Dating back to Russell Wilson using a little-known loophole to transfer from North Carolina State to Wisconsin without sitting out a year, transfer quarterbacks have seemingly ruled the roost in college football. Three transfers, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Joe Burrow have won the Heisman Trophy and been selected in first overall in the NFL draft since 2017. Justin Fields nearly made it a fourth Heisman Trophy winner from transfer quarterbacks.
With the transfer rules allowing more player movement than ever before, and with fan bases less patient than ever, the market for transfer quarterbacks, who now do not have to sit out a year and are eligible immediately, is as important, if not more important, than recruiting signal callers out of high school.
Because of it, we will be closely monitoring the transfer portal situation here at Aaron Torres Online over the next few weeks - specifically at quarterback. The right quarterback can completely change a program (see, Burrow, Joe) and with it, we've decided to get a head start and look at what the quarterback situation might look like in the portal this winter.
To be clear, we aren't rooting for anyone to leave, but it's our job to cover the sport and this is the new reality of college football - when you don't play, you generally look for someplace else where you will.
Here is the transfer situation at quarterback as we currently see it, and understand: This will continue to change and evolve in the coming weeks. For simplicity sake, we have broken this article into four categories: "Already in the portal," "almost certainly entering the portal" and "it makes some sense" with a separate category dedicated just to the situation at Ohio State.
Already In The Portal
As a recruit: four-star, sixth ranked pro-style quarterback, 152nd overall in class of 2017 according to 247 composite rankings
Current school: LSU
Career stats: 121/201 (60.2%) 1,712 yards 13 TD 6 INT 147.1rtg
Remaining eligibility: One year
Brennan announced on Monday he would be entering the portal. The 6’4 210 lb. quarterback sat behind Joe Burrow in 2018 and 2019 before winning the job to start the 2020 season. Despite LSU going 1-2 he put up 43.3 points per game in his three starts in 2020 before an abdominal tear suffered in the first quarter of the third start against Missouri (a game in which he finished) kept him out for the remainder of the season. Brennan was supposed to compete with second-year player Max Johnson for the starting job this year, but he broke his non-throwing arm in a freak accident right before the start of fall camp, handing Johnson the keys to the car and sealing Brennan’s fate to the transfer portal.
Brennan is built like a prototypical pocket passer and shows above-average accuracy and the ability to understand multi-read passing attacks. While he’s only made three career starts, 2022 will be his sixth season on a college football roster and he will bring experience to any program who brings him in. Brennan is almost certainly looking for a program where he will be nearly guaranteed to start, and a situation where he provides a bridge year to a young and talented quarterback could be ideal.
Almost Certainly Entering the Portal
As a recruit: five-star,top-ranked pro-style quarterback, 11th overall in 2019 recruiting class according to 247 composite rankings
Current team: Oklahoma
Career Stats: 356/508 (70.1%) 4,550 yds, 40 td, 12 int, 166.6 rtg, 9 rushing touchdowns
Remaining eligibility: three years (played less than four games in 2019 to preserve redshirt, 2020 does not count against eligibility NCAA-wide)
I wrote at length about Rattler’s situation a few weeks ago, so I’ll keep this short and to the point, as all the pertinent information is linked above. He’s nearly certain to transfer, as Caleb Williams has captured the hearts of Sooner fans as well as the Oklahoma locker room. Rattler will be highly sought after, though, and he will have multiple offers to come in and start and power 5 schools.
There have been some recent developments as Rattler’s own coach admitted he won't be back at Oklahoma. The Arizona native has shown interest in Arizona State, who seems poised to lose Jayden Daniels to the NFL, and Arizona State has shown interest back, sources tell Aaron Torres Online. However, other programs, such as Oregon, have told the controversial Rattler that they are not interested.
The best case scenario for Rattler is that he goes somewhere where program-wide expectations aren’t as high as they are at a place like Oklahoma and he lights it up for a year or two before going in the first round of the NFL draft, a place most expected him to be in this upcoming draft before losing his job to the freshman Williams.
The Buckeye Backups:
(Disclaimer: The writer has a personal relationship with the family of Kyle McCord and is not writing anything that is not publicly available about the situations of all three Ohio State quarterbacks mentioned)
As a recruit: five-star, sixth ranked quarterback, 28th overall in the 2021 recruiting class according to 247 composite rankings
Current school: Ohio State
Career Stats: 21/30 (70%) 399 yds 2 TD 1 INT 197.1 RTG
Remaining Eligibility: Three years with redshirt available.
