The new college football season will feature plenty of big names returning at quarterback: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Sam Ehlinger and the like. But with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow gone, along with Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, there will also be some fresh faces making their full-time debuts under center.
Our staff picked their favorite new quarterback taking over the reins in 2020. Some are getting their first starts in their young career. Others may have been asked to play mop-up duty or start in a pinch last season but will now be asked to handle the entire offense. Others haven't even stepped on a college football field yet. However they arrive, here are four names you should know for the upcoming season.
Barrett Sallee: Myles Brennan, LSU
Myles Brennan isn't exactly a fresh face around the LSU football program, but he will be for the rest of the country looking to compare his 2020 season to the Heisman campaign Joe Burrow embarked on last year. Brennan's stats as a backup are modest -- 600 yards in three seasons, including a redshirt season in 2018. But Burrow set the bar higher than it has ever been in Baton Rouge. But Brennan will be fine. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady is gone, but his concepts didn't leave the program when he left to coordinate the Carolina Panthers' offense. What's more, he has Ja'Marr Chase and a talented group of receivers outside. Brennan won't match Burrow's stats, but he will be closer to them than many think.
Tom Fornelli: Chubba Purdy, Florida State
Given he's an incoming freshman who has to acclimate himself to a Power Five program without the benefit of spring practice and is unlikely to enroll in school this summer, the odds are that Chubba Purdy will not begin the season as Florida State's starting quarterback. I have a hard time imagining he won't claim the job at some point during the 2020 season, however.
I don't mean that as a knock on James Blackman as much as I mean it as a compliment to Purdy's talent. Going back to his days as an offensive coordinator at Arizona State before making the move to Memphis, Mike Norvell has taken average-to-good quarterbacks and gotten excellent production out of them. Guys like Taylor Kelly, Mike Bercovici, Riley Ferguson and Brady White have put up numbers in Norvell's system, and it's safe to say those four didn't come with the natural talents that Purdy has.
Purdy comes to Tallahassee as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2020 recruiting class. Plus, the four-star prospect -- who is the brother of Iowa State's Brock Purdy -- will find himself surrounded by a wealth of talent that Norvell's previous offenses didn't have. All of which leads to the possibility that Purdy could make a big impression on college football fans in 2020. I mean, when your name is Chubba Purdy, it's almost hard not to.
Chip Patterson: Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
It's Year 4 of Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma and we're preparing for our fourth different starting quarterback. The remarkable consistency of Riley's program during his short tenure as a head coach, winning the Big 12 and reaching the College Football Playoff all three years with an offense that has consistently rated as one of the best units in the country, provides a template of expectations for the Sooners in 2020. But Rattler is a rare case as the only one of the four quarterbacks to be recruited by Riley to Oklahoma out of high school instead of through the transfer process. When he signed, there was a sense that might set the ceiling even higher for Rattler when Riley eventually handed him the keys to the offense, but that anticipation has been calmed a little by the lack of spring practice to drive (or disprove) that narrative. There's a lot to replace on the offense beyond quarterback, but Rattler's performance seems to be the most definitive marker for Oklahoma's playoff contention in 2020.
Ben Kercheval: Grant Gunnell, Arizona
I'd give this to Alabama's Bryce Young if college football had spring practices go on as normal. But with what will likely be a condensed offseason, Mac Jones is probably the guy for the Crimson Tide in 2020. So I turn my attention to Gunnell, who projects to be the successor to Khalil Tate at Arizona. There's a bit of tragedy that Tate moves on with a whimper more than a bang. His six-week, late-night slaughter of Pac-12 defenses feels like a lifetime ago. But there's new life for Arizona's offense and it is in the hands of Gunnell, a Houston native who had several high-profile Power Five offers, including Texas A&M and Ohio State.
Gunnell is not exactly a fresh face for the Wildcat faithful, but people around the country should get to know the name. He was originally going to Texas A&M, but when Kevin Sumlin became the coach of the Wildcats, Gunnell shifted his attention West. Gunnell came to Arizona with an incredible resume, leaving St. Pius X with the most career yards (16,108) and passing touchdowns (195) ever for a Texas high school quarterback. In eight games last season, including three starts when Tate was hurt, Gunnell threw for nine touchdowns to just one pick. He was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week against UCLA. For as great an athlete as Tate was, perhaps Gunnell is a better fit for Arizona's offense.
I don't know how many games Arizona is going to win this year, or if Sumlin will keep his job at the end of it, but Gunnell can sling it and he has the potential to low-key be one of the more prolific passers in the nation.