SBLive California is previewing the top football teams and players in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 high school football season. Even with the season in doubt, we will continue to highlight the best teams, players and coaches in California.
After rolling out our section-by-section quarterback rankings we now turn our attention to the best high school quarterbacks in the state of California.
The main criteria for our Top 50 quarterback rankings are statistics from the 2019 high school season relative to team success (on offense) and strength of schedule. The rankings were compiled by SBLive reporters Bodie DeSilva, Lance Smith and Connor Morrissette.
Since this is not a recruiting ranking, players’ national rankings or college offers were not primary criteria, but were taken into account – mainly for players who haven’t received a full opportunity to shine at the varsity level yet. Performances in club football or at camps were not taken into consideration.
Class of 2021 QBs who have decided to graduate and enroll early in college were not considered in these rankings.
TOP 50 QUARTERBACKS IN CALIFORNIA
50. AJ Cleveland – Bakersfield Highland – Senior
Cleveland had an excellent junior campaign, throwing 28 touchdown passes to only three interceptions as he led the Scots to an undefeated Southeast Yosemite League title. Cleveland and a solid returning crew have their sights set on a second straight league title.
49. Tyler Kaschewski – Templeton – Senior
Kaschewski was efficient through the air last season finishing with 11 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions but he truly made his mark on the ground. He ran for over 1,900 yards, averaging over 11 yards per carry, and finished with 31 touchdowns while leading the Eagles to a first-place finish in the Ocean League.
48. Hudson Beers – Justin-Siena – Senior
In terms of passing yardage, Beers is the top returning QB in the North Coast Section. Last season he completed over 60% of his passes for 2,942 yards and 30 touchdowns, finishing with a passer rating of 111.1. He’s already been offered at the college level and is likely to rack up more offers if he has a senior season.
47. Seth Miguel – Hilmar – Senior
As a junior, Miguel completed 110 of 184 passes for 1,946 yards, 28 TDs and five interceptions. He also rushed 77 times for 511 yards and two touchdowns. Led by Miguel, Hilmar advanced all the way to the Division 6 Sac-Joaquin Section championship where they fell to eventual champion Escalon 41-27.
46. Luke Carrel – Davis – Senior
Carrel is a UC Davis baseball commit. Last season, he completed 79 of 156 passes for 1,692 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. Led by Carrel, Davis made the Division 1 quarterfinals in the Sac-Joaquin Section a year ago losing to Inderkum 43-21.
45. Jakob Harris – Oceanside – Senior
Harris threw for 19 touchdowns and nearly 2,500 yards as he led the Pirates to a CIF Championship in San Diego and into the CIF State playoffs.
“The biggest part is he’s grown mentally and emotionally which is exciting from the quarterback position,” Oceanside Head Coach David Rodriguez said about his quarterback.
44. Jordan Reed – Central – Senior
The 6-foot-6 Reed tossed 27 touchdown passes last season for Imperial. He’ll play his senior year at Central in San Diego.
43. Jackson Stratton – La Jolla – Junior
In his first season as the starter, Stratton’s play improved as the season went along, culminating in a CIF Division 3 Championship in San Diego over previously unbeaten Scripps Ranch. His first offer has arrived from Columbia.
42. Dartanyon Moussiaux – Capistrano Valley – Senior
As a junior in 2019, Moussiaux threw for 2,139 yards and 20 touchdowns despite Capo’s particularly brutal schedule. With a 3-star rating from 247Sports, he’s one of the Southern Section’s top quarterbacks without a D-1 offer (although he has received several D-2 offers). He is on Power-5 radars though, and has the upside that comes with a 6-foot-5 frame, so his stock is likely to rise significantly if he has a senior season.
41. Jack Clougherty – Muir – Senior
Now a Muir Mustang, Clougherty threw for 2,300 yards and 30 touchdowns last season in 11 games at St. Francis, good for a healthy passer rating of 109.9. He’s already a 3-star prospect with a few D-1 offers, but don’t be surprised if he breaks out quite a bit more with a senior season at Muir.