McCord was a highly touted prospect out of the Philadelphia metro area from a relatively young age, and won three PIAA 6A state titles at St. Joseph’s Prep. He committed to Ohio State early on in the process and stuck with the Buckeyes through mostly smooth sailing, until Quinn Ewers, who we will get to later, flipped from Texas to Ohio State. McCord enrolled at Ohio State in January and competed with C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller, who we will also get to, for the starting job in the Spring. Quinn Ewers reclassified to the 2021 class in August, making the Ohio State quarterback room extra crowded. McCord has played mostly in relief of Stroud in blowouts but did get a start in week four against Akron when Stroud sat with a shoulder injury.
McCord brings ideal height, intelligence and accuracy to the quarterback position, with arm strength that could become a plus arm at the next level if he continues to add strength. He projects to be one of the top transfer portal quarterbacks on the market, given the three years of eligibility left and pedigree.
He fits best for a top fifteen program who is losing a quarterback to the draft or graduation this year.
As a recruit: four-star, thirteenth ranked pro-star quarterback, 334th ranked player overall in the 2020 class according to 247 composite rankings
Current school: Ohio State
Career Stats: 7/14 (50%) 101 yds 0 td 0 int 110.6 rtg
Remaining Eligibility: As of now, has four years to play four with no redshirt. If he gets snaps in one more Ohio State game this year, he will have three years of eligibility and a redshirt.
The situation around Miller is very fluid, to say the least, as the second-year player has been suspended indefinitely by Ohio State after a DUI (OVI in the state of Ohio) arrest on Friday, November 5.
Miller came to Ohio State by way of Phoenix, and was one of two west coast quarterbacks the Buckeyes took in 2020, with current starter C.J. Stroud being the other. Miller was the less touted of the two, but actually saw the field ahead of Stroud last year as Stroud was battling injuries, and he had two carries for 23 yards and a touchdown in that game. He’s been the third stringer all year this year, but has played in four games.
Even before the arrest it was hard to see Miller at Ohio State next season. After the arrest, it seems that there’s no shot he sticks around another semester in Columbus. Miller brings good size and mobility to the table, as well as two years of coaching under a head coach in Ryan Day who takes a hands-on approach to developing his quarterbacks. Miller should see some power five opportunities from some programs looking for long-term solutions at quarterback come his way this offseason, as long as he gets his legal troubles sorted out.
As a recruit: five-star, number one quarterback and number one overall player in the 2021 class according to 247 composite rankings
Current school: Ohio State
Career stats: has not taken the field
Remaining Eligibility: four years to play four
Ewers has long been considered a quarterback prodigy. He’s out of Southlake Carroll HS, one of the top programs in Texas, and overcame a core injury that kept him out of a multitude of games last season to lead Southlake Carroll to the 6A I state finals, where they lost to Clemson commit Cade Klubnik and Austin Westlake. Ewers was committed to Texas, but flipped to Ohio State in November of 2020. With the advent of NIL, Ewers looked to capitalize financially in Texas during his senior year of high school in 2021, only to be rebuffed by the state’s governing body. Ewers then decided to reclassify to the class of 2021 and enrolled at Ohio State in August to take advantage of NIL opportunities. He has not seen the field yet this season for Ohio State.
Ewers is a name that on first glance may surprise people on this list. But it’s hard to see someone with his pedigree sitting behind C.J. Stroud, who looks to have a chance at being a Heisman finalist, next year, as Stroud is not draft-eligible. Rumors that Ewers is homesick and is looking to return to Texas to play for another quarterback guru in Steve Sarkisian have started to emerge in the last few weeks, though Ryan Day insists that Ewers is becoming more comfortable in the Ohio State program.
Personally, I can’t see two of Stroud, McCord, Miller and Ewers on the Buckeye roster come next Fall. They’re simply too talented to sit and watch for another season. Maybe Day decides to play the long game and gives Ewers the job out of Spring. If he does indeed decide to move on, Ewers would be a take for basically every program in the country, as he’s thought of as one of the top quarterback prospects in some time.
Texas would obviously be an obvious destination.
It Makes Some Sense
As a recruit: four-star, number eight pro-style quarterback, number 225 player overall in the class of 2020 according to 247 composite rankings
Current team: Notre Dame
Career stats: 17/33 (51.5%) 236 yd 2 TD 0 INT 131.6 rtg
Eligibility remaining: four to play four unless he gets snaps in three more Notre Dame games
Pyne was a hyped quarterback prospect when you take into account he played Connecticut high school football, not exactly a hotbed for high-level division one quarterbacks. Pyne, who comes from an athletic family and has a grandfather who played in the NFL, committed to Notre Dame early in the process. He saw action in two games in 2020, including in the playoff semifinal against Alabama. