will likely get one year to play behind Caleb Williams before taking over for the Trojans and head coach Lincoln Riley.
Nelson is a pro-style quarterback who threw for almost 3,000 yards and 39 touchdowns to go with 8 interceptions as a junior in 2021.
14. Josh Rosen
High school: St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, California)
Career highlights: Los Angeles Time Player of the Year (2015), Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Player of the Year (2015), USA Today High School All-American (2014), Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year (2015), Freshman All-American (2015), All-Pac 12 (2017)
Bottom line: Josh Rosen starred at St. John Bosco High before he became the first freshman starting quarterback in UCLA history in 2015.
Rosen's career at UCLA was plagued by rumors of him being … less than interested in being an elite quarterback. Still, the results were hard to argue with, and after he threw for almost 4,000 yards as a junior, he was taken No. 10 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2018 NFL draft, leading to the famous "nine mistakes" quote from Rosen about the players picked ahead of him.
As of the 2021 season, Rosen was with the Atlanta Falcons — his fourth team in four seasons.
13. Nico Iamaleava
High school: Warren High School (Downey, California)
College: Tennessee (committed)
Career highlights: None
Bottom line: It always piques our interest to see a high-level recruit picking outside the box when it comes to their college choice. Such is the case of Long Beach Poly quarterback Nico Iamaleave, who is committed to play for perennial SEC middle-of-the-pack team Tennessee.
There's a big reason behind why Iamaleave has turned his back on national championship contenders. He's reportedly the athlete behind a record $8 million NIL deal signed with Tennessee's NIL collective, as reported by The Athletic.
There's a reason why Iamaleave is getting this kind of money. At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, he already has the look of an NFL quarterback. As a junior at Long Beach Poly, he threw for 2,444 yards, 33 touchdowns and 1 interception.
12. Quinn Ewers
High school: Southlake Carroll High School (Southlake, Texas)
College: Ohio State/Texas
Career highlights: Class 6A All-State (2020), Class 6A Division I runner-up (2020)
Bottom line: Is it just us, or does something seem off with Quinn Ewers?
The No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2021 spent his freshman season at Ohio State, where he became the first athlete to cash in over $1 million in an NIL deal as he reclassified from the Class of 2022 to the Class of 2021 in order to get access to NIL money sooner — a rule that's since been changed by the NCAA.
Ewers took a total of three snaps as a freshman at Ohio State before he transferred to Texas, where he's expected to be the starting quarterback for Texas in 2022. Ewers was originally committed to Texas before signing with Ohio State.
11. Davis Mills
High school: Greater Atlanta Christian School (Norcross, Georgia)
Career highlights: U.S. Army All-American (2017)
Bottom line: Davis Mills was a five-star recruit out of Greater Atlanta Christian School — the top-ranked quarterback in his class ahead of another future NFL starter, Tua Tagovailoa. Mills became Stanford's starter midway through the 2019 season and set the school record with 504 passing yards in a loss to Washington State.
Mills seemed poised for a breakout season in 2020 but only got to play five games in a pandemic-shortened season. He was selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft by the Houston Texans and became the de facto starter for the Texans as a rookie after an injury to Tyrod Taylor.
Some people might think this is pretty high to have Mills on this list. We think he's been more of a victim of circumstance than anything so far. Still a very good quarterback.
10. Cade Klubnik
High school: Westlake High School (Austin, Texas)
Career highlights: Elite 11 MVP (2021), Texas Gatorade Player of the Year (2022), U.S. Army Player of the Year (2022), three-time Class 6A Division I state champion (2019-21)
Bottom line: Here's the thing about being a quarterback out of powerhouse Austin Westlake High — the bar is pretty high.
Cade Klubnik is the latest, greatest quarterback to come out of Austin Westlake, following a pair of Super Bowl MVP winners in Drew Brees and Nick Foles, and is one of the more highly touted quarterbacks in recent memory.
The three-time state champion signed with Clemson, where he will likely start the season as the backup to embattled starter and former five-star recruit D.J. Uiagalelei.
9. Spencer Rattler
High school: Pinnacle High School (Phoenix, Arizona)
Colleges: Oklahoma/South Carolina
Career highlights: Elite 11 MVP (2018), two-time Big 12 champion (2019, 2020), Big 12 Championship Game MVP (2020), All-Big 12 (2020)
Bottom line: Most football fans got to know Spencer Rattler through the hit Netflix show "QB1: Beyond the Lights." And it wasn't a good look for Rattler, who came off as petulant and a bit of a bully while becoming the state's career passing leader.
Rattler signed with Oklahoma and was benched halfway through his sophomore year in favor of another former five-star recruit, Caleb Williams. Rattler transferred to South Carolina, where he should get a shot as the team's starter in 2022.
Despite the setbacks, it's hard not to see Rattler as a future NFL quarterback. Don't forget he was an All-Big 12 selection and the Big 12 Championship Game MVP in 2020.
That is to say, Rattler is still very good. Don't bury his career quite yet.
8. Drew Allar
High school: Medina High School (Medina, Ohio)
College: Penn State
Career highlights: Ohio Mr. Football (2021), Ohio Prep Offensive Player of the Year (2021), Cleveland.com Offensive Player of the Year (2021), Adidas All-American Bowl (2022)
Bottom line: It's not a stretch to say if Penn State and head coach James Franklin finally become a national championship contender or make the College Football Playoff, we can point to Drew Allar as the recruit who turned things around.
Allar, at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, is a player who has drawn comparisons to no less than Buffalo Bills starter Josh Allen. As a senior at Medina High, Allar led his team to a 13-1 record while throwing for 4,444 yards and 48 touchdowns and also rushing for 406 yards and 9 touchdowns.
