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Hawaiian Christmas brings FSU hope at QB, for 2021 season

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“This is Christmas! The season of perpetual hope.” The quote is from the movie Home Alone. With FSU coming off a 3-6 season in head coach Mike Norvell’s first year in Tallahassee and with a roster that has been shrinking seemingly by the day, Seminoles fans needed something positive to grasp on to as the calendar turns over into a new year and eventually the 2021 football season. The announcement that UCF graduate transfer quarterback McKenzie Milton would finish his college career in Tallahassee gave FSU’s football fans just what they needed — hope for 2021.

Just how much Milton changes the trajectory of the FSU program under Norvell remains to be seen but there is hope. One thing Milton does is transform FSU’s quarterback room into one of the winningest, most experienced and productive units in the ACC heading into 2021 season. There are of course questions concerning exactly when Milton will be 100 percent healthy, but we are operating under the premise that he will be healthy because Norvell decided to sign him to a scholarship and you would imagine that he did his homework before reaching that decision. But despite that he has given the FSU football fan base more hope than anything that has happened on or off the field since the day Norvell was announced as head coach. Hope comes in all shapes, sizes and directions. In FSU’s case it hails from Hawaii and he is 5-11 and 185 pounds and his recovery from a gruesome injury is nothing short of a miracle.

To get a look at just how much he has transformed the quarterback situation at FSU (and in the conference), the Osceola takes a closer look at the Seminoles’ situation at the game’s most important position and how FSU’s QB room stacks up against that of the ACC teams it will face during the 2021 season.

All stats below are combined career stats unless otherwise noted.

Florida State

McKenzie Milton

The UCF graduate transfer is clearly the most accomplished and most talented quarterback if he is can return from a devastating knee injury suffered in the final regular season game of the 2018 season. In 2017 Milton was among the most recognizable names in college football, finishing eighth in the Heisman voting after leading the Knights to a 13-0 record. Sources familiar with McKenzie’s rehabilitation have told the Osceola they believe the quarterback is about 85 percent recovered from the injury with nine months to go before FSU plays it first game of the 2021 season. Milton did run the scout team offense for UCF this past season although he was not allowed to be tackled.

From a forecasting perspective, we will assume if Milton is healthy he will clearly be the starter for the Seminoles against Notre Dame in the 2021 opener. Milton has a career record of 27-6 as a starter and UCF did not lose a single regular season game (24-0) in which Milton started in 2017 and 2018. Milton is one of the most productive and winningest quarterbacks in recent college football history. He is considered a natural born leader and a player who teammates gravitate towards, according to at least one source familiar with FSU’s newest signal caller. Norvell will need to fill needs on offense at wide receiver and on the offensive line, and Milton’s signing should enhance FSU’s chance of landing some of the better players on offense that are in the transfer portal.

Passing – 630 of 1,020 (61.7%) for 8,683 yards, 72 TDs, 22 INTS

Rushing – 285 for 1,078 yards, 20 TDS

Jordan Travis

Travis established himself as one of the more dynamic playmakers in the ACC with the ball in his hand this past season. He changed the way FSU played on offense because of his ability as a runner, which opened opportunities in the passing game it might not have otherwise had with someone else at quarterback. If McKenzie is healthy, look for Norvell to get creative in his use of Travis. He could line up at quarterback, running back or wide receiver. Whether Milton is healthy or not, Norvell and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham will find ways to get Travis the ball anywhere from 10-15 times per game.

Passing – 58 of 120 for 908 yards, 5 TDs, 5 INTs, 2-3 as a starter

Rushing – 102 for 657, 8TDs

Chubba Purdy

Purdy entered his true freshman season with as much fanfare of any of Norvell’s recruits in his inaugural class. He was limited most of the season due to a broken collarbone, which required an operation during fall camp. Purdy came back to start his only game of the season in a loss at NC State. He showed flashes of being someone that Norvell can eventually build his offense around. Purdy along with the rest of FSU’s quarterbacks could benefit from having Milton play in front of them and learn from him on and off the field.

Passing – 27 of 53 for 219 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 0-1 as a starter

Rushing – 19 for 57 yards

Tate Rodemaker

Like Purdy, Rodemaker made one start in 2020 against Jacksonville State, a game in which he struggled. He was replaced by Travis in the second quarter of that game and saw the rest of his action this past season in a backup role. He will also benefit from spending a season behind Milton, but he does have a lot of the same characteristics physically and in style of play as the quarterbacks Norvell had at Memphis.