40. Dylan Wheatley – Citrus Valley – Senior
Wheatley had one of the most prolific 2019 seasons of returning QBs in the Southern Section. He threw for 3,132 yards and 47 touchdowns to lead the Blackhawks to a 10-2 record. Citrus Valley projects to be formidable again if this season is played, and Wheatley will likely prove to be overdue for his first D-1 offer – he’s already up to eight offers at other levels.
39. Richard Colmenero III – St. Augustine – Senior
Colmenero passed for 24 touchdowns during his sophomore season at Eastlake (Chula Vista) before transferring to St. Augustine last season. He split time as the Saints quarterback last year, throwing 15 touchdowns, and is poised for a big senior season as the established starter.
38. Forrest Brock – Palisades – Senior
Brock completed 129 of 212 passes for 1,737 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. Brock led Palisades to a Western League title and an Open Division playoff berth in the LA City Section.
37. Ethan Grady – St. Monica Catholic – Senior
Grady only played in eight games as a junior, but he managed to throw for 2,266 yards and 21 touchdowns. That was good for 283.3 passing yards per game, one of the best marks in the Southern Section, and he also completed over 70% of his passes, good for a 126.8 passer rating. Grady, a 3-star recruit, is committed to Bucknell.
36. Katin Houser – St. John Bosco – Junior
An exception on this list, Houser only has a handful of reps at the varsity level but is ranked as the 19th best pro-style QB in the Class of 2022 by 247Sports. Last season he played behind three upperclassmen at Liberty, the top-ranked team in Nevada, but did complete seven of 11 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown on the season.
Houser is a high 3-star prospect with at least seven offers already, including Pac-12, so if anything he’s likely to rise — especially in a quarterback’s dream situation at St. John Bosco.
35. Justyn Martin – Inglewood – Junior
Last season, Inglewood had one of the most statistically impressive attacks in the country, and now it will have a new centerpiece – Justyn Martin, a transfer from Gardena Serra. As a sophomore, he only got on the field for a couple of games for a Cavaliers squad going up against Mission League foes, but he still completed 63.7% of his passes.
Now a Sentinel, expect a breakout junior campaign from Martin, a 4-star recruit with 11 offers coming mostly from high-majors.
34. Brayden Zermeno – Loyola – Senior
A 3-star prospect with prototypical 6-4, 225-pound size, Zermeno committed to Princeton over at least 10 other schools to offer him, including Maryland and more than half the Ivy League. While listed as a pro-style QB, Zermeno proved to be a rushing threat for run-first Loyola, running for 323 yards and two TDs to go with 1,633 yards and eight TDs passing.
Zermeno’s strong play down the stretch was a big part of Loyola’s late-season improvement and cinderella run to the Division 4 title game in the Southern Section. Even still, his numbers don’t display his full impact as a multifaceted talent under center, and his production – along with Loyola’s resurgent program – is sure to keep rising if there’s a season.
33. Jake Kern – Clayton Valley Charter – Senior
With a 2019 state championship under his belt, Kern is one of numerous nationally-ranked talents on this list overdue for a D-I offer. The 2-star prospect threw for 1,685 yards and 12 touchdowns for the run-first Ugly Eagles last season, who went 10-5 to win a Division 2 North Coast Section title and a CIF 2-AA state title – their first ever. He also ran for six touchdowns, and had only two interceptions all season, which is a remarkable feat.
Clayton Valley Charter returns the majority of its offensive stars this season. Kern only attempted 190 passes last season, and could lead another winning season – with potentially flashier numbers – if they have games to play.
32. Sam Whitney – Mira Costa – Senior
Arguably the best pro-style QB in the Southern Section without a D-1 offer, Whitney threw for 2,978 yards and 30 touchdowns last season on his way to winning Bay League Offensive Player of the Year. The 3-star prospect does have lower-division offers and has gotten interest from D-1 programs including multiple Ivy League schools.
Per Recruiting News Guru, Whitney has recently reclassified to the Class of 2022 from the C/O 2021 (and is eligible for both classes), and plans to play a post-grad year in Connecticut for the 2021-2022 season. Before that, he will show off his huge arm for another campaign at Mira Costa if the upcoming season transpires.
