Howell, Wilson, Jones Give Triangle Flavor
To ACC’s Impressive NFL Quarterback Mix
(ACC, SEC Members Produced 50% Of 2023 NFL Starting QBs)

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

Last Sunday in the National Football League, former North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell led the Washington Commanders to a thrilling, come-from-behind 35-33 victory over former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos.

Howell, who connected on 27 of 39 passing attempts for 299 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL road start, inspired the Commanders’ resurgence from a 21-3 first-half deficit. In the history of a Washington franchise whose roots date to 1932, only a 21-point comeback victory in 1990 was bigger.

“I thought (Howell) was pretty resilient,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “He started doing it later, throwing the ball away, started sliding, so he is learning. I think he is going to get (even) better. I do.”

Wilson, who connected on 18 of 32 passing attempts for 308 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, also ran six times for a team-high 56 yards and connected on a shocking 50-yard Hail Mary pass on the final play of regulation. (The Broncos then failed to convert their two-point attempt.) Denver’s 18-point blown lead tied the fourth-largest such collapse at home in franchise history.

On the same afternoon, former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones rallied the New York Giants from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit to stun the Arizona Cardinals 31-28. It was the Giants’ biggest comeback win since a 21-point rally in 1949, and it was the Cardinals’ worst blown lead since 2011.

Howell, Wilson and Jones combine with four other Atlantic Coast Conference products — Lamar Jackson (Ravens), Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars), Kenny Pickett (Steelers) and Deshaun Watson (Browns) — to give the ACC the second-most starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season (seven), behind only the SEC (nine).

Put differently, current ACC and SEC schools produced a whopping half — 16 of 32 — of the current starting NFL quarterbacks. One QB included in that SEC number, former Texas A&M star Ryan Tannehill (Titans), actually played in the Big 12, before the Aggies jumped to the SEC.

In fact, based on where these players spent the majority of their college careers, the ACC and the SEC are the only college conferences that have six different schools represented in the NFL’s current starting quarterback ranks.

The ACC schools are Clemson (Lawrence, Watson), Duke (Jones), Louisville (Jackson), UNC (Howell), NC State (Wilson) and Pittsburgh (Pickett). The SEC schools are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. For the complete list of NFL starting quarterbacks and their main college affiliations, please see below.

The NFL’s 32 depth charts also have six products of current ACC schools as second-string quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) of the Lions, Jacoby Brissett (NC State) of the Commanders, Nathan Peterman (Pitt) of the Bears, Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) of the Giants, Mitch Trubisky (UNC) of the Steelers, and Jameis Winston (Florida State) of the Saints. All but Bridgewater, who represented the Cardinals in both the Big East (2011-12) and the American Athletic Conference (2013), played in the ACC.

In addition, Broncos backup QB Jarrett Stidham was mentored at Auburn by Chip Lindsey, who is now Drake Maye’s offensive coordinator at UNC.

Collectively, current ACC schools have almost 300 of their former players on NFL rosters, practice squads and injured/reserve lists.

2023 NFL Starting Quarterbacks
(Where They Played In College)

# — Russell Wilson played the majority of his college career at NC State
^ — Ryan Tannehill played for the Aggies before they left the Big 12 for the SEC
* — Desmond Ridder played for the Bearcats before they left the AAC for the Big 12

2023 NFL Starting Quarterbacks
(Complete List Before Injuries)

% — regular starting QB; currently injured

David Glenn ( is an award-winning author, broadcaster, editor, entrepreneur, publisher, speaker, writer and university lecturer (now at UNC Wilmington) who has covered sports in North Carolina since 1987. does not charge subscription fees, and you can directly support our efforts in local journalism here. Want more of what you see on Chapelboro? Let us bring free local news and community information to you by signing up for our biweekly newsletter.