Nothing can better define college football than the storylines it forges with every passing season.
From the missed kick in the College Football Playoff to the hard-fought battle quarterback Max Duggan and the TCU Horned Frogs faced in the Big 12 championship, the 2022 college football season was molded by the numerous storylines that made it truly one-of-a-kind.
The storyline of the quarterback battle may be as old as time, but with the start of 2023 spring practices far behind, three quarterback battles may separate themselves as most impactful by the beginning of the 2023 season.
Who is competing for some of the most highly-coveted spots under center in college football? And who will ultimately come out on top?
After two years of reps behind C.J. Stroud, Kyle McCord may be primed to take up the starting role he was slated to take.
McCord said he watched film of NFL quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, all quarterbacks who can extend plays with their ability to dash out of the pocket and make improvised decisions.
“One thing about them in the pocket they're always on balance no matter what is going on around them,” McCord said. “If they make quick, sudden movements they get right back on their platform, so those have been good to study.”
Freshman quarterback Devin Brown may be right behind him.
A four-star quarterback from Corner Canyon high school in Draper, Utah, Brown passed up offers from Mississippi, Texas, USC, Notre Dame, UCLA and Wisconsin when he enrolled with the Buckeyes in early 2022. He was projected to be a Day 2 selection in the NFL draft by 247Sports recruiting analyst Blair Angulo after he threw for 4,881 yards, 57 touchdowns and 14 interceptions during his senior season.
“Mechanically sound and quick to release the football,” wrote Angulo. “Athletic and tough enough to plant his foot and gain yards with his legs. Could continue to improve decision-making and tendency to chase the big play. Needs to improve his touch and loft in tighter windows.
“Potential multi-year starter at elite Power Five level and second-day NFL Draft projection.”
Mississippi landed former Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders, who joined the Rebels one day after former LSU QB quarterback Walker Howard committed to Mississippi.
Sanders, a former four-star commit from Ryan high school in Denton, Texas, started for four years with Oklahoma State. He placed second in school history in passing yards with 9,553, taking spots ahead of 2012 first-round pick Brandon Weeden, Los Angeles Chargers passing game coordinator Zac Robinson and Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.
Will Howard, who took limited college football snaps in his first year with LSU, be able to take his place?
Howard played in two games for the Tigers, earning 33 rushing yards in six attempts as he took snaps against Southern University and the team's bowl game in January.
LSU head coach Brian Kelly expressed confidence in the young quarterback, who made four pass attempts against the Purdue Boilermakers in the Citrus Bowl.
“I would say every day that he is with us, there's more knowledge because I'm in the meetings with the quarterbacks,” Kelly said, via LSU Country Managing Editor Zack Nagy. “He has a great football knowledge. He is mentally strong.
“He believes he is better than every quarterback we have, which is awesome. I love that.”
Will it be the star rookie with a near-100 rating on 247Sports in Arch Manning? Or will it be the former Ohio State quarterback who sprang at the chance to start on his own team in Quinn Ewers?
To Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian, the competition at the quarterback spot needed to remain on the college football field.
“I'm not worried about who's going to be on the cover of what magazine next week,” Sarkisian said, via ESPN staff writer Dave Wilson. “I'm more focused on is, is each guy focusing on what they need to do to develop to be the best player that they can be?
“Quinn has an entire year of a head start, but I don't want to hold Arch back. I want to see how far he can take this thing and what it can look like.”
Ewers, who battled with Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud for a starting spot at Ohio State, threw for 2,177 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first season with the Longhorns. He took starting snaps ahead of quarterback Hudson Card, who transferred to Purdue in December. Manning, a top-rated prospect out of New Orleans, threw for 8,539 yards and 115 touchdowns in his high school career, according to MaxPreps.