Scouting 10 top QB recruits in the 2025 class: Strengths, fits and areas of improvement

NCAAF

While not as deep as recent classes, the future of college football is still in good hands (or arms) with the highly developed quarterback prospects in the 2025 class.

While the 2024 recruiting cycle featured an unprecedented number of dual-threat prospects, with two — D.J. Lagway and Julian Sayin — in the top 10, this class features two of the best pocket passers in the past several years.

The top of the ESPN 300 could come down to the wire for Julian Lewis and Bryce Underwood who sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Both pocket passers match up with best we have seen at the position and will compete at this week’s Elite 11 Final.

The Elite 11 Final is a showcase event featuring 20 top quarterback recruits that in past years has featured the likes of Matthew Stafford and Bryce Young.

Ahead of this QB showcase, we break down the top five dual-threat quarterbacks and the top five pocket passers in the 2025 class.

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Pocket passers | Dual threats

Pocket passers

ESPN 300 ranking: 1
Committed to: USC

Strengths: Everything about Lewis is fluid and smooth. He can make things look effortless. He can change arm angles and is consistent fundamentally from his feet to his shoulders which leads to consistent accuracy in a catchable ball. He has a unique ability to change ball speeds to suit the throw, and shows anticipation skills to throw to a spot, trusting that his target’s going to get to the landmark. His release is one of his strongest traits. It’s very difficult to rush or pressure him because he can get the ball out from a variety of angles. He plays like a slightly smaller version of Spencer Rattler at South Carolina.

Areas for improvement: Lewis can show more urgency, especially in drill work. At times, it looks like he’s going through the motions. He’s a good enough QB to make more plays with his feet than he does and should take some opportunities when it’s there to flush the pocket and create second chances. While he may not have an elite arm like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, he has a good arm and good velocity on his throws.

How he fits at USC: Lewis can do all of the things that Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, Baker Mayfield and most recently Caleb Williams did in Lincoln Riley’s offense. Lewis is at his best spreading the field and getting the ball out of his hand quickly. Nobody is going to be the dynamic player that Williams was, but the scheme is so quarterback-friendly that Lewis should flourish.


ESPN 300 ranking: 2
Committed to: LSU

Strengths: Underwood’s blend of size and length combined with a powerful arm and sturdy stature make for the ideal measurable standard. He has an 82-inch wingspan and 10-inch hands. The ball jumps off his hand with power and velocity. He plays with confidence and poise and can make things look easy. He is a really good QB, but maybe not a true dual threat. He can run when he needs to and create second chances out of the pocket. One of his best attributes is the deep ball. Underwood is like a right-handed Michael Penix Jr.

Areas of improvement: He can be a little tense in the upper body and he could be more consistent with his feet and platform within the pocket. He has so much arm talent and arm strength that he can get away with making plays that most prospects would not be able to accurately perform.

How he fits at LSU: Underwood is capable of achieving everything that Jayden Daniels did under center for the Tigers. Underwood will not likely make the same number of plays with his legs, but he will be able to pinpoint the football to intermediate and deep levels of the field. New offensive playcaller Joe Sloan is going to have an awful lot of clay to mold here.


ESPN 300 ranking: 40
Uncommitted

Strengths: The first thing that stands out about Hill is pure arm strength. He is also blessed with terrific size, at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds. He is not a true runner, but he has sneaky good pocket quickness to evade, keep his eyes down field and get the ball out. For a big, long prospect he is good off platform and can change arm angles when falling away or throwing on the run. His arm strength allows for him to accurately make plays when things aren’t perfect. He has been very productive at a high level on the field.

Areas of improvement: He can be a bit tense and robotic in his movements and play a little looser. He could also be a more willing runner when the opportunities are there.

Best fit: Memphis appears to be the favorite to land Hill. This would be a huge win for Tigers coach Ryan Silverfield as Memphis could be a College Football Playoff buster in 2024. He needs to be in a heavy RPO offense that is going to attack the field vertically and utilize his arm strength.


ESPN 300 ranking: 48
Committed to: Ohio State

Strengths: He checks just about every box from a physical standpoint. He’s not blazing fast, but he has some body quickness and pocket mobility. St. Clair is physically imposing with a strong arm and the ability to drive the ball vertically. He is really productive when moving the pocket to change the launch point. He seems to thrive on off-platform throws, especially to his left.

Areas of improvement: Accuracy. He throws a catchable ball but doesn’t always hit the strike zone consistently. Mechanically, he has a slight dip and loop in his release that he could clean up by carrying the ball a little bit higher. It would help him get the ball out in a more fluid motion.

How he fits at Ohio State: There is no reason new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly can’t utilize St. Clair’s tools in similar fashion to his quarterbacks at Oregon. A heavy dose of zone read, RPO and throws on the move would accentuate St. Clair’s strengths.


