The supposed top quarterback prospects — Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis, and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud — were sidelined this week as others battled for a conference championship, but that created an opportunity to familiarize yourself with other options.
Here’s a look at some of the notable quarterback prospects in action this past weekend:
Max Duggan, TCU: Stock is stagnant
Stats (31-28 loss vs. No. 10 Kansas State): 18 of 36 passes completed, 251 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 15 carries, 110 yards, 1 TD
Duggan risked it all in Saturday’s loss to Kansas State. The opposition was able to pressure him early and often, likely leading to some fear in the pocket. There were times when it felt like he was anticipating pressure, averting his gaze from the pitch and rushing too early. Duggan got some big hits, but always popped out. He rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on the day, including these:
Unfortunately, the undefeated season also essentially came to an end on a Duggan run. His elbow touched just short of the goal line in overtime and the team was unable to score a touchdown.
The Wildcats allowed big plays through the air and ground. His in-field accuracy was poor all day, which may have been related to his discomfort in the pocket. On one particular pitch, he knocked over a wide-open Derius Davis along the seam. On a second play down the line, he found wide receiver Blair Conwright but was dropped. The Horned Frogs got some chances but couldn’t finish the job. Fortunately, it didn’t cost them a chance to compete for a championship.
Jake Haener, Fresno State: Stock up
Stats (28-16 win vs. Boise State): 17 of 27 passes completed, 184 yards, 1 touchdown; 5 carries, -17 yards
Haener is not the ideal size for the quarterback, but he is a feisty player who will battle through injuries. He works well through his progressions and takes the checkdown when nothing else is available to him. The senior is just a smart player who can manipulate the defense with his eyes. There are times when he will predetermine his read and throw, but he is hard to defend when playing within structure. Haener showed good awareness, sliding in late to keep the clock moving with a 12-point lead. It’s easy to imagine him hanging out in the league for a long time because of his understanding of the game.
The California native’s lone touchdown came on a post to wide receiver Zane Pope. It was a tight window, but Haener managed to drive it in for the score.
Aidan O’Connell, Purdue: Stock down
Stats (22-43 loss vs. No. 2 Michigan): 32 of 47 passes completed, 366 yards, 2 INT; 6 carries, -36 yards
O’Connell is a tall, lanky quarterback. At the start of the year, he was high on my personal list of quarterback prospects, but development this year has not been as expected. If he plants, he can drive the ball to all levels of the court, but his footwork in the pocket is still twitchy. Touch and anticipation down the field could have been better.
Purdue was chasing Michigan until O’Connell threw an interception midway through the fourth quarter. It enabled the Wolverines to go up 17.
Michael Pratt, Tulane: Stock down
Stats (28-45 win vs. No. 22 UCF): 20 of 33 passes completed, 394 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT; 6 carries, 48 yards, 1 TD
On the surface, Pratt’s numbers were very impressive, but frankly, he also left a bit on the table. There were imprecise throws he usually makes. The junior completed his only throw beyond 20 yards, according to TruMedia. He struggled as he targeted the left side of the field. Pratt is good at reading defenses and driving the ball to soft spots in the opponent’s zone. As a runner, he gets up to speed quickly and has a good top speed.
Tulane was victorious in their only Power 5 game this season (against Kansas State). They will get a second chance on January 2 against USC. It’s another chance for Pratt to perform on an elevated stage.
Cameron Rising, Utah: Stock up
Stats (47-24 win vs. No. 4 USC): 22 of 34 passes completed, 310 yards, 3 TD; 8 carries, 18 yards
Rising has a good size for position, but he doesn’t have the speed to consistently extend play and pull away from defenders. He has a good sense of the game and was aiming at all points of the field. There were a few drops that didn’t help his case, but the senior also got away with a cross-border interception. Watching the pass boxes, he got one completion beyond 20 yards on four attempts. His least successful zones were along the border, so it led to a deeper dive into his season-long play. Here’s a look at his success this season in every zone, courtesy of TruMedia: