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Grading how ACC programs have developed QBs

Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence (USA Today Sports Images)

Player development is always important, as important as recruiting in many ways. So how have Power Five teams been developing quarterbacks in the last decade? Let’s continue with the ACC and hand out some grades.

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BOSTON COLLEGE

Phil Jurkovec
Phil Jurkovec (AP Images)

Regular starters: Chase Rettig, three-star (2010-13); Tyler Murphy, two-star (2014); Patrick Towles, four-star (2016); Anthony Brown, three-star (2017-19); Phil Jurkovec, four-star (2020-present)

The skinny: It hasn’t been that pretty for Boston College at quarterback over the decade but as a run-first team for most of it, it didn’t hurt. Rettig was solid and is fourth on the BC all-time passing list but it has been up and down aside from him. Brown had his moments in his run as starter and Jurkovec was very good last season but he was a transfer. Overall, BC does well with lower-rated signees and the higher-rated players tend to transfer in.

Grade: B

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CLEMSON

Deshaun Watson (4)
Deshaun Watson (4) (AP Images)

Regular starters: Kyle Parker, four-star (2009-10); Tajh Boyd, four-star (2011-13); Deshaun Watson, five-star (2014-16); Kelly Bryant, four-star (2017); Trevor Lawrence, five-star (2018-20)

The skinny: Is there a higher grad than an A-plus? If there is, Clemson gets it. Yes, the Tigers recruited four- and five-stars but how can you squabble with the results? The top three passers in Clemson history played in this decade and two of them won a national title. Boyd started it all and Lawrence is now handing off to the next great one in D.J. Uiaugalelei.

Grade: A-plus

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DUKE

Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones (AP Images)

Regular starters: Sean Renfree, three-star (2010-12); Anthony Boone, three-star (2013-14); Thomas Sirk, three-star (2015); Daniel Jones, unranked (2016-18); Quentin Harris, three-star (2019); Chase Brice, four-star (2020-present)

The skinny: Jones stands out as an unranked prospect developed into a first-rounder and that alone is enough to keep Duke above a C grade. David Cutcliffe is known for working well with quarterbacks and signal callers. Renfree, Sirk and Harris all had their moments as three-stars as well.

Grade: B-plus

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FLORIDA STATE

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston

Regular starters: Christian Ponder, three-star (2008-10); E.J. Manuel, four-star (2011-12); Jameis Winston, five-star (2013-14); Deondre Francois, four-star (2016-18); James Blackman, four-star (2017-19)

The skinny: No team goes from elite to horrible more than Florida State as it’s clear when Jimbo Fisher took over and when he left. Ponder and Manuel became first-rounders and Winston won the Heisman and was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. No one else can compare to this three-quarterback string and it's hard to comprehend how things got so ugly so fast afterward. I wish I could give two grades here but the Seminoles have to fall right in the middle as Francois, Blackman and all the rest were highly-ranked but didn’t pan out and their best QB was a five-star expected to be great.

Grade: B

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GEORGIA TECH

Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas (AP Images)

Regular starters: Tevin Washington, two-star (2011-12); Vad Lee, three-star (2013); Justin Thomas, four-star (2014-16); TaQuon Marshall, three-star (2017-18); James Graham, four-star (2019); Jeff Sims, four-star (2020-present)

The skinny: Georgia Tech’s offense made it hard for most quarterbacks to be graded on a normal scale while Paul Johnson was in charge. Thomas was good as a runner and one of the higher-rated quarterback and overall they had success with the triple option. Sims had an up-and-down freshman season as the Yellow Jackets moved to a traditional passing offense. Thomas and Washington are top-10 quarterbacks historically for the program so that’s not bad.

Grade: B-minus

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LOUISVILLE

Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson

Regular starters: Adam Froman, three-star (2009-10); Teddy Bridgewater, four-star (2011-13); Willie Gardner, unranked (2014); Lamar Jackson, four-star (2015-17); Jawon Pass, four-star (2018); Malik Cunningham, four-star (2019-present)

The skinny: The quarterback position at Louisville has been in great shape over the last decade, with Bridgewater and Jackson finishing as two of the best players to ever play the position in program history. Pass didn’t work out and Cunningham was up then down but is back and likely to rebound. To take the two four-stars in Bridgewater and Jackson and hit a home run, a high grade is warranted.

Grade: A

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MIAMI

Brad Kaaya
Brad Kaaya (AP Images)

Regular starters: Jacory Harris, four-star (2009-11); Stephen Morris, three-star (2012-13); Brad Kaaya, four-star (2014-16); Malik Rosier, three-star (2017); Jarren Williams, four-star (2019); D’Eriq King, three-star (2020)

The skinny: It has not been good at Miami when it comes to quarterback development and the best of the group is King who transferred in. And these are all highly-rated players as well. Harris just didn’t have what it takes to be consistent although his career numbers are solid. Kaaya is amazingly the No. 1 quarterback in terms of yardage in school history but none of these guys will make people forget Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Gino Torretta or Vinny Testaverde. There are some solid careers in here but for what has been expected, it’s very average.

