The year of the Transfer Quarterback

 The college football season ended less than a week ago and yet there’s already so much to look forward to next year. It’s not uncommon for a big-name quarterback to transfer, but for three, and a potential fourth, on the way, we’re in for an exciting few months ahead of us. During this time last year everyone was introduced to the name Tua Tagovailoa who ended up propelling Alabama to a National Championship. But not many people are still talking about the guy he replaced, Jalen Hurts. The 6-2 dual-threat gunslinger from Texas was given the keys to the offense heading into the 2016 season and over the course of the season Hurts put up 3,734 total yards and 36 total touchdowns. When the 2017 season started, Hurts won the QB battle over the young freshman totaling 2,936 yards and 25 TDs. All of this success for Hurts changed when he was benched coming out of halftime during the 2017 BCS National Championship. Fast forward to the beginning of this season and Tagovailoa was the one who walked with the starting job leaving Hurts with multiple options. He had the opportunity to sit out the season, saving his eligibility allowing him to play two seasons for another school. Instead Hurts decided to be a good teammate and leader by staying with the team. As the season has ended, however, we heard that Hurts would be on the move. Unlike the other two confirmed transfers I’ll talk about, this one is different because he hasn’t declared where he’ll be attending next season. My prediction on who wins the Hurts lottery is split between two teams, the Houston Cougars and the Maryland Terrapins. Houston may seem strange to many fans as it’s not known as a major football school but, there are multiple perks for Jalen Hurts. With Hurts being from Texas, playing for Houston gives his family the opportunity to watch him throw touchdowns every Saturday. The perk that might be most appealing to Hurts is their depth at quarterback which is practically none, besides upcoming sophomore Clayton True who struggled in his opportunity this year. This would give Hurts the opportunity to start right away on day one. Maryland the other option also has its perks, although their depth at quarterback is rather deep with four freshman, two sophomores and a junior. None of them have the experience Hurts has already in his career. The second perk being the conference in which they play in, the competition of the Big Ten may be something Hurts is looking for after dominating in the SEC he may be looking to see if he can do the same here. Wherever Hurts land I’ll be excited to see if he can bounce back after not starting this season, I’m not a huge fan of the Crimson Tide but I’m pulling for him on this one.

                 Kelly Bryant, a 6-4 dual threat QB from South Carolina, recently announced that he’ll be attending the University of Missouri after sitting out this season. Bryant decided to sit out this season after losing his starting job to freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence. During his one year as a starter, Bryant passed for 2800 yards and 13 TDs, while also chipping in 655 yards and 11 TDs on the ground. When he announced his decision to transfer, there were many different schools thrown into the conversation. He eventually decided upon Missouri, with their QB room opening up with the exit of Drew Lock who’s entering this year’s draft. Bryant will look to use his experience and dual-threat qualities to take over the helm and make the Tigers a force in the SEC. Bryant is transferring in hopes of improving his draft stock which wasn’t very high after just one season as a starter before being benched for the true freshman. I believe that although he’ll make himself at home next season, there are multiple schools that would be a better fit for Bryant. Missouri isn’t a team that is known for their quarterbacks to take off running, although Lock chipped in 6 TDs on the ground for the Tigers but primarily in goal line formation. My perfect fit for Kelly Bryant would’ve been UCLA out of the Pac-12, with two underclassmen QBs Bryant wouldn’t have to battle for the starting gig. Head coach Chip Kelly is known for his run, pass, option playbook and with his wheels and experience he could’ve made that offense his own.

               Justin Fields, most likely the most talked about transfer going into next season. The speedy, strong-arm freshman made the most of his limited snaps this year backing up Jake Fromm for the Georgia Bulldogs. In 39 attempts he was able throw for 328 yards 4 TDs and 0 INTs, while also adding 266 yards and 4 TDs running. After the season, Fields made the announcement everyone expected, he made his announcement that he would be leaving the Bulldogs. Fields decided upon Ohio State a legitimate powerhouse every year. As a fan of Ohio State, I have mixed emotions about this decision, although he’ll be an instant factor, I wish he would’ve chosen a different school. I know that sounds crazy not wanting a potential Heisman winner on my squad but I believe we already have a Heisman winner on the team and now he’s on the verge of leaving. Tate Martell a redshirt freshman has had the opportunity to watch multiple QBs run the offence and now it should be his opportunity to do the same. Martell had even fewer snaps this year than Fields this year, on 28 attempts he tossed for 269 yards and a touchdown while also adding 128 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Martell announced recently that he would enter the transfer portal giving coaches the opportunity to pursue him. Ultimately, I believe Martell will stay this season and attempt to win the job but if he doesn’t, I believe we could be having this same conversation next season. This will be one of the most watched stories heading into next season and like many fans out there, I’ll be excited to see how it pans out.

QB's to watch heading into this years draft

Top Ten Quarterbacks to watch heading into the 2019 NFL draft

1)      Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State. As a redshirt sophomore Haskins had a breakout season throwing for 4800 hundred yards, 50 TDs and 8 INTs for a 174.1 passer rating. Haskins is a strong-arm quarterback who also uses his legs to create space and scoring options for the Buckeyes. With his 6’3 frame Haskins has the right skills and traits to an instant factor in his rookie season. After finishing third in the Heisman race and carrying the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record and a Rose Bowl win over Washington he’ll be looking to make an instant impact. My NFL comparison for Haskins would be Dak Prescott, with the similar build and traits I think we could see look alike numbers for the next few years to come.