31. Malachi Nelson – Los Alamitos – Sophomore
Nelson is a 4-star recruit with 20 offers already, ranked by 247Sports as the second best pro-style QB prospect in the Class of 2023. He had a challenging freshman campaign in which he split snaps with a senior against Los Al’s very difficult schedule, but still threw for 883 yards while rushing for 109 more.
Already standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 180 pounds, with athleticism and a strong arm, the sky is the limit for Nelson and the Griffins’ young, talented core.
30. Jaden Jones – Westlake – Senior
Last season at Oxnard, Jones had one of the most efficient seasons you’ll ever see at the high school level. Going against numerous outstanding defenses/secondaries, Jones threw for 1,924 yards and 22 touchdowns to only two picks. Throw in a steep 17.8 yards per completion, and he finished the season with a jaw-dropping passer rating of 148.6 – the highest in the Southern Section among starting QBs. Jones also ran for 230 yards and six scores.
For his strong work, Jones received an offer from Montana and interest from roughly 20 high majors, plus a 3-star rating. Now a Westlake Warrior, his recruitment will likely make another jump if he has a senior season.
29. Hudson Jones – San Juan Hills – Senior
Jones is one of the most accomplished and under-recruited quarterbacks in Southern California heading into 2020-21. As a junior, he threw for 2,599 yards and 33 touchdowns to help lead San Juan Hills to a Division 4 Southern Section Championship. He also had only five picks and a tremendous 129.2 passer rating.
247Sports reports no national ranking or D-1 offers yet for Jones, despite his consistent production and winning pedigree. Another big year for the dangerous Stallions should land him some overdue offers.
28. Colt Fulton – Santa Margarita – Senior
Fulton is a 3-star prospect with at least four D-1 offers, but he’ll be one of the top breakout QBs in SoCal if this season is able to be played.
Last season he threw for 1,361 yards in 10 games for a young SM squad that played a brutally difficult schedule, but this year he could be at the helm of a breakout season for the Eagles with a nice stat line to show for it. He ended the season with by far his best game yet, throwing for 274 yards and two touchdowns in a competitive effort against eventual Division 2 Southern Section champion and CIF Division 1-AA state finalist Sierra Canyon.
27. Mikey Zele – Grace Brethren – Senior
Before even beginning his senior season, Zele has one of the most accomplished resumé’s of any quarterback in the state. Nobody else in SoCal can claim 5,571 passing yards, 51 passing touchdowns, 1,252 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, two section championships, and a state championship to their name.
And the nationally-ranked D-1 recruit is sure to keep adding to it if he has a senior campaign. Zele just had his best passing season yet with career-highs of 1,998 passing yards and a 111.4 passer rating. A true dual-threat, he’s a blur outside the pocket and can evade tackles as well as anybody.
“Mikey’s put on a lot of weight since last year. He’s got more victories than probably any quarterback in the state. He’s a true winner,” said Grace Brethren coach Josh Henderson. “I think he’s one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the state. I really want him to be able to play his senior year because people have only seen glimpses of his athletic potential, but they have seen his warrior spirit, courage and play-making ability. We’re really excited about Mikey.”
26. Matthew Geeting – Chino Hills – Senior
Geeting threw for 2,524 yards and 27 touchdowns in 12 games last season for an underrated Chino Hills squad that played a particularly difficult schedule. At 6-foot-5 with a strong frame, he has the ability to stay in the pocket and fire off a strong pass under duress. He recently decommitted from Middle Tennessee State.
25. Brady Huchingson – Acalanes – Senior
Huchingson, a 2-star prospect, threw for 2,646 yards and 29 touchdowns last season for the 9-3 Dons. He also completed 63.2% of his passes and only had five picks, good for an impressive passer rating of 128.3. Huchingson ran for seven touchdowns as well.
24. Hector Nava Jr. – Porterville – Senior
Despite his small stature (5-foot-8, 160 pounds) Nava has posted ridiculous numbers over the past two seasons for Porterville. Entering his senior season, he’s already accounted for over 6,300 yards and 54 passing touchdowns. He also has over 1,200 career rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.