7. Caleb Williams
High school: Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.)
Career highlights: Elite 11 Finals MVP (2020), USA Today High School All-American (2019), All-Big 12 (2021)
Bottom line: Caleb Williams was one of the more unusual five-star recruits in history — totally off the radars of most fans as a true freshman at Oklahoma in 2021 after his senior season was canceled because of the pandemic.
Williams took the college football world by storm by saving the season for the Sooners, leading a wild comeback win over Texas in which he replaced starting quarterback and All-Big 12 incumbent quarterback Spencer Rattler at halftime.
When Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley left to become the head coach at USC, Williams followed, and he's an early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.
6. Tua Tagovailoa
High school: Saint Louis School (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Career highlights: U.S. Army All-American (2016), Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year (2016), Elite 11 MVP (2016), District 1 state champion (2016), CFP national champion (2017), CFP National Championship Offensive MVP (2017), Sporting News College Football Player of the Year (2018), Maxwell Award (2018), SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2018), AP All-American (2018), two-time All-SEC (2018, 2019)
Bottom line: Saint Louis School quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was mentored by Saint Louis alum and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota growing up in Hawaii and was a star in his own right, becoming one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country.
Tagovailoa signed with the University of Alabama, where he famously came off the bench to lead the Crimson Tide to a comeback win as a true freshman in the CFP national championship game, rallying to beat Georgia in overtime.
Tagovailoa was selected No. 5 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL draft and has been the starter for the franchise for most of his first two seasons.
5. Justin Fields
High school: Harrison High School (Kennesaw, Georgia)
College: Georgia/Ohio State
Career highlights: Elite 11 QB Camp MVP (2017), 247Sports No. 2 overall recruit (2018), Mr. Georgia Football (2017), AJC All-State (2017), AP All-American (2019), All-Big Ten (2019), Heisman Trophy finalist (2019), Big Ten Championship MVP (2019), two-time Big Ten Quarterback of the Year (2019, 2020)
Bottom line: The nation got a chance to meet Justin Fields during the second season of the hit Netflix show "QB1: Beyond the Lights" and saw a player who looked as NFL ready as anyone in the last decade.
Fields' college career took an unexpected turn when he left home-state Georgia for Ohio State after one season and became a star in 2019, leading the Buckeyes into the College Football Playoff and becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Fields was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears and became the team's starting quarterback as a rookie.
4. Kyler Murray
High school: Allen High School (Allen, Texas)
College: Texas A&M/Oklahoma
Career highlights: Three-time Class 6A state champion (2012-14), National Gatorade Player of the Year (2015), Under Armour All-American (2014), Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year (2018) Manning Award (2018), Davey O'Brien Award (2018), All-Big 12 (2018), AP All-American (2018), AP College Football Player of the Year (2018), Heisman Trophy winner (2018), NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2019), two-time Pro Bowl (2020, 2021)
Bottom line: Few high school accolades, however nonofficial, could be considered more prestigious than the unofficial title of being the best high school football player to ever come out of the state of Texas. In this case, that's former Allen High quarterback Kyler Murray.
Murray went 42-0 as a starter and won three consecutive state championships as Allen High's starter before signing with Texas A&M, where he lasted one season, then transferred to Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 2018.
Murray was the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals and turned his back on a career as an MLB outfielder. He was the No. 9 overall selection by the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 MLB draft and received a $4.66 million signing bonus.
3. Bryce Young
High school: Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, California)
Career highlights: USA Today High School All-American (2019), USA Today Offensive Player of the Year (2019), U.S. Army Player of the Year (2019), CFP National Champion (2020), SEC Championship Game MVP (2021), SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2021), AP All-American (2021), AP College Football Player of the Year (2021), Manning Award (2021), Davey O'Brien Award (2021), Maxwell Award (2021), Heisman Trophy winner (2021)
Bottom line: It's still amazing for us to see Bryce Young work on a football field. At 5-foot-11 and around 185 pounds, the Alabama starting quarterback shouldn't be able to do what he does. But somehow he makes it work.
Young led Alabama to a CFP national championship in 2020 and followed that up by winning the Heisman Trophy in 2021, along with sweeping all of the major college football player of the year awards.
He's projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
2. Arch Manning
High school: Isidore Newman School (New Orleans, Louisiana)
College: Texas (committed)
Career highlights: MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year (2020), 247Sports No. 1 overall recruit (2023)
Bottom line: Arch Manning is the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2023. And he's a high school prospect who's hard to find much of a comparison to.
That's because he's coming from a family where two of his uncles, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, were No. 1 picks in the NFL draft, and his grandfather, Archie Manning, played 14 seasons in the NFL and was a two-time Pro Bowler.
Few college decisions in recent memory, if ever, were as widely anticipated as when Arch Manning finally picked a school — he'll play for the University of Texas.
1. Trevor Lawrence
High school: Cartersville High School (Cartersville, Georgia)
Career highlights: Two-time state champion (2015, 2016), two-time Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year (2017, 2018), National Gatorade Player of the Year (2018), U.S. Army National Player of the Year (2018), CFP national champion (2019), CFP Championship Game MVP (2019), Cotton Bowl MVP (2018), National Freshman of the Year (2018), AP All-American (2020), ACC Player of the Year (2020), three-time All-ACC (2018-20)
Bottom line: If there's such a thing as a perfect quarterback, it's Trevor Lawrence. Another consensus No. 1 overall recruit across all of the major recruiting services, he led Cartersville to two state titles and won 41 straight games at one point.
At Clemson, he led the Tigers to a national championship as a true freshman and back to the national title game as a sophomore. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he became the team's starting quarterback as a rookie.