ESPN 300 ranking: 56
Committed to: Tennessee

Strengths: At 6-6, MacIntyre has rare height and is a pure pocket player with good feet and sneaky pocket quickness. He’s a late bloomer physically, and that’s a good thing. He handles the ball well and is fundamentally sound and consistent. MacIntyre possesses a strong, but not elite arm. With time in the weight room and physical development, his arm will get stronger. He sees the field well and consistently makes good decisions on time.

Areas of improvement: Growth and physical strength. He’s underdeveloped, super tall and rail thin. The fact that he’s not going to have to play right away at Tennessee is going to aid his development and maturity.

How he fits at Tennessee: Josh Heupel employs today’s best plug-and-play quarterback scheme in college football. MacIntyre remind us a little bit of what Drew Lock looked like in this offense when Heupel had him at Missouri. This is a nice in-state pick up for the Vols.


Dual threats

ESPN 300 ranking: 81
Committed to: Alabama

Strengths: Russell is possibly the highest upside player of any of the top 25 quarterbacks in the 2025 class regardless of category. Everything he does is smooth, consistent and effortless. The ball flicks off his hand. He can play both from under center and out of the shotgun and has been highly productive at one of the highest levels of high school football in the country. He checks the measurable standard boxes yet still has the upside to mature and physically advance.

Areas of improvement: Consistency. He can have “wow” moments and then disappear for a few reps. You can see he has the skills, but he needs to show it on an every-snap basis.

How he fits at Alabama: There are a lot of similarities to Michael Penix Jr. and what he was able to do in Kalen DeBoer’s offense. Russell can push the ball downfield, and is going into an offense that is one of the most attractive schemes in college football. There is enough stability in Tuscaloosa to allow Russell to come in and learn. With Penix and Jake Haener at Fresno State, DeBoer has a track record of quarterback play and development, and getting Russell to flip from his SMU commitment shows how important Russell can be to Bama’s future.


ESPN 300 ranking: 133
Committed to: Notre Dame

Strengths: Knight is a physically advanced, powerful left-handed passer who has the tools to mold for the next level. He can really unleash the football with pure arm strength, giving him the ability to make a variety of throws from in and out of the pocket. For a left-handed passer, he is compact in his delivery methods. The ball carries with power, and he can connect at the intermediate and deep levels. He also has speed and ran a laser-timed 4.7 40-yard dash.

Areas of improvement: Knight is still very raw. There are fundamental footwork and release mechanics that need to get polished and honed. He can also be erratic with his accuracy.

How he fits at Notre Dame: New offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock will be able to do all the things he did when he coached Desmond Ritter at Cincinnati and Jayden Daniels at LSU. Knight can operate the zone read game and be utilized as a designated runner as well as in the RPO game.


ESPN 300 ranking: 253
Committed to: TCU

Strengths: At 6-1, 205, Hawkins has only average size, but ran a 4.7 40-yard dash and has 10-inch hands. The ball really jumps out of his hand with power and velocity. Hawkins’ snappy release is his best trait. He can play from under center and out of the shotgun, and is fundamentally consistent with his footwork and platform. He can also escape and create when things break down. When he breaks the pocket, Hawkins is a dangerous runner in the open field.

Areas of improvement: He reminds us of Kyler Murray. They have similar physical traits, but Hawkins might get bigger or more physical like Murray did. Hawkins is a really good player who has flown under the radar. With his size, he needs to be in the spread to consistently see the field clearly.

How he fits at TCU: This is an exciting commitment for the Horned Frogs. Hawkins can do everything that offensive coordinator Kendal Briles wants to do in this scheme, and he’s a much better runner than current starter Josh Hoover. The RPO and quarterback zone run scheme will enhance Hawkins’ skill set.


Ranking: Four-star
Committed to: North Carolina

Strengths: Baker has really blossomed and grown in terms of stature and strength. He is a physically imposing passer and runner with speed and agility. He has a quick release and is decisive in the RPO game. He is a talented runner with elusiveness and lateral agility to be used in the quarterback run game.

Areas of improvement: Still a bit raw. While he delivers the ball quickly, he also has a bit of a side arm delivery and low elbow. He tends to drop the ball down and take his guard hand off the ball when on the move. All coachable traits.

How he fits at UNC: Baker can do a little bit of everything and has upside to develop and hone his skills. Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has some raw talent to mold here. Hopefully the Tar Heels won’t have to play with him right away.


Ranking: Four-star
Committed to: Clemson

Strengths: With his build, he doesn’t necessarily look like a dual threat, but he is. Hebert possesses terrific mobility, pocket quickness and is dangerous if he leaves the pocket. He has a strong arm and can drive the ball vertically and attack all areas of the field with his arm.

Areas of improvement: Playing in Greenwich, Connecticut, Hebert does not face top competition like his peers. That’s not something he can help. He’s very consistent in his methods, but needs to loosen up a bit and make more improvised plays in the passing game.

How he fits at Clemson: Hebert is like a bigger, stronger-armed version of TCU’s Max Duggan. Clemson offensive coordinator Garrett Riley coached Duggan at TCU and will know exactly what to do with Hebert. He has very attractive physical attributes for a spread scheme that wants the quarterback to always be a running threat.

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