Passing – 16 of 26 for 124 yards, 3 INTs, 1-0 as a starter

Rushing – 8 for (-13)

Notre Dame

All the Irish must do is replace Ian Book, who is the school’s winningest quarterback. And short of signing a graduate transfer it will likely be an underclassman who has never started a game in his college career that will lead the Notre Dame offense into Tallahassee. Here is a look at the candidates to replace Book.

Drew Pyne – Pyne was a true freshman in 2020 after signing with the Irish as a four-star recruit. He has appeared in three games.

Passing – 1 of 2 for 5 yards

Rushing – 1 for 4 yards

Brendon Clark – Sophomore in 2020, No. 21 Pro-Style QB Passer in class of 2019, one game played

Clark was a sophomore in 2020 and was the ranked as the 21st best pro-style passer in the 2019 recruiting class. He has played in one game in 2020.

Passing – 1 for 3 for 7 yards

Rushing – 1 for (-4)

Tyler Buchner – Incoming Freshman, four-star recruit, rated as the third dual threat QB in the class of 2021

Ron Powlus III – Incoming Freshman, three-star recruit, rated as the 79th best pro-style QB in the class of 2021

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are set at quarterback at least for next season with the return of Sam Howell, who has started for UNC since the day he arrived in Chapel Hill. There isn’t a lot of experience behind him but coach Mack Brown does have a stockpile of young and diverse talent behind.

Sam Howell

Howell be a junior in 2021 and is among the most highly regarded quarterbacks in college football. He is 15-9 in 24 career starts.

Passing – 478 of 739 (65%) for 6,993 yards, 65 TDs, 13 INTs

Rushing – 174 for 156 yards, 6 TDs

Jacolby Criswell

Criswell will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. He was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and ranked as the 11th-best dual threat quarterback in class of 2020

Passing – 3 of 4 for 16 yards, 1 INT

Rushing – 9 for 26 yards

Jace Ruder

Ruder will be a redshirt junior in 2021. He was a four-star dual threat prospect coming out of high school who has appeared in six games since arriving in Chapel Hill in 2018.

Passing – 7 of 10 for 98 yards, 1 TD

Rushing – 11 for 40 yards

Jefferson Boaz

Boaz will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. He was a three-star prospect coming out of high school and has appeared in one game in his college career.

Passing – 1 for 1 for three yards

Drake Maye – Will be a true freshman in 2021, four-star prospect, rated as the 6th-best pro-style QB in class of 2021

Maye signed with the Tar Heels earlier this month. He was rated as a four-star prospect and ranked as the 6th-best pro-style quarterback in the 2021 recruiting class.

Boston College

The Eagles were one ACC team that benefitted from the transfer portal last off-season at the quarterback and look set for at least the next season or two with the return of Phil Jurkovec for his second season in Chestnut Hill.

Phil Jurkovec

Jurkovec transferred to Boston College shortly after Jeff Hafley was named the Eagles head coach last off-season. All he did in his first year on campus was help BC to a 6-5 record and greatly exceed expectations with a sixth-place finish in the ACC. Jurkovec had appeared in just seven games in two seasons as a backup for the Irish. He has a 6-5 record as a starter.

Passing – 205 of 336 (61%) for 2,558 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs (Boston College stats)

Rushing – 77 for 150 yards, 3 TDs

Dennis Grosel

Grosel will be a redshirt senior and gives BC one of the most experienced in the ACC next season. He started seven games in 2019 and has appeared in 16 career games.

Passing – 112 of 209 (54%) for 1,551 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs

Rushing – 64 for 231 yards, 2 TDs

Sam Johnson

Johnson will be a redshirt sophomore in 2021. He was rated as a four-star recruit and the 12th-best quarterback prospect in the nation for the class of 2019 by ESPN. Johnson has not thrown a pass in a game for BC to this point.

Ryan Valecce

Valecce will be a redshirt junior and has appeared in six games in his college career. He was ranked as the 44th-best pro-style passer by 247Sports coming out of high school in 2018.

Passing- 3 of 7 (43%) for 27 yards

Rushing – 2 for (-5)

Matthew Rueve

Rueve will be a redshirt freshman. He was rated as a three-star prospect and the best pro-style quarterback in Ohio in the 2020 recruiting class by 247Sports. He didn’t register any stats this past season.

Emmett Morehead

Morehead signed with BC earlier this month. He was rated as a three-star prospect and the 54th-best pro-style quarterback in the class for 2021 by 247Sports.

