Two ACC teams, Boston College and Clemson, are in the early running for 2016 dual-threat quarterback Brandon McIlwain.
The rising junior has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in two years as the starting quarterback at Council Rock North in Newton, Pa. He’s also run for more than 1,000 yards with 21 additional rushing touchdowns.
Though it’s still early in his recruitment, McIlwain already has offers from Penn State, Auburn, Florida and Ohio State.
Sources say early playing time is high on McIlwain’s priority list. In this case, Boston College sets itself up better than Clemson to land McIlwain’s services. The Eagles didn’t take a blockbuster quarterback in either the 2013 or 2014 class. Darius Wade, who signed in the 2014 class and enrolled early, does have solid potential, but McIlwain projects as a better prospect. Boston College doesn’t currently have a 2015 quarterback commitment.
Clemson will be loaded with quarterback talent by the time McIlwain would reach campus. The Tigers took four-star quarterback Deshaun Watson in the 2014 class, and three-star Tucker Israel is already on board in the 2015 class.
Barton Simmons, a national recruiting analyst with 247Sports, says McIlwain’s potential is sky high.
“McIlwain is a special player. You turn on the film, and it’s pretty clear that he’s got some real intangibles at the quarterback position and is a difference maker,” Simmons said. “He’s got a big arm and poise in the pocket, but he sets himself apart when he improvises and creates big plays out of negatives.”
Simmons said that McIlwain’s slight frame at 6-1, 205 pounds is something that would traditionally knock him down the quarterback rankings, but the success of recent prospects such as Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel means more teams are willing to value McIlwain highly.
While Boston College runs a pro-style offense, Simmons thinks McIlwain would flourish in an offense more similar to Clemson’s spread.
“I think McIlwain would really thrive in an up-tempo, read-option type of offense that allows him to showcase that ability to make plays with his feet,” Simmons said.
McIlwain is still young, but it’s becoming clear that he could be a program-changing prospect. Penn State is the early favorite to land his services, but Boston College and Clemson are among the ACC schools who stand a good chance.
Check out some of his highlights from this past season: