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Emerging Replacement QBs for this Year's First-Round Quarterbacks

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses the crowd with Eminem and the Detroit Lions' Jared Goff, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Aidan Hutchinson and Hall of Famers Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders on the stage before Round 1 of the NFL draft on April 25, 2024 in Detroit.

As the dust settles from the NFL Draft, the college football landscape undergoes a transformation, with several top programs left searching for new signal-callers to lead their offenses, From USC to Oregon, the departure of star quarterbacks like Caleb Williams and Jaden Daniels leaves a void that must be filled by promising newcomers eager to prove themselves on the field, defining the future of their respective teams.

USC: Miller Moss

As USC enters a new era following a disappointing 2023 campaign and the departure of Heisman-winning quarterback Caleb Williams, all eyes are on redshirt junior Miller Moss to lead the Trojans' offense. Standing at 6-foot-1, Moss hails from Mission Hills, California, and honed his skills at Bishop Alemany High School. Under the tutelage of head coach Lincoln Riley, Moss is expected to continue the tradition of successful quarterbacks at USC, following in the footsteps of standouts like Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts under Riley's guidance elsewhere. Despite limited action in 2023, Moss showcased his potential, boasting an impressive 70.8% completion rate with seven touchdowns and just one interception on 46 of 65 passing attempts. His recruitment as the 11th-ranked quarterback nationally in the 2021 class underscores his promise and potential to lead the Trojans to success in the upcoming season. As the Trojans look to rebound in 2024, the question remains: Can Moss be the catalyst to bring them back to prominence?

LSU: Garett Nussmeier

Garret Nussmeier, a redshirt junior hailing from Lake Charles, Louisiana, stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 198 pounds. Under the tutelage of LSU coach Brian Kelley, known for his tough coaching style, Nussmeier appears poised to shine as the Tigers' quarterback of the future. Stepping in for Heisman winner Jaden Daniels in the Relia Quest Bowl, Nussmeier showcased his talent, delivering a remarkable performance. In a comeback win against Wisconsin, he threw for 395 yards on 31 of 45 passing, recording three touchdowns and one interception. Nussmeier's journey began as a highly touted four-star recruit out of high school, ranked as the 12th quarterback in the 2021 class. As LSU prepares for the 2024 season, they aim to capitalize on the momentum gained from Nussmeier's standout performance in the Relia Quest Bowl.

UNC: Max Johnson

Max Johnson, a six-foot-four senior hailing from Watkinsville, Georgia, is emerging as the frontrunner for the starting quarterback position at North Carolina. Johnson emerges as the frontrunner for the starting quarterback position at North Carolina. Hailing from Prince Avenue Christian School, Johnson brings a wealth of experience garnered from stints at LSU and, most recently, Texas A&M. In the 2023 season, Johnson showcased his skills, completing 118 of 190 passes for 1,452 yards, boasting a 62.1% completion rate, along with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. A four-star recruit in the 2020 class, Johnson was ranked as the 22nd quarterback nationally coming out of high school. With two years of eligibility remaining, Johnson is poised to be, at the very least, a serviceable starter under the guidance of coach Mack Brown at North Carolina.

Oct 23, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Max Johnson (14) drops back to pass against the Mississippi Rebels during the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
© Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Washington: Will Rogers

At the forefront of the Huskies' quarterback competition for the 2024 season stands Will Rogers, given the relative inexperience of the other signal-callers on the roster, both of whom are freshmen. Hailing from Brandon, Mississippi, Rogers is a seasoned senior standing at six-foot-two and weighing 200 pounds. While his statistics from his time at Mississippi State may not be eye-catching, Rogers brings invaluable starting experience to the table. In the 2023 season, he completed 142 of 237 passes for 1,626 yards, boasting a 59.9% completion rate with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. Despite being a three-star recruit in the 2020 class, ranked 41st among quarterbacks, the Huskies will rely on Rogers to lead the team through a rebuilding phase in 2024.

Michigan: Jack Tuttle, Alex Orji, Jayden Denegal

As the defending national champions, Michigan finds itself in a unique position with a quarterback competition brewing among multiple candidates to fill the void left by the departure of first-round pick JJ McCarthy. Leading the pack are Jack Tuttle, Alex Orji, and Jayden Denegal, each presenting their own case for the starting role. Tuttle, the most seasoned of the trio, brings seven years of collegiate experience, having initially committed to Utah before transferring to Indiana. Despite limited playing time, Tuttle's pedigree as the 14th-ranked quarterback in the 2018 class is noteworthy, considering he was in the same class as Trevor Lawrence. Orji, a junior hailing from Sachse, Texas, offers a dynamic skill set with his threat to run, showcasing versatility on the field. Ranked as the 12th-ranked four-star athlete in the class of 2022, Orji's ability to make plays in the open field adds another dimension to Michigan's offense. Meanwhile, Denegal, a 6-foot-four, 215-pound junior from Apple Valley, California, boasts polished passing skills despite his limited playing experience. Rated as a three-star recruit and the 27th-ranked quarterback in the class of 2022, Denegal brings efficiency to the position. With a competitive battle underway, Michigan faces the challenge of selecting McCarthy's successor as they aim to defend their title in the 2024 season.

Blue Team quarterback Alex Orji (10) runs for a touchdown against Maize Team during the first half of the spring game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Oregon Dillon Gabriel:

The Oregon Ducks have a history of seamlessly integrating experienced signal callers into their system, and Dillon Gabriel appears poised to continue this trend. Hailing from Mililani, Hawaii, the redshirt senior stands at five-foot-eleven and weighs 186 pounds. Despite being a three-star recruit in the class of 2019, Gabriel has proven himself as a seasoned starter, initially committing to UCF before transferring to Oklahoma. In his most recent season, Gabriel led Oklahoma to an impressive 10-3 record in 2023, amassing 3,660 passing yards on 384 completions with an impressive 69.3 percent completion rate. Notably, he also threw for 30 touchdowns against only six interceptions. With Gabriel steering the offense in Eugene, the Ducks are primed for a deep playoff run in the 2024 season as they look to fill the void left by the departure of Bo Nix, who had a stellar 2023 campaign.

First-Round Replacement QBs Gearing Up for the 2024 Season

As college football programs across the nation gear up for the 2024 season, the spotlight shines on the quarterbacks tasked with stepping into the shoes of their predecessors. From USC to Oregon, these replacement QBs carry the weight of expectations as they aim to lead their teams to success on the gridiron. Whether it's Miller Moss at USC, Garrett Nussmeier at LSU, Max Johnson at North Carolina, Will Rogers at Washington, the trio of potential replacements at Michigan, or Dillon Gabriel at Oregon, each quarterback brings their own unique skill set and experience to the table. As fans eagerly anticipate the start of the new season, the question remains: Can these quarterbacks rise to the challenge and fill the void left by their predecessors, or will they crumble under the pressure? Only time will tell as the drama of college football unfolds once again.


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