Who is the best freshman QB in the nation?
- Andrew Luck - Stanford (62%, 53 Votes)
- Tate Forcier - Michigan (14%, 12 Votes)
- BJ Daniels - South Florida (14%, 12 Votes)
- Matt Barkley - USC (10%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 85
A couple of Freshman Quarterbacks took center stage in marquee programs this year and have led their teams to some amazing fourth quarter victories and a solid start to their seasons. The top two are already stars at their programs and will be superstars for years to come, while there are others we’ll be keeping a close eye on because there tends to be a big improvement for quarterbacks from their first to their second year.
Tate Forcier – A Huge Impact For The Wolverines
Tate Forcier was born in San Diego, CA and starred at QB for Scripps Ranch High School. He’s the youngest of three brothers who are also quarterbacks, and his father was a quarterback. He started his training with an athletic trainer in third grade, and it shows not only in his incredible talent at such a young age, but in his poise, confidence, and cool demeanor on the field.
After their worst season in history in 2008, Tate Forcier has led the resurgent Michigan Wolverines to last-second heroic wins over Notre Dame and Indiana and an overall record of 5-3 thus far in 2009. It’s been amazing to see a kid this young, with such a small frame at 6′1″ 188 pounds, take over the Michigan offense and lead them to a far better season than many had expected.
Tate has done it both on the ground and in the air. He has excellent speed – a 4.5 forty – and that tremendous, instinctive play-making ability that allows him to keep plays alive, find receivers downfield, or run for big gains. No matter what teams have tried doing to shut down the Michigan passing game, Forcier has usually had the answer. He’s gutted out some injuries, taken the responsibility on his shoulders to bring Michigan downfield in tight ballgames, and has shown that he will be a superstar at Michigan for as long as he wears a Wolverine uniform.
Matt Barkley – A Big, Strong Leader At USC
Matt Barkley is a big, strong-arm QB with pro-style poise and confidence in the pocket. Hailing from the national powerhouse of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, Barkley was not projected to be the starter for the USC Trojans until Aaron Corp was injured two weeks before the season opener. However, there was a lot of talk in Southern Cal that Coach Pete Carroll was wrestling with the idea of starting Barkley, who had been gaining ground quickly on Aaron Corp throughout summer workouts. Corp’s injury gave Coach Carroll just the excuse he needed to see what the freshman could do, and Barkley certainly didn’t disappoint.
Matt led USC to huge wins over Ohio State and Notre Dame, both games on the road, both teams ranked in the top 25, and both in front of massive enemy crowds. But Barkley hardly seemed to notice any of it as he led the Trojans to huge victories and even sprinkled in some last-second heroics of his own.
Barkley faced some injuries of his own. Matt hurt his shoulder in the Ohio State game and sat out Against Washington as he watched the Trojans lose their only game of the year to the Huskies, 16-13.
Two Great Quarterbacks With Different Styles
Matt Barkley and Tate Forcier have a lot in common – both bred to be quarterbacks from a young age, both from Southern California, and both are now starring as true freshmen at powerhouse NCAA programs. But their differences make them perfect candidates for different style offenses, and they both seem to have landed exactly where they belong.
Tate Forcier has great speed, loves to run around outside the pocket, and can make big plays running the ball, which makes him perfect for Rich Rodriguez’s offense at Michigan. Coach Rodriguez has cut Tate loose and given him the freedom to be himself and do what he does best – improvise and make plays however the defense allows at the moment. Forcier is your typical great athlete at quarterback in the NCAA ranks, but he doesn’t give the impression of being a great athlete trying to be a quarterback. In Forcier’s case he’s definitely a great quarterback who is helped out tremendously by his natural athleticism.
Matt Barkley is more of a pocket passer. A big, strong quarterback with a huge arm, Barkley prefers making plays by throwing the ball, but can certainly run when needed. Coach Pete Carroll’s offense is more suited to a traditional pro-style quarterback with more time spent in the pocket and under center. USC has so much talent and such good coaching that Carroll has been able to allow Barkley to manage games wisely as opposed to having to carry the team on his shoulders and win last-second shootouts the way Forcier has had to. But don’t be fooled – Barkley has the poise and play-making ability to carry the team on late fourth quarter drives to win big ballgames.
QB’s Worth Building A Program Around
Both Barkley and Forcier will have to be reckoned with for years to come, and Michigan and USC can be confident enough in their young stars to focus elsewhere in their recruiting efforts for a little while. Although Michigan isn’t having the year that USC is having in 2009, they really weren’t expected to as Coach Rodriguez rebuilds the Wolverine program from the ground up. So don’t let the team’s records and rankings be an indicator of talent or production at the QB position because both quarterbacks are having tremendous years, both are right where they belong, and hopefully we’ll get to see some shootouts between these young guns in the years to come, and quite likely in the Grandaddy Of Em All – The Rose Bowl.