After the greatest season ever by a freshman quarterback at Carolina, it comes as no surprise that Sam Howell finds himself on the watch list for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, given to the perceived best QB in the nation.
Howell beat out two more experienced players (Cade Fortin and Jace Ruder) to win the starting job as a true freshman last year. Although the coaching staff wanted to give it a few games before sticking with one guy, it became pretty immediately clear that Howell was the dude. He went on to throw for 3,641 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions while leading the Tar Heels to their first winning season in three years.
Those 38 touchdowns were both an FBS true freshman record and a UNC school record. He managed to throw multiple touchdowns in all thirteen games, and his 3,641 passing yards ranked 14th in the country. Naturally, these lofty statistics netted Howell some prestigious accolades such as ACC Offensive and Overall Rookie of the Year, All-ACC third team, and FWAA Freshman All-America.
Excitement has been building around the Carolina Football Program ever since Mack Brown reclaimed the job, and expectations are very high for both Howell and the team this season. The Heels are a popular pick to win the always-chaotic Coastal division and it all starts with their sophomore quarterback. Given that Carolina returns ten of its starters on offense, if Howell can make the jump that many are predicting him to make, this could be one of the best offenses in the country.
Howell is joined on this watch list by 29 other talented returning Division I quarterbacks. He finds himself in good company as notable players such as Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) were also named.
Below is the entire list of nominees for the 2020 Davey O’Brien Award Watch List:
Hank Bachmeier, Boise State, So., 6-1, 200, Murrieta, Calif.
Ian Book, Notre Dame, Sr., 6-0, 206, El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Alan Bowman, Texas Tech, So., 6-3, 210, Grapevine, Texas
Charlie Brewer, Baylor, Sr., 6-1, 206, Austin, Texas
Shane Buechele, SMU, Sr., 6-1, 207, Arlington, Texas
Jack Coan, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-3, 221, Sayville, N.Y.
Sean Clifford, Penn State, Jr., 6-2, 219, Cincinnati, Ohio
Dustin Crum, Kent State, Sr., 6-3, 201, Grafton, Ohio
Micale Cunningham, Louisville, Jr., 6-1, 200, Montgomery, Ala.
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State, So., 6-3, 175, San Bernardino, Calif.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas, Sr., 6-3, 230, Austin, Texas
Justin Fields, Ohio State, Jr., 6-3, 228, Kennesaw, Ga.
Dillon Gabriel, UCF, So., 6-0, 186, Mililani, Hawaii
Donald Hammond III, Air Force, Sr., 6-2, 220, Hampton, Ga.
Sam Howell, North Carolina, So., 6-1 1/4, 225, Indian Trail, N.C.
Mac Jones, Alabama, Jr., 6-2, 205, Jacksonville, Fla.
D’Eriq King, Miami, Sr., 5-11, 195, Manvel, Texas
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, Jr., 6-6, 220, Cartersville, Ga.
Levi Lewis, Louisiana, Sr., 5-10, 190, Baton Rouge, La.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M, Sr., 6-3, 217, San Antonio, Texas
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota, Jr., 6-2, 215, Union, Ky.
Jamie Newman, Georgia, Sr., 6-4, 230, Graham, N.C.
Bo Nix, Auburn, So., 6-2, 207, Pinson, Ala.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Jr., 6-1, 212, Gilbert, Ariz.
Chris Robison, Florida Atlantic, Jr., 6-1, 200, Mesquite, Texas
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, So., 6-1, 199, Denton, Texas
Kedon Slovis, USC, So., 6-2, 200, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State, Sr., 6-1, 210, Trussville, Ala.
Kyle Trask, Florida, Sr., 6-5, 239, Manvel, Texas
Brady White, Memphis, Sr., 6-3, 215, Santa Clarita, Calif.