Clemson

All Clemson has to do in the spring is replace Trevor Lawrence — arguably the best quarterback in program, ACC and college football history. They did get a sneak peek of what the future may hold for them at the position when Lawrence missed two games earlier this year due to Covid-19.

DJ Uiagalelei

Uiagalelei, who will be a sophomore next season, is the presumptive favorite to replace Lawrence and he was impressive earlier this season in Lawrence’s absence. He has appeared in 10 games with two starts. Uiagalelei is not as mobile as Lawrence but has great size and superb arm strength. He is 1-1 as a starter.

Passing – 78 of 117 (66%) for 914 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing – 28 for 95 yards, 4 TDs

Taisun Phommachanh

Phommachanh will be a redshirt sophomore who has appeared in seven career games. He was rated as the 8th-best pro-style quarterback in the class of 2019 by Rivals.

Passing – 5 of 17 (29%) for 17 yards, 1 INT

Rushing – 19 for 90 yards

Hunter Helms

Helms turned down multiple offers from other FBS programs to walk-on at Clemson. He will be a redshirt freshman. Helms has appeared in three games for the Tigers this season.

Passing – 9 of 12 (75%) for 77 yards, 2 TDs

Rushing – 2 for (-7) yards

Bubba Chandler

Chandler signed with Clemson earlier this month. He was rated as a three-star recruit and the 18th-best pro-style passer in the class of 2021 by 247Sports.

Louisville

The Cardinals will have a returning starter at quarterback but after a disappointing season, which saw Louisville stumble to a 3-7 record despite having a talented receiving and running back corps, the job could be up for grabs heading into the 2021 season.

Malik Cunningham

Cunningham is the incumbent and will be a redshirt senior in 2021 who has appeared in 33 career games and has been Louisville’s starter the majority of the last two seasons and started every game in 2020. He had a career high in completion percentage this past season and is a threat with his legs as well.

Passing– 347 of 550 (63%) for 5,155 yards, 43 TDs, 18 INTs

Rushing-332 for 1,588 yards, 18 TDs

Jawon Pass

Pass has entered the NCAA transfer portal and is not expected back although he hasn’t signed with another program to date and still has that option to return by NCAA rule. He was beaten out for the starting job by Cunningham during the early part of the 2019 season. Pass appeared in just three games this season but started 11 games in 18 career games played.

Passing – 211 of 382 (55%) for 2,545 yards, 14 TDs, 13 INTs

Rushing – 112 for 255 yards, 5 TDs

Evan Conley

Conley has been the primary backup for the Cardinals the last two seasons and will be a junior in 2021. He has appeared in 10 career games but saw action in just three games in 2020.

Passing – 44 of 76 (58%) for 661 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs

Rushing – 31 for 78 yards, 1 TD

Tee Webb

Webb will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. He was ranked as the 28th-best pro-style quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class by 247Sports. Webb did not register any stats as a true freshman.

TJ Lewis

Lewis signed with Louisville in January and is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the 35th-best dual threat quarterback prospect in the class of 2021 by 247Sports.

Miami

D'Eriq King
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King (1) hands off to Donald Chaney Jr. King announced he will return to UM in 2021. (Nell Redmond)

The Hurricanes were another team that saw immediate improvement on offense and at quarterback when graduate transfer De’Eriq King decided to enroll at Miami last season and on Saturday he opted to return for 2021. He will stabilize the QB position in Coral Gables and has a chance to improve his draft stock for 2022.

D’Eriq King

King arguably has had the biggest impact on his new team of any of the graduate transfer quarterbacks to find a new home prior to the 2020 season. He was a huge reason why Miami went from 6-7 in 2019 to 8-2 in 2020 with a bowl game left to play. King has thrown for 2,573 yards this season while completing 64% of his passes. He has 22 touchdown passes against just five interceptions and has also gained 708 yards on 122 rushing attempts. King has also made Miami’s offensive line better because of his mobility in the pocket.

Passing – 570 of 913 (62.4%) for 7,498 yards, 72 TDs, 15 INTs

Rushing – 375 for 1.941 yards, 32 TDS

N’Kosi Perry

Perry will be a redshirt senior in 2021 and will give Miami a quarterback with starting experience as the Hurricanes’ backup. He has appeared in 22 career games with 11 starts.

Passing – 189 of 363 (52%) for 2,256 yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs

Rushing – 105 for 432 yards, 3 TDs

Peyton Matocha

Matocha will be a redshirt sophomore in 2021. He has appeared in just one game over two seasons. Matocha was rated a three-star prospect and ranked as the 38th-best dual threat quarterback in the class of 2019 by 247Sports.

