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Rivals Rankings Week: Storylines to follow with top 2026 quarterbacks

Ryder Lyons
Ryder Lyons

The new position rankings for the 2026 class are being released and so it’s time to look at storylines at each spot. Today, we start with quarterbacks.

NEW POSITION RANKINGS: Pro-Style QB | Dual-Threat QB

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RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK

Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-star

Tuesday: New Rivals250 unveiled | Position-by-position | Biggest risers

Wednesday: New offensive position rankings | QB rankings breakdown | RB rankings breakdown | WR/TE rankings breakdown | OL rankings breakdown

Thursday: New defensive position rankings | DL rankings breakdown | LB rankings breakdown | DB rankings breakdown | ATH rankings breakdown

Friday: New state rankings | Who is No. 1 in each state

Saturday: Rivals Rankings Roundtable

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LYONS WATCH 

Ryder Lyons is now the top quarterback in the 2026 class and he’s a five-star prospect so his recruitment will be closely watched, especially as other QBs in his class are coming off the board quickly.

USC and Oregon have been the two mainstays in Lyons’ recruitment and the Trojans could have the edge. There is a good chance that USC could sign five-star Julian Lewis in this recruiting class and then Lyons in 2026 – a phenomenal combo for coach Lincoln Riley and his staff.

But the Ducks have definitely left an impression on the Folsom, Calif., standout as well and the distance is negligible between the two programs. From coach Dan Lanning to offensive coordinator Will Stein, Oregon’s offense has been humming and Lyons fits that system perfectly as well.

Then there are the outliers. Ohio State keeps poking around but hasn’t offered. LSU just offered and Lyons has great regard for offensive coordinator Joe Sloan. Others could definitely be in there as well since Lyons is so talented.

USC is the one to watch right now though as his brother, Walker, has already signed there and is coming back from his religious mission. Does competing with Lewis for playing time impact his decision? Will Lyons take his mission (still undetermined) and then come in and compete for the starting job in a few years?

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WILL SMIGIEL HEAD EAST?

Brady Smigiel
Brady Smigiel (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Brady Smigiel is the other five-star quarterback in the 2026 Rivals250 and he has more than 30 offers. The Newbury Park, Calif., standout is the son of a former pro player, he’s coached by his father and he has all the tools to be elite at the next level and beyond.

And it sounds like two programs have separated themselves from the pack at this point. At the recent Steve Clarkson Quarterback Retreat, Smigiel talked a lot about looking for a program showing him that he’s the guy they want in their class and the coaches at Florida State and Michigan have made that perfectly clear.

The Seminoles could have the edge. Smigiel loves the job coach Mike Norvell has done turning the FSU program back into a national contender and his career track record definitely stands out. There are a lot of things to like both on and off the field from academics to development to J.J. McCarthy going in the first round of the NFL Draft that appeal to Smigiel about the Wolverines.

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MORE FIVE-STAR WATCH

Jared Curtis
Jared Curtis (Sean Williams/Rivals.com)

The trend in recent NFL Drafts is that quarterbacks are going earlier and some franchises are reaching on guys. There has only been one time since 2014 where there weren’t multiple quarterbacks taken in the first round. That’s now a decade of data and we should strongly consider that when looking at our rankings.

Lyons and Smigiel are the only five-stars in the 2026 class so far but it feels inevitable that more could be added. Georgia commit Jared Curtis has had some nice performances this summer so he’ll be one to watch. Every time Jaden O’Neal has taken the field this offseason he’s been more impressive. There are a bunch of quarterbacks in the Southeast with Faizon Brandon in North Carolina among the standouts. The Florida quarterbacks have been great.

If the Rivals rankings are based off expected college performance and NFL Draft position and NFL teams are taking quarterbacks earlier, then some should get a five-star bump and the benefit of the doubt.

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ORDERING THE FLORIDA QUARTERBACKS

Noah Grubbs
Noah Grubbs

This is going to be an endless debate probably until the last rankings release for the 2026 class.

Florida is known as arguably the best state for football talent in the country and yet quarterback has never really been a loaded position group there. That trend has been bucked in the 2026 class as Cocoa’s Brady Hart, Notre Dame commit Noah Grubbs and Plantation American Heritage’s Dia Bell all landed within the top 44.

Even closer than that, Bell was No. 39 nationally, Hart was No. 42 and Grubbs was No. 44. There is going to be endless discussion about which one those three stand out most as the battle is so close among them.

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