Heading into the final week of the 2018 college football season, much of the focus in Chapel Hill was around the head coaching situation and if Larry Fedora was still the man for the job on the Kenan Stadium sidelines. He entered that final week with a 6-19 record in his last 25 games, a 2019 recruiting class that ranked in the mid-50’s in the overall rankings behind former offensive coordinator Seth Littrell’s North Texas class, and was in danger of finishing his second recruiting class out of the last three without landing a quarterback. The quarterback room was a complete disaster, with both Nathan Elliott and Chazz Surratt faltering, leaving true freshmen Cade Fortin and Jace Ruder to be thrown to the fire for an offense that was struggling due to a limited playbook.
Now, just six months later, the Tar Heels have arguably the top quarterback room in the ACC behind Clemson for the 2020 season. That thinking was reinforced on Monday afternoon when the Heels add their second quarterback commitment to the 2020 class in the form of 4✮ DUAL Jacolby Criswell. Criswell, an Elite 11-bound quarterback from Morrilton, AR, enters his junior season having already thrown for over 3,000 yards in his prep career, while also running for over 1,000 yards in two varsity seasons. Criswell gives off strong Vince Young vibes with his strong arm, on-the-move accuracy and good touch on deep throws.
Criswell joins fellow 4✮ DUAL Malik Hornsby as quarterbacks committed to the 2020 class. Combine that with the fact that all three of the quarterbacks that were a part of the team in the spring are eligible to return next season and you can see why there is an argument to be made for the Heels when it comes to the top quarterback rooms in the ACC.
Many are asking the question of why, though. Why a second quarterback in this 2020 class? As of right now, the Heels are scheduled to take the field with five scholarship quarterbacks for the 2020 season, four of which would be former 4✮ prospects. So why the need for this amount of talent at the position?
First of all, why not? The best thing that any major college football program can do is inherit talent that can create competition. Having competition is healthy, something that Mack Brown and his staff stressed during spring camp and that any program looking to get where it seems Brown wants to take the Heels to needs.
The landscape of college football recruiting has changed a lot, primarily this offseason. The introduction of the transfer portal has been one of the major talking points among college football journalists and fans alike, especially at the quarterback position, that has seen major schools like Ohio State lose plenty of depth due to it’s emerge. With the portal in place, a strategy like the one that Brown and the Heels staff is currently employing is a smart one to ensure that a situation like the one that helped to sink the Fedora staff doesn't happen again.
So in conclusion, is there a chance that one of the scheduled five 2020 Tar Heel quarterbacks decides to enter their name in the transfer portal at some point? There definitely is. Should this staff be criticized for creating competition at the most important position in the game as they try to save a sliding football program? No.