2)      Will Grier, West Virginia, A 6’2 senior from North Carolina made a career resurrection over the last two seasons. Grier threw for 3900 yards chipping in 37 TDs and 8 INTs, Grier is a field general who takes control as soon as he steps onto the gridiron. As a 23-year-old Grier brings a form of leadership that most rookies don’t have coming straight out of the draft, after a disappointing run at the end of the season ending with a lost to Syracuse in their bowl game Grier will look to show he can ball out in big games. My NFL comparison is Matt Stafford, like Stafford; Grier has the vision to see the whole field and not settle for the first route he sees.

3)      Drew Lock, Missouri, a 6’4 senior from Missouri looks to get back to the top of teams big boards after dropping off throughout the season. After a big junior season throwing for 44 TDs his numbers took a step back only throwing for 3500 yards 28 TDs and 8 INTs. Lock struggles with consistency having a 63% completion rate which is an improvement from his previous season. Lock carried the team to an 8-5 record but struggled in conference games going 4-4. My NFL comparison would be Derek Carr, both quarterbacks show the potential to be great but have problems with consistency and showing up when it matters.

4)      Daniel Jones, Duke. The big strong arm QB from North Carolina looks to prove that Duke doesn’t just produce basketball stars. With his 6’5 frame and his rocket arm Jones has the ability to make the long ball look easy, throwing for 2700 yards, 22 TDs and 9 INTs. Jones faced the struggle of competing in a strong conference carrying the Blue Devils to an 8-5 record but only went 3-5 in ACC play. Jones will look to use his height and his arm to lure coaches to take a gamble on drafting him. My NFL comparison would be Ben Roethlisberger, with similar size and similar arms but more importantly both players coming out of lesser known football schools, Jones will look to make the same impact Big Ben did coming out of the gates.

5)       Kyler Murray, Oklahoma. The definition of a dual threat quarterback the Heisman winner has put his name out there for potentially entering this upcoming draft. Murray was electric this year throwing for 4400 yards, 42 TDs and 7 INTs. He also chipped in 1000 yards and 12 TDs on the ground. Murray would be higher on the list if it wasn’t for a fact that I believe he’s using this as way to squeeze out a few more dollars from the Oakland Athletics, the team that drafted him 9th overall in last years MLB draft. My NFL comparison is Russell Wilson, both QB’s made their college career out of using both their arms and legs to put points up on the board. Unlike Wilson I don’t believe we will see Murray scoring touchdowns in the NFL.

6)      Ryan Finley, NC State. The 6’4 gunslinger out of Phoenix, Arizona may not be a name you know now but I believe it could be a name we hear a lot more often in years to come. Finley tossed for 3900 yards 25 TDs and 11 INTs, he led the Wolfpack to a 9-4 record and managed a 5-3 record in a tough ACC conference. Finley struggled with interceptions this year increasing from 6 the previous season, he’ll need to focus on his control if he wants to be able to compete for a job this off season. My NFL comparison would be Case Keenum, another guy who struggles with his control and interception numbers, they also compare well because like Keenum I expect Finley to find his role as a starter after multiple seasons as a backup learning from a strong veteran.

7)      Jarrett Stidham, Auburn. The 6’3 junior from Texas looks to find his footing on coaches big board after falling down throughout the season. Stidham threw 2800 yards which is a decrease after coming off a 3200-yard season a year prior. While his yards are down his touchdown and interceptions stayed the same with 18 TDs and 5 INTs. Stidham will likely fall into the later rounds as a depth quarterback who will need to learn from more experienced veterans. My NFL comparison would be Tyrod Taylor, Taylor was drafted in the later rounds and was able to learn from a veteran like Flacco before taking over as a starter for another squad.

8)      Easton Stick, North Dakota State. Stick is a dual threat quarterback who some people may never heard of maybe that’s because he doesn’t play in the FCS. Stick looks to become the second quarterback in the last five years to come out of the FBS and I believe he’ll make one team in the later rounds of the draft very happy. Throwing for 2800 yards, 28 TDs, and 7 INTs while also adding 700 yards and 17 TDs on the ground. Stick is the definition of a sleeper pick if he even gets drafted, which I believe would be a mistake if he doesn’t. My NFL comparison is none other than the other QB to be drafted out of the FCS and that’s former teammate Carson Wentz. With Stick being Wentz backup, their play styles are very similar with Stick picking up many of Carson’s traits even his injury bug as both quarterback’s struggle with staying healthy.

9)      Trace McSorley, Penn State. The 6’0 senior finds himself near the bottom of my list after having a major drop off season. After throwing for 3600 yards and 28 TDs his junior season he struggled this year only chucking up 2500 yards and 18 TDs, the one bright spot from this season were his INT numbers which dropped from 10 last season to 7 this year. McSorley suffered a foot injury in his bowl game which hopefully clears up before he starts working out for teams prior to the draft. My NFL comparison is Teddy Bridgewater, both quarterbacks use their legs as a way to gain first downs for their teams but they’ve also both obtained legs injuries so we’ll see if McSorley will be able to bounce back like Teddy did.

10)   Jake Browning, Washington. The four-year starter out of California rounds out my list for the ten quarterbacks to watch heading into this year’s draft. Browning must be the biggest hater of the NCAA rule of players staying at least three years after throwing for 3400 yards and 43 touchdowns his Sophomore season. His numbers dropped off immensely with his touchdown numbers for the last two seasons not even combining for 43 touchdowns with 19 his junior season and 16 his senior season. Although his passing yard were back up this year with 3200 yards it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll ever get back up to where he once was. My NFL comparison is Colt McCoy who had an amazing college career before disappearing in the NFL so it’ll be interesting to see if Browning is the same way if he even gets drafted in the first place.