Tyler Van Dyke

Van Dyke will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. He has played in two games this season, including getting his collegiate snaps against FSU. Van Dyke was rated as a four-star prospect and the 9th-best pro-style quarterback in the class of 2020 by 247Sports.

Jake Garcia

Garcia signed with Miami in December. He was rated as a four-star prospect and the 46th-best overall prospect regardless of position in the class of 2020 by 247Sports.

NC State

The Wolfpack are another FSU foe who has benefitted from a quarterback transfer and who will enter the 2021 season with an incumbent starter.

Bailey Hockman

The former FSU signee has found a home and success with the Wolfpack. Hockman started eight of NC State’s 11 regular-season games this season and still have a bowl game to play against Kentucky. He has completed 63 percent of his passes this season for 1,820 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions and has gained two yards on 55 attempts on the ground.

Passing – 168 of 323 (52%) for 2,366 yards, 13 TDs, 12 INTs

Rushing – 66 for (-6)

Devin Leary

Leary will be a redshirt junior in 2021. He started three games this season before being injured and has eight career starts in two seasons.

Passing – 167 of 320 (52%) for 2,107 yards, 16 TDs, 7 INTs

Rushing – 59 for 53 yards

Ben Finley

Finley will be a redshirt freshman in 2021 and was ranked the 13th-best overall prospect from Arizona in the 2020 recruiting class. He has appeared in one game this season where he completed 13 of 20 passes for 143 yards.

Aaron McLaughlin

McLaughlin signed with NC State earlier this month. He was rated as a four-star prospect and the 16th-best pro-style passer in the 2021 recruiting class by 247Sports.

Syracuse

The Orange will likely have a quarterback battle heading into 2021 but do have the option of returning two quarterbacks with starting experience.

Tommy DeVito

DeVito will be a redshirt senior in 2021. He started 11 games in 2019 and started four games in 2020 before being lost for the season due to injury. If healthy he will be the most experienced and productive quarterback on the Orange roster going into fall camp. He has appeared in 24 career games.

Passing – 305 of 520 (59%) for 3,478 yards, 27 TDS, 10 INTs

Rushing – 178 for 218 yards, 3 TDs

Rex Culpepper

Culpepper was a redshirt senior in 2020 and could return for next season. He completed just 94 of 190 passes in 2020 for 1,028 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Culpepper has appeared in 30 career games.

Passing– 139 of 266 (52%) for 1,548 yards, 11 TDs, 11 INTS

Rushing – 48 for (-16) yards

Jacobian Morgan

Morgan will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. He actually started two games during the middle of the season with Culpepper and DeVito both sidelined. Morgan appeared in four games in 2020, completing 31 of 49 passes for 285 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Dillion Markiewicz

Markiewicz will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. He was rated the 62nd-best pro-style passer in the 2020 recruiting class by 247Sports. Markiewicz didn’t attempt a pass in 2020.

Garret Shrader

Shrader was a four-star prospect in the class of 2019 who signed with Mississippi State out of high school announced he was entering the transfer portal and has committed to the Orange.

Justin Lamson

Lamson signed with Syracuse earlier this month. He is rated as a three-star prospect and ranked as the 28th-best dual threat quarterback in the class of 2021 by 247Sports.

Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons will return a veteran ACC quarterback in 2021 but have very little experience behind him heading into next season.

Sam Hartman

Hartman will return as the Wake starter in 2021 after starting every game for the Demon Deacons in 2020. He was a part-time starter in 2019 and has started 18 of the 21 games he has seen action in over his three-year career with a bowl game left to play this season. Hartman has seen his completion percentage improve in each of his first three seasons.

Passing – 355 of 624 (57%) for 4,740 yards, 30 TDs, 11 INTs

Rushing – 192 for 355 yards, 5 TDs

Mitch Griffis

Griffis will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. He has appeared in one game in 2020 and completed two of his six passing attempts.

Michael Kern

Kern will be a redshirt sophomore in 2021. He has played in three career games and completed 13 of his 20 pass attempts with one touchdown.

Santino Marucci

Marucci signed with Wake Forest earlier this month. He was rated as a three-star prospect and ranked as the 31st-best pro-style passer in the 2021 recruiting class by 247Sports.

Billy Edwards

Edwards also signed with Wake Forest earlier this month. He was rated as a three-star prospect and ranked as the 55th-best pro-style passer in the class of 2021 by 247Sports.

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