- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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Notre Dame freshman Jimmy Clausen is perhaps the most-hyped incoming quarterback in the college ranks, but there are plenty of guys who are just as talented. A pair of fellow freshmen and three of the biggest recruits in the nation lead a group of up-and-coming passers who are poised to become the next big stars at the college level and beyond.
Aaron Corp, Orange, Calif. -- Class of 2007
Remember when Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer headed to the NFL and people wondered who Matt Leinart was? Well, USC might have stumbled onto the same Leinart-type player in Aaron Corp, who is the very definition of upside. Corp is a bit of a sleeper who needs to develop his skills and get into the weight room, but he is a better athlete than any Trojans quarterback since Rodney Peete, and he has the look of a pocket passer. As Corp blossoms, look for him to fit into the Trojans' plans in the near future and maybe be the next guy to stir the curiosity of USC fans.
Ryan Mallett, Texarkana, Ark. -- Class of 2007
All the attention seemed to focus on Jimmy Clausen during the 2006 season, but Mallett has better physical tools and showed far more upside while playing against better competition during his high school career. Mallett is a great fit for Michigan's offense, and redshirting behind Chad Henne this season year will do wonders for his development. He has prototypical NFL size and a powerful arm to stretch the field and attack the deep zones, so don't be surprised if he ends up being a three- or four-year starter for the Wolverines.
Dayne Crist, Canoga Park, Calif. -- Class of 2008
While Irish fans are clamoring for Jimmy Clausen to be the savior and propel them to national title contention, he will have to go through Crist, who has committed to Notre Dame and clearly has no fear of competition. In our opinion, Crist is a superior athlete with better size and overall physical tools; he is reminiscent of a more developed Alex Smith at this point in his career. Physically, Crist has all the makings of a great one.
Blaine Gabbert, Ballwin, Mo. -- Class of 2008
Nebraska coach Bill Callahan has finally gotten his man, and if Gabbert pans out like we think he might, Callahan won't have him in Lincoln for a full four years. Few players can compare to Gabbert's overall package: a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, good athleticism and the arm strength to make all the throws. This clearly makes him NFL material as far as measurables are concerned, and he has a knack for making plays with both his legs and his arm despite having the appearance of a pure pocket passer.
Matt Barkley, Santa Ana, Calif. -- Class of 2009
Following in the footsteps of Matt Leinart at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., Barkley will be the next great signal-caller from the West Coast. His physical tools as a passer have the USC coaches already offering early. Barkley is going to be a junior this fall, and if he matures as expected, look for him to have a stellar college career and beyond.