A new report from the Los Angeles Times makes a compelling case that if you’re looking for a top college quarterback with the potential to make a run in the NFL, California is the state to go to.
The report from the Times Ethan Bauer showcases data that the Times compiled from 247Sports Composite rankings from the prior five recruiting rankings as well as recent NFL Draft picks. When cobbled together, the results are fairly conclusive: Among the five most recent recruiting classes, California had 41 “top-50” quarterback recruits among the five recent recruiting classes. Texas was responsible for 31 and Florida 24. California also led the way with 28 four or five-star quarterback prospects.
California isn’t on top when it comes to passers selected in the NFL Draft, by a pure or per capita measure, but it is responsible for some of the most notable selections, particularly from individual schools. Traditional Southern California power Mater Dei was home to three quarterback draftees in 13 years on its own. While none of Matt Barkley, Matt Leinart or Colt Brennan became established starting quarterbacks in the league, the fact that all three were selected is a notable accomplishment in itself.
Then there is the NFL Draft Class of 2018, which had three California-bred passers picked among the top-10 overall selections. Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen were both star Southern California products while Josh Allen came from slightly farther afield from Fierbaugh in Central California.
As the Times pointed out, there are numerous factors that go into California’s success in cranking out top quarterbacks. Chief among them is sunny weather, but an intangible quality that stands out among California passers may be just as significant, according to input from 247Sports recruiting analyst Steve Wiltfong and the extrapolation of the L.A. Times relative to the success of the most recent crops of California quarterbacks.
As Wiltfong put it:
“You never know who’s gonna be able to slow the game down, and make the right reads and throws.”