Even if their favorite teams are good, fans love looking toward the future, hoping that later days will be better.
In that vein, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg released his annual college football top 25 future quarterback power rankings on Thursday, and both the Utah Utes and BYU Cougars made the list.
Rittenberg noted that the exercise is becoming increasingly difficult because of the volatile nature of the quarterback position with the transfer portal, but nevertheless, he slotted the Utes at No. 14, and the Cougars snuck in at No. 25.
Some of Rittenberg’s criteria for how he ranked teams:
- The rankings are done based on who is currently on rosters, “but an eye toward the future also shapes the rankings.”
- He takes into account the chances given players could enter the NFL draft early or the transfer portal at some point.
- “A returning starter matters but a returning starter with multiple years of eligibility might be even more valuable.”
- Depth at the position is a “significant” factor.
- Coaching is also a factor.
Of Utah, Rittenberg wrote that “projecting the quarterback spot always comes with a hint of trepidation” for the program, but that the Utes appear to have a strong foundation with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, incumbent starter Cam Rising, backups Ja’Quinden Jackson and Bryson Barnes and incoming freshman Nate Johnson.
Rittenberg noted that Rising “likely will lead Utah’s offense through the 2023 season,” while also observing that “how Utah uses and develops Jackson will be interesting to monitor” after Jackson was an elite recruit in the class of 2020.
Rittenberg deemed Johnson the “likeliest successor” to Rising if he sticks around.
Regarding BYU, Rittenberg wrote these are “exciting times,” not only because of the school’s upcoming move to the Big 12 Conference, but also because of how well Jaren Hall performed at quarterback in 2021 after replacing Zach Wilson.
“Will he be the quarterback to lead BYU into Big 12 play? If not, the Cougars have a capable backup in Jacob Conover,” Rittenberg wrote, although he wondered whether or not Conover will stay at BYU as the backup that long.
Rittenberg noted that Cade Fennegan and Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters also give the Cougars solid depth, and he touted offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick’s track record in developing quarterbacks, calling it “strong.”
The top of Rittenberg’s list has some Utah connection, as Ohio State is ranked No. 1. That’s mostly because of the return of 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud, but Rittenberg made note of incoming freshman Devin Brown, who played his senior prep season at Corner Canyon High.
Elsewhere, Rittenberg listed Ole Miss with Utah native and USC Trojans transfer Jaxson Dart (who also played his senior year at Corner Canyon after transferring from Roy) as one of four teams that “just missed” the top 25 cut alongside Tennessee, Purdue and Maryland.