Projected top pick Drake Maye celebrates Sam Howell being named Washington Commanders starting QB


Who would have thought the University of North Carolina would be the next hotbed for NFL quarterbacks?

That just may be the case, as on Friday, Sam Howell was named the starting quarterback of the Washington Commanders by head coach Ron Rivera. Howell beat out veteran Jacoby Brissett in a tight competition.

Howell spent three years at UNC, operating as the starter from his freshman through junior year. He declared early following a so-so final season and was picked in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The departures of Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke paved the way for Howell to start.

A changing of the guard at UNC

The biggest reason Howell left school early: Drake Maye. The rising talent at quarterback was the backup to Howell during the latter’s final season, and Howell was very much in danger of getting usurped the following year.

While Howell developed as a rookie in Washington, Maye tore it up at North Carolina, gaining over 5,000 total yards and scoring 45 total touchdowns. He was named the 2022 ACC Player of the Year and is considered a serious Heisman contender this season.

With Howell being named the starter, Maye shouted out his former college teammate on social media.

If all goes well in 2023, Maye is expected to be a top two pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. He’s competing with USC‘s Caleb Williams, who won the 2023 Heisman Award, to be the first quarterback drafted.

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