It’s hard to describe the pressure of replacing program-changing quarterbacks, but every season we sit back and witness new devy stars being born and legacies replaced. One of the most intriguing storylines heading into the 2020 college football season is the quarterback battles taking place at LSU, Alabama, Oregon, and Oklahoma to replace 2020 NFL Draft picks.
While it’s always tricky to replace quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts, it’s the way of life in the devy fantasy football community. Elite quarterbacks usually declare for the NFL draft after three years, so devy players are always looking at the next man up.
Without further ado, take a look at the top college football quarterback battles heading into the new season. For more details on some of these prospects, take a look at my devy and way-too-early 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
2020 College Football Quarterback Battles
2019 Starting Quarterback: Joe Burrow (drafted No. 1 overall by Cincinnati Bengals)
2020 Quarterback Battle: Myles Brennan (JR) vs. the field
The quarterback battle to replace No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow is more of an audition than an actual competition. Barring something drastic happening, junior quarterback Myles Brennan will open the 2020 CFB season as LSU’s starting quarterback.
Before committing to play collegiately at LSU, Brennan excelled at St. Stanislaus High School, where he holds the Mississippi high school records for total offense (16,168 yards), passing touchdowns (166), and passing yards (15,138). The 6’3″ pro-style quarterback entered college as a consensus four-star recruit on both Rivals and 24/7 after a dominating high school career.
LSU’s record-breaking offense must replace play-makers Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Thaddeus Moss, but the cupboard isn’t entirely bare for Brennan to excel. Top devy prospect and 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase returns for one final season in Baton Rouge, along with underrated wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.
Alabama Crimson Tide
2019 Starting Quarterback: Tua Tagovailoa (drafted No. 5 overall by Miami Dolphins)
2020 Quarterback Battle: Mac Jones (rJR) vs. Bryce Young (FR)
After three sensational seasons in Tuscaloosa, Tua Tagovailoa will go down in the history books as one of the greatest Alabama quarterbacks of all time. Following in the footsteps of such a unique talent will be near-impossible, but Alabama has a roster full of potential replacements.
The quarterback battle for Alabama’s starting quarterback is the classic competition between the veteran with game experience vs. wide-eyed true freshman with untapped devy potential. Surrounded by one of the greatest wide receiver groups of all time, Mac Jones replaced an injured Tagovailoa in 2019 then proceeded to throw for 1,503 yards with a 14/3 TD-INT ratio.
After putting up above-average numbers a season ago, Jones would be a shoo-in as the starting quarterback at most football programs across the country. But the majority of football programs don’t have a guy like Bryce Young waiting in the wings.
Young enters college as a consensus five-star quarterback and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect on all primary recruiting services. Young is smaller (6’0″, 190 pounds) than the old-school NFL prototype, but his electric playmaking ability in the open field makes him the perfect new-age quarterback.
Due to spring football practices being canceled, Jones is very likely to begin the season as the Crimson Tide starting quarterback, but it’s only a matter of time before the ultra-talented Young gets the job.
2019 Starting Quarterback: Justin Herbert (drafted No. 6 overall by Los Angeles Chargers)
2020 Quarterback Battle: Tyler Shough (SO) vs. Jay Butterfield (FR)
While the other quarterbacks mentioned have better collegiate resumes, former quarterback Justin Herbert’s passion and love for the Oregon Ducks football program will be especially tough to replace. Herbert has been an Oregon fan since birth after his grandfather played wide receiver for the program in the 1960s.
Former four-star quarterback Tyler Shough is the favorite to replace Herbert as Oregon’s next starting quarterback. Shough played sparingly in 2019, but he did throw three touchdown passes and completed 80% of his 15 attempts in mop-up duty. Early-enrollee Jay Butterfield was thought to be Shough’s biggest competition, but the lack of spring ball puts that into question.
2019 Starting Quarterback: Jalen Hurts (drafted No. 53 overall by Philadelphia Eagles)
2020 Quarterback Battle: Spencer Rattler (rFR) vs. Tanner Mordecai (rSO)
The Oklahoma Sooners reign of winning with transfer quarterbacks is temporarily over. Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts all excelled at Oklahoma after transferring over, but it’s now time for some homegrown talent to take over in Norman.
Much like LSU, the 2020 Oklahoma quarterback battle is more of an audition than actual competition. Redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai is a talented former four-star high school recruit, but the starting nod is almost certainly going to redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler.
After excelling in both high school and camps across the nation, Rattler was a consensus five-star recruit and the No. 1 quarterback in the 2019 class. Not only is Rattler the expected starter, would it really surprise anyone to see Rattler in New York for the Heisman Trophy Ceremony?
Under head coach Lincoln Riley’s tutelage, Oklahoma’s starting quarterback has finished 2nd, 1st, 1st, and 3rd, respectively, in Heisman voting over the past four years. Rattler is certainly talented enough to make it five in a row.