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How have top ranked Juco QB recruits fared?

Do top-rated Juco QBs flame out or have success in D1?

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas football got some good news on the recruiting front back on December 11 when Thomas MacVittie, the top-ranked (and now #3-ranked) junior college quarterback recruit announced he was coming to Kansas.

There were several ways you could have reacted to this. Probably the most common reaction was, “What? It’s basketball season brah.” Or perhaps your reaction was, “Great, ANOTHER juco recruit,” which is totally fair and understandable.

But maybe, just maybe, your reaction was, “Huh, a top-ranked juco recruit? I wonder if he’ll be any good here.” Full disclosure, that was me, so I thought I’d see how other top-rated juco QB recruits fared at their new D1 schools.

I used the 247Composite for all of these rankings. I looked at the top five overall quarterbacks, Pro and Dual combined. I only went back to 2016, but, that still gives me a look at 15 quarterbacks.

As a point of reference, Miles Kendrick was the #17-ranked QB in the 2018 recruiting class, while Peyton Bender was the #10 recruit in the 2017 class.

Top 5 Juco QBs

Class Name Rank Commit Info
Class Name Rank Commit Info
2018 Victor Viramontes 1 Minnesota Transferred back to CC for position switch to LB
2018 Malik Henry 2 n/a Did not sign
2018 Lindsey Scott 3 Missouri Redshirted in 2018
2018 Terry Wilson 4 Kentucky Starter in 2018
2018 Kai Locksley 5 UTEP Starter in 2018
2017 Jarrett Stidham 1 Auburn Starter in 2017 and 2018
2017 Blake Barnett 2 Arizona State Backup in 2017, Transfer to South Florida, starting QB in 2018
2017 Torrance Gibson 3 Cincinnatti DNQ, returned to CC, changed to WR, now in the CFL
2017 De'Andre Johnson 4 FAU Backup in 2017 and 2018, will transfer from FAU for 2019
2017 D.J. Gillins 5 SMU Backup in 2017 and 2018, injured most of 2018, will grad transfer to UTSA
2016 Jerod Evans 1 Virginia Tech Starter in 2016, skipped senior year for NFL Draft, went undrafted
2016 Riley Ferguson 2 Memphis Starter in 2016 and 2017
2016 Troy Williams 3 Utah Starter in 2016, backup in 2017
2016 Justice Hansen 4 Arkansas St Starter in 2016, 2017, 2018
2016 Richard Lagow 5 Indiana Starter in 2016 and 2017

So out of 15 recruits, we have 8 starters, 3 backups, and 4 that just didn’t work out. This makes sense, though - coaches aren’t going to recruit guys with only two or three years of eligibility and not play them.

This probably doesn’t really tell us much without a dive into their numbers, which unfortunately I’m not going to flesh out here. What I can tell you is that Terry Wilson just led Kentucky to 9 wins and a Citrus Bowl bid. Jarrett Stidham won 17 games in two years with Auburn. Riley Ferguson won 18 games in two years at Memphis.

Additionally, this year’s crop of Juco quarterbacks appears to be demonstrably weaker than the past four years. The quarterbacks on our list mostly went to P5 schools. Aside from the top-ranked QB this year who is pledged to NC State, consider that KU was MacVittie’s only D1 offer (although he did take a visit to Vanderbilt). The #2-ranked QB is looking at Akron, Central Michigan, and the like, while #4 has a list of Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, and Wagner.

As for the 2019 Jayhawks, I expect Thomas MacVittie to be your starting quarterback, assuming he stays healthy. However, he will have to deal with the same thing that has plagued Kansas quarterbacks forever - the offensive line - something that only a man named Todd Reesing has been able to overcome in the past 40 years. If Les Miles and the new staff can help the Jayhawks in the trenches, MacVittie’s job gets a whole lot easier.