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College Football Playoff: How all four starting QBs got to this point

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

The College Football Playoff semifinals kick off Saturday and Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma all have relied on their field generals to make huge plays to get them there. Take a look at how each team’s starting quarterback got to this position.

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How the College Football Playoff QBs ranked in HS
QB (School) Class Ranking QB Rank Stars

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

2018

1

1

Five

Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

2017

53

3

Four

Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

2015

71

5

Four

Ian Book, Notre Dame

2016

None

15

Three

*****

Ian Book
Ian Book (AP Images)

As a recruit: Washington State originally earned Book’s commitment in the spring prior to his senior season. Notre Dame came calling in the summer. That offseason Notre Dame hired Mike Sanford and his relationship with Book that was built during his time at Boise State helped make flipping Book a bit easier. Book announced his commitment to Notre Dame in August before his senior season.

Performance: Brandon Wimbush started the season as Notre Dame’s starter but Book got some playing time in the Irish's third game against Vanderbilt. He got the start the following week at Wake Forest and hasn’t relinquished the starting job since. Book has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this season, including 23 passing touchdowns while completing more than 70 percent of his passes.

Key moment this season: Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly went out on a limb when he named Book the starter but, judging by results, it was clearly the right move. Book blowing out Wake Forest with Notre Dame’s highest point total of the season put everybody’s concerns to rest and solidified the Fighting Irish's confidence in him.

*****

As a recruit: There wasn’t much drama in Lawrence’s recruitment. Georgia and Clemson were singled out early in the process as his two favorites and after multiple visits to both schools Lawrence chose the Tigers, announcing his decision with a post on social media instead of a large ceremony.

Performance: Lawrence started the season as Kelly Bryant’s backup. He got playing time in the first four games of the season and was named the starter for Clemson’s fifth game of the season against Syracuse. Lawrence has thrown for more than 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns, completing 65 percent of his passes.

Key moment this season: Lawrence’s performance at Georgia Tech will live on in the Clemson history books as the game where the proverbial torch was passed from Bryant to Lawrence. Lawrence went 13 for 18 in that game and threw four touchdowns. On the following Monday, Lawrence was named the starting quarterback.

*****

Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray (AP Images)

As a recruit: Murray’s recruitment was full of twists and turns, surprises, and secret visits. It all came down to Texas and Texas A&M with the Aggies winning out. After some success as a freshman Murray chose to transfer to Oklahoma. It should also be noted that baseball has been a huge part of Murray’s career and he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics with the No. 9 overall pick.

Performance: The Heisman Trophy winner has put up outstanding numbers this season. Murray has accounted for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns through the air with a completion percentage better than 70 percent. He’s also added nearly 900 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns.

Key moment this season: There have been a lot of highlights for Murray this season but the play that really helped give everybody an idea of how good he could be was the 67-yard touchdown run against Texas in the fourth quarter. Murray led the Sooners to 21 points in that quarter and Oklahoma nearly came back to win after being down 45-24. Yes, Murray had helped Oklahoma put up some impressive offensive showings prior to the annual rivalry game with Texas but that play showed the entire country how good Murray could be.

*****

Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa (AP Images)

As a recruit: Tagovailoa dreamed of playing for USC as a kid but a trip to Alabama prior to his senior season changed all that. During a long trip where he also visited Auburn and Ole Miss, Tagovailoa was blown away by everything he saw in Tuscaloosa and he committed to Alabama in May of 2016. USC and a few others still pursued him but he remained solidly committed.

Performance: Tagovailoa put up video game numbers this season while only playing a couple times in the fourth quarter. So far he has passed for more than 3,300 yards and 37 touchdowns with a 67-percent completion percentage. He’s also added five rushing touchdowns.

Key moment this season: Alabama’s biggest game of the regular season was the primetime showdown at LSU. Tagovailoa scored the only touchdown of the third quarter with a 44-yard touchdown run, extending Alabama’s lead to 22-0. It was fairly obvious to everybody watching at the time that Tagovailoa had put the game out of reach and Alabama passed its toughest test of the regular season.