Grade: B-minus

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NORTH CAROLINA

Sam Howell
Sam Howell

Regular starters: T.J. Yates, two-star (2009-10); Bryn Renner, four-star (2011-13); Marquise Williams, four-star (2013-15); Mitch Trubisky, three-star (2016); Nathan Elliott, three-star (2018); Sam Howell, four-star (2019-20)

The skinny: North Carolina has been very solid with quarterbacks during the decade as Yates saw some NFL time, Renner was very serviceable, Williams led the Tar Heels to an ACC title game and Trubisky was a top-five pick in the NFL Draft. I think Howell will be the best quarterback in college football this fall. When you mash the stars and results together you get a great grade.

Grade: A

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NC STATE

Jacoby Brissett
Jacoby Brissett (AP Images)

Regular starters: Russell Wilson, two-star (2009-10); Mike Glennon, four-star (2011-12); Jacoby Brissett, four-star (2014-15); Ryan Finley, three-star (2016-18); Bailey Hockman, three-star (2020)

The skinny: NC State has been amazing at developing quarterbacks over the decade. Wilson started it off as a lightly-recruited two-star, and Glennon and Brissett take over as four-stars that are still cashing NFL checks. Finley, a three-star, is also in the NFL. Things have slowed down slightly but at one point Wilson, Glennon and Brissett were all starting in the NFL at the same time. That’s epic.

Grade: A-plus

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PITTSBURGH

Chad Voytik
Chad Voytik (AP Images)

Regular starters: Tino Sunseri, three-star (2010-12); Tom Savage, four-star (2013); Chad Voytik, four-star (2014); Nathan Peterman, four-star (2015-16); Kenny Pickett, three-star (2018-present)

The skinny: There has been some talent come through here at quarterback and some very solid careers as Sunseri, Peterman and Pickett are all in the top 10 for yards in Pitt history. Savage saw time in the NFL as has Peterman. Voytik was bit of a miss as far as development is concerned. But dealing with three- and four-stars and getting solid results is good enough for a middling grade.

Grade: B

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SYRACUSE

Eric Dungey
Eric Dungey (AP Images)

Regular starters: Ryan Nassib, two-star (2010-12); Terrell Hunt, three-star (2013); Eric Dungey, three-star (2015-18); Tommy Devito, three-star (2019)

The skinny: Man this is up and down but not as bad as you’d think because none of these quarterbacks were ranked especially high. Dungey and Nassib were both very good during stretches and are 1-2 historically for yards but Hunt was not good and Devito has been average. Nassib and Dungey keep this grade above a C.

Grade: B-minus

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VIRGINIA

Kurt Benkert
Kurt Benkert (AP Images)

Regular starters: Marc Verica, two-star (2010); Michael Rocco, two-star (2011-12); David Watford, three-star (2013); Matt Johns, three-star (2015); Kurt Benkert, three-star (2016-17); Bryce Perkins, three-star (2018-2019); Brennan Armstrong, three-star (2020-present)

The skinny: This isn’t very good even with the lower ratings of most of the quarterbacks. There are just too many flat misses here as Verica and Rocco were not good, Johns had a sub-average career. Benkert and Perkins are the saving grace. Armstrong is off to a solid start but QB has not been a strength of Virginia.

Grade: C

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VIRGINIA TECH

Ryan Willis
Ryan Willis (AP Images)

Regular starters: Tyrod Taylor, five-star (2008-10); Logan Thomas, four-star (2011-13); Michael Brewer, three-star (2014-15); Jerod Evans, four-star (2016); Joshua Jackson, three-star (2017); Ryan Willis, three-star (2018); Hendon Hooker, three-star (2019-20)

The skinny: Taylor was a five-star who perhaps didn’t live up to the hype but still had a very good career and is still in the NFL. Thomas was an athlete playing quarterback and moved to tight end in the NFL and it wasn't pretty after that. Thomas and Taylor are 1-2 in career passing yards and were good but overall this has gotten worse over the years and especially when the Frank Beamer era ended.

Grade: C-plus

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WAKE FOREST

Tanner Price
Tanner Price (AP Images)

Regular starters: Tanner Price, three-star (2010-13); John Wolford, three-star (2014-17); Jamie Newman, three-star (2018-19); Sam Hartman, three-star (2020-present)

The skinny: This is actually very good as Price has a really solid career, Wolford put up good numbers and is in the NFL, and Newman had a great run before transferring. Hartman has been good as well. Wake Forest is sneaky good with quarterback development and that’s why it pulls some upsets.

Grade: B-plus

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