Team such as Alabama, Florida State, Wisconsin and Georgia were among those who used freshman quarterbacks last season in college football.
Whereas at one point it was a given that a quarterback recruit was going to redshirt, that is far from the situation now.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit sees two reasons, and both focus on earlier development at the position than in the past.
Here is what he had to say this week on a conference call:
“The game has changed so much. I think there’s a couple different reasons why you’re seeing it more now than maybe back in the ’80s, ’90s, even 15 years ago. The reason is I think the way quarterbacks train when they’re in middle school and high school is at a very, very different level now. You get a high-level athlete who has changed with a personal quarterback coach, and you get him ready for his senior year. By the time he leaves as a senior in high school, he is so much more polished, and so much more educated on the passing game and reading coverages. It’s leaps and bounds from what it used to be.
“The second thing, I think, a lot of these quarterbacks get in early. They graduate high school early. They get in for the winter. They go through winter conditioning when they’re supposed to be seniors in high school, getting ready for prom. They go through spring football. So by the time they get ready to come back in August, they’re truly, in my opinion at that point, almost a red-shirt freshman.
“So, you take those two variables in my opinion, the development at a younger age, the fine-tuning, the studying coverages, the ability to throw the ball, and you combine that with getting into school early and I think that puts a lot of these guys in position to be able to play and adjust to the speed of the game, which is usually the toughest thing.”