23. Sam Vaulton – Venice – Senior
Vaulton transferred to Venice from Alcoa High School in Tennessee last spring. As a junior at Alcoa, Vaulton completed 84 of 125 passes for 1,435 yards, 21 touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
Vaulton was selected to the all-region team following his junior season, per the Knoxville News Sentinel. Vaulton received an offer from Ole Miss last January.
22. Luke Durkin – Scripps Ranch – Senior
Durkin led a high-powered Scripps Ranch offense to a 12-0 start last season before falling to La Jolla in the Division 3 championship game. He tossed 20 touchdowns and added six more scores on the ground. He signed with Davidson in December.
21. Eli Brickhandler – Pittsburg – Senior
Brickhandler threw for 2,259 yards and rushed for 743 more as a junior at Whitney, making him one of the only returning quarterbacks in Northern California to surpass 3,000 yards of offense in 2019. He also had 18 touchdowns passing and eight more rushing while leading the Wildcats, who play a very challenging schedule, to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game.
Now a Pirate, Brickhandler is in great position to put himself on D-I radars if there is a season. 247Sports lists him a 2-star prospect with multiple college offers, but none at the Division 1 level. This season he’ll hopefully have the opportunity to run the show for a talented Pittsburg team with big expectations.
20. Beau Green – Turlock – Junior
Green missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, but impressed enough in a five-game stretch his freshman season to earn an offer from Auburn’s old coaching staff. As a freshman at Downey he completed 65 of 105 passes for 1,021 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Green did not play last season due to the shoulder injury, and he had briefly enrolled at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif. to play this season, but he’s now back at Turlock.
19. Cooper Meek – Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) – Senior
Meek missed essentially his entire 2019 season due to injury, and the 3-star prospect is more than ready for a big senior campaign. As a sophomore in 2018, he threw for 1,570 yards and 14 touchdowns on 64% completion with only two picks. A major dual-threat, he also ran for 620 yards and 11 TDs that season.
While he’s received college offers, 247Sports reports no D-1 offers yet for Meek as a result of his injury. But he’s a clear D-1 talent and a leader for the Knights who’s sure to explode if his senior season isn’t lost.
“Cooper is a team leader and one of our best players,” said Notre Dame coach Joe McNab. “He’s a really good kid. He’s super smart.”
18. Donovan Smith – Damien – Senior
Now a Damien Spartan, Smith put up career-highs across the board in 11 games at Los Osos last season – 2,517 passing yards, 19 passing touchdowns, a healthy 63.7% completion percentage, 97 rushing yards, and five rushing touchdowns.
The 3-star prospect currently holds at least two offers (Cal and Boston College), but remains unsigned. Having received plenty of high-major interest, Smith will likely benefit tremendously if he plays a senior season for a reloaded Damien squad.
17. DJ Stevenson – Central – Senior
Stevenson led Buchanan to a 10-3 record last season and a trip into the Central Section Championship game. He’ll play his senior season for Central High School and will have Michigan-signee Xavier Worthy as a top target. Offers have come in from Eastern New Mexico and Northern Arizona.
“I think in our offense he’s gonna be magical. He can run it, he can throw it, he’s really learning and picking up our concepts. He’s been real receptive and I think he’s gonna be phenomenal,” Central Head Coach Kyle Biggs told SBLive earlier this month.
16. Justus McComb – Granite Hills – Senior
McComb carried the Eagles’ offense during his junior season. He passed for 2,691 yards and 24 touchdowns, while also leading Granite Hills in rushing with 494 yards and seven touchdowns. He is committed to Southwest Minnesota State.
15. Anthony Grigsby Jr. – Cosumnes Oaks – Senior
Grigsby completed 197 of 334 passes for 2,713 yards, 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2019, which makes him the best statistical QB returning in the Sac-Joaquin Section. He also rushed for 360 yards and three touchdowns.
14. Jayden Denegal – Apple Valley – Junior
One of the Southern Section’s top breakout players of 2019, Denegal came into his sophomore year with no varsity experience and finished as a 4-star recruit. In 11 games, he threw for 2,260 yards and 34 touchdowns. He attempted fewer than 200 passes on the season because the 9-2 Sun Devils had most of their games sealed up by halftime, but put up a very lofty passer rating of 127.6.
