College Football: Which 5-star freshman QB will start in 2023?

Quarterback Arch Manning (16) throws a pass as Newman takes on Lafayette Christian Academy in the LHSAA Division III semifinals on Nov. 24, 2021.Arch ManningSyndication The Daily Advertiser
Quarterback Arch Manning (16) throws a pass as Newman takes on Lafayette Christian Academy in the LHSAA Division III semifinals on Nov. 24, 2021.Arch ManningSyndication The Daily Advertiser /

There were five quarterbacks ranked as five stars in the 2023 college football recruiting class and we look at who will start next season. 

Springtime in college football is a time of optimism. There is also a lot of time spent talking about quarterbacks and that’s no different this spring.

Looking around the country, there are a number of major college football powers with quarterback competitions such as Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State. Plus, TCU, Clemson, Tennessee, Penn State, and others will have new starters.

Some of those teams like Penn State (Drew Allar) know who the next starting quarterback will be. Alabama, Georgia, and OSU all have former top-100 quarterbacks battling it out.

However, none of those college football programs landed a five-star quarterback in 2023. Those five schools are UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and USC.

Two of those teams will have new starters (Tennessee, UCLA) while the others have returning starters highlighted by Caleb Williams, the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner at USC.

Therefore, we can rule out five-star Malachi Nelson starting next season for the Trojans, unless, god forbid, something were to happen to Williams.

With the others, there is a chance they could start next season and we break down each team with a five-star quarterback from the 2023 class and analyze which could start in the 2023 college football season.

Arch Manning (No.1 QB in 2023)

Arch Manning is the top-ranked quarterback from the 2023 college football recruiting class but he also is playing behind the most talented returning quarterback.

Quinn Ewers hasn’t quite lived up to expectations but he’s shown flashes of greatness. Steve Sarkisian said it was an open competition, but it’s hard to see Manning getting the job, at least right away to open the season.

Ewers would need to struggle, but if the 2023 campaign goes as it did in 2022, Manning will start, and maybe not just because of injury.

Nico Iamaleava (No. 2 QB in 2023)

Nico Iamaleava is the No. 3 overall prospect in 2023 according to the 247 sports composite rankings and he’s got the chance to play his way onto the field in 2023.

Iamaleava is more of a dual threat but he’s a really talented passer too. Marcus Mariota is a common comparison. Standing in his way this season will be Joe Milton, who has struggled in previous stints as a starter but threw 10 touchdowns last season compared to zero picks.

Milton also started and won the Orange Bowl for Tennesee last season. It’s likely he gets the first shot again and if he doesn’t stumble, Iamaleava will have to wait a year.

However, Iamaleava could be an option at some point if Milton isn’t dynamic as Hendon Hoooker was last season, because Iamaleava very well could be and I expect him to start games at some point in the 2023 college football season.

Dante Moore (No.3 QB)

The fifth-ranked prospect overall showed off his arm talent in the All-American Bowl and UCLA football has a very real QB competition going on between Moore and Collin Schlee, a top-five transfer portal QB.

Schlee is more of a dual threat and probably a better fit for what Chip Kelly wants to do. Yet, when you have an elite passer it can open up the game in different ways. It’s my guess that both players start games this season.

Many think Moore will start from day one. I don’t think he will. I also don’t think he sits all season. Even if it’s just in a J.J. McCarthy-type role from 2021 for Michigan (a few possessions here or there) Moore will be on the field in 2023. He’s too talented not to.

Jackson Arnold (No. 4 QB in 2023)

For some reason, Jackson Arnold doesn’t get enough attention from college football fans or analysts, but he was the No. 4 QB in 2023 and the No. 8 overall prospect.

Dillon Gabriel is entrenched as the starter. But injuries have been an issue and it feels like at some point, Arnold will get on the field. I don’t think he will be the full-time starter until the 2024 season, but he’s the future and the Sooners will get him on the field as much as they can.

At the same time, Brent Venables needs to win now and Gabriel gives him and Oklahoma football the best chance to do that.

Next. 5 QBs poised to breakout in 2023. dark

So will any five-star quarterbacks start Week 1 of the 2023 college football season? My answer, at least right now, is no.