When Scott Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco arrived at Nebraska, they came with strong reputations as quarterback evaluators. Their history through the years with top quarterback play speaks for itself. Marcus Mariota, Vernon Adams and McKenzie Milton are a few quarterbacks that either Frost or Verduzco have had a hand in guiding.
During Frost’s time at Nebraska so far, few position groups have had an overhaul like quarterback. Adrian Martinez, Luke McCaffrey and Logan Smothers have all been recruited by this staff. Noah Vedral followed from Central Florida too. The health of the Huskers’ quarterback room is strong.
What about those that didn’t end up as Huskers? Of all the quarterback offers Nebraska made for the 2019 recruiting class, 14 played as true freshmen. It's become a growing trend for freshmen to start at quarterback and that was especially true for several of those that Nebraska offered scholarships to.
Let’s take a quick look at how some of those that started peformed for the respective programs.
Jayden Daniels (Arizona State)
(Started in 12 games)
Passing: 205/338, 60.7%, 2,943 yards, 17 TDs, 2 INT
Rushing: 355 yards, 3 TDs
Jayden Daniels launched it out to Brandon Aiyuk for the 81-yard TD to stun Oregon 🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 24, 2019
Max Duggan (TCU)
(Played in 12 games, started in 10)
Passing: 181/339, 53.4%, 2,077 yards, 15 TDs, 10 INT
Rushing: 555 yards, 6 TDs
Max Duggan just bullied the Kansas State defense. pic.twitter.com/NLS03p8Fx7
— Dean Straka (@DWStraka49) October 19, 2019
Sam Howell (North Carolina)
(Started in 13 games)
Passing: 259/422, 61.4%, 3,641 yards, 38 TDs, 7 INT
— Sam Howell (@Sam_Howell2) March 6, 2020
John Rhys Plumlee (Ole Miss)
(Played in 9 games, started in 8)
Passing: 79/150, 52.7%, 910 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INT
Rushing: 1,023 yards, 12 TDs
SEC rushing leader per game?
Ole Miss QB, John Rhys Plumlee
200+ and 4 rushing TD’s vs. LSU pic.twitter.com/xgjLvBnHcD
— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) March 25, 2020
Garrett Shrader (Mississippi State)
(Played in 10 games, started in 4)
Passing: 88/153, 57.5%, 1,170 yards, 8 TDs, 5 INT
Rushing: 587 yards, 6 TDs
— Mississippi State Football (@HailStateFB) December 2, 2019
Grant Gunnell (Arizona)
(Played in 8 games, started in 3)
Passing: 101/155, 65.2%, 1,239 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT
Grant Gunnell’s best play of the night. Set up the game-winning touchdown. pic.twitter.com/0a5Rc3iE4T
— Shane Dale (@ShaneDaleAZ) September 29, 2019
Daniels, Duggan and Plumlee were are right in the mix to be the quarterback for Nebraska in the 2019 cycle. Duggan visited Lincoln several times during Mike Riley’s time as coach and again when Frost was hired. Plumlee originally committed to Georgia but ultimately signed with Ole Miss after the Bulldogs wanted to blueshirt him.
“We got to tour the facilities and check it all out,” Plumlee said about his Nebraska visit. “I wasn’t expecting it to be as nice as it was. The head strength coach Zach Duval, he was very intricate and detailed. He definitely knew what he was talking about, it all really impressed me and my parents for sure.”
Despite the other options, Nebraska has been more than happy with the choice of McCaffrey as the quarterback in the 2019 class. He’s shown big potential even if he hasn’t gotten the opportunity to be a full-time starter yet. Some of the other players who had offers from Nebraska that cycle had opportunities. It will be worth tracking how well various quarterbacks that didn’t wind up in Lincoln perform.
Given the history of Frost and Verduzco identifying quarterbacks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see several have good careers.