Now up to 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, and still growing, Denegal has at least nine offers, primarily from Power-5 schools. Auburn and Georgia were the first to offer, and 247Sports predicts Michigan State as the favorite.
13. CJ Montes – Paraclete – Senior
In 2019, Montes threw for 2,200 yards and 19 touchdowns for a very underrated Spirits team that may have gone far in the Southern Section Division 3 playoffs had it not drawn Alemany in the first round. A 3-star prospect with several offers, Montes recently signed with New Mexico.
Paraclete head coach Dean Herrington said that Montes is significantly bigger, stronger, and better than ever as a senior. The Spirits’ last two games in 2019 were near-upsets of eventual Division 2 champion Sierra Canyon and Alemany, and Montes and Paraclete look to make even more noise this season if there is one.
12. Cole Lourd – Brentwood School – Senior
A 3-star recruit with an eye-popping 17 offers, Lourd threw for 2,833 yards and 32 touchdowns to only seven interceptions as a junior. That was good for a healthy 113.1 passer rating. And while Lourd is known as a pro-style QB, he improves as a rushing threat each year, running for 213 yards and six touchdowns in 2019.
Lourd still remains uncommitted, making him arguably the top available quarterback in the Southern Section in the C/O 2021. His laundry list of offers includes Ivy League schools and mid-major powers, but he’s also received interest from numerous Power-5 programs, so his recruitment is one to watch heading into his senior season.
11. Walker Eget – West Ranch – Senior
In his first season as West Ranch’s starting QB, Eget led a slept-on Wildcats squad to the Division 7 Southern Section semifinals with 3,250 yards and 40 touchdowns in the air. He was rewarded with a 3-star ranking and a handful of D-1 offers before deciding on San Jose State. If there’s a 2020-21 season, expect another prolific passing attack from a strong West Ranch team with Eget running the show.
10. Kajiya Hollawayne – San Jacinto – Senior
Long considered one of California’s top dual-threat QBs in the Class of 2021, Hollawayne signed with UCLA out of at least 10 offers, including numerous Power-5 schools. Coming into his senior season, he already has 6,780 passing yards, 64 passing touchdowns, 1,871 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns in his high school career.
In 2019 as a junior, Hollawayne’s passing yardage dropped from 225 yards per game to 179.2, but his efficiency was at an all-time high, as was his rushing production (932 yards, 13 TDs). And he once again led San Jacinto on a deep playoff run, as the Tigers made the Division 6 Southern section semifinals. In his last run at the high school level, he has a chance to be one of the most prolific dual-threat playmakers in SoCal for an under-the-radar Inland Empire team.
9. Brandon Rose – Murrieta Valley – Junior
Rose is the Southern Section’s only returner in the Class of 2022 to throw for over 3,000 yards last season. His total line in 11 games was 3,087 yards and 30 touchdowns passing and 395 yards and six touchdowns on the ground
Now Rose is a high 3-star prospect with at least six offers, coming mostly from high-majors. He has interest from several more Power-5 schools with two seasons left of high school ball. He is one of the most exciting QBs in SoCal to watch, as he possesses the big-game gene.
8. Bryce Weiner – Bullard – Senior
Weiner was off to a fast start for the Knights in 2019, throwing 11 touchdowns before his season was cut short after five games.
“Weiner’s got very good arm strength,” said head coach Don Arax. “He is a very good athlete, baseball and football guy. He can run well. He has worked extensively in the offseason to shorten his delivery. We’re going to try to get back to getting vertical and throwing the ball, taking shots deep since he’s got the arm strength for it.”
Weiner signed with Cal Poly in December.
7. Aidan Sayin – Carlsbad – Senior
Sayin passed for over 2,300 yards and had 24 touchdowns last season as he led the Lancers to an undefeated Avocado League Championship and an appearance in the San Diego Open Division Championship game. Sayin committed to the University of Pennsylvania in September.
6. Deacon Hill – Santa Barbara – Senior
In his stellar 2019 campaign, Hill displayed a blend of production, winning pedigree, and upside that put him in pretty rare air for a junior quarterback. He threw for 3,102 yards and 33 touchdowns to only seven picks as he led Santa Barbara on an underdog run to the Division 8 finals. But despite his prototypical 6-foot-4, 225-pound size for a signal-caller, Hill is a legitimate dual-threat, running for 461 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
For his efforts, 247Sports upgraded his ranking to 4-star status. And Wisconsin is sitting pretty, having had Hill on board since June of 2019, before he even broke out at the varsity level. The Badgers’ future QB1 will have another chance to add to his high school resumé if the 2020-21 season is played.
5. Maalik Murphy – Gardena Serra – Junior
While Murphy hasn’t fully shown what he can do at the varsity level yet, the 5-star prospect is one of the most talented junior quarterbacks on the West Coast. He has nearly 30 offers already, and could compete for the top spot in the Southern Section with a full, healthy junior season.
As a sophomore, he dealt with injuries and was behind now-UNLV Rebel Doug Brumfield on the depth chart. He threw for 305 yards in limited reps against elite competition, but never got into a rhythm. Expect him to break out in a huge way in terms of production in 2021.
“He’s smart and poised,” Serra head coach Scott Altenberg told SBLive. “He’s got every tool in the book and he’s a great kid … He’s going to be great.”
4. Zevi Eckhaus – Culver City – Senior
Entering the 2020-21 season, Eckhaus already has a statistical resumé that might not be matched in California. In fact, it might not be topped anywhere.
His 4,456 passing yards was good for 12th in the country last season – fourth among non-seniors, and third among juniors. And of that top 12, his passer rating of 142.9 was the second highest, and his 70.9% completion percentage was the third highest. Even more impressive, his 59 passing touchdowns was tied for sixth in the country, and no non-seniors had more. That makes Eckhaus the only returning player in the country who threw for 4,456 yards and 59 touchdowns in 2019.
3. Jaylen Henderson – Chaminade – Senior
Coming into his senior season, Henderson’s combination of aerial production, rushing production and playoff success is unmatched in the Southern Section.
The high 3-star Fresno State commit led Chaminade to a Division 2 finals appearance with 2,664 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns to go with 767 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He completed over 60% of his passes too, and his 6.9 yards per carry is remarkable for a quarterback playing against the high level of competition on the Eagles’ schedule.
Henderson is an eye-opening athlete who stands nearly 6-foot-4, making him a physical specimen for which the sky is the limit. It’s not a shock that he finished with at least 28 offers before committing to Fresno State.
This season, Henderson will again have the chance to lead ‘Nade on a deep playoff run and contention for a Mission League title.
2. Dorian Hale – De La Salle – Senior
Before even starting his senior season, the 3-star Sacramento State commit is one of the more accomplished quarterbacks in the state. Hale has been on three NCS Division I championship/CIF Open Division state finalist teams, and was the starting signal-caller on two of them.
Last season as a junior, Hale had 2,047 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns and three interceptions, good for a strong 118.6 passer rating. He also had 588 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. In 2018, when the Spartans played more through their running backs, Hale threw for 1,215 yards on under 100 pass attempts, good for an outstanding passer rating of 133.7. If there’s a 2020-21 season, he’ll be ready to take on a bigger workload than ever for NorCal’s incumbent top dog.
1. Noah Fifita – Servite – Junior
Last season as a sophomore, Fifita threw for 2,892 yards and 37 touchdowns to only four picks in 11 games. That was good for a passer rating of over 125 coming against one of the harder schedules in the country.
In his first season as a varsity starter, he proved to be as skilled a passer and decision maker as they come even as an underclassman. As Servite continues to rise, Fifita has a chance to make a bigger and bigger name for himself, and has both the talent and situation to potentially compete for All-American caliber honors.
Entering his junior season, Fifita is now ranked as a high 3-star recruit, and is up to at least five offers – Cal, Fresno State, Idaho State, New Mexico and Hawaii. He doesn’t put up significant rushing production, but is considered a dual-threat prospect for his ability to leave the pocket and still connect with receivers far downfield.
The Friars were already great in 2019, and will likely take another step forward. Fifita will anchor one of the most dangerous passing games in the country alongside 5-star WR Tetairoa McMillan and 4-star TE Keyan Burnett – not just in 2020-21 but in 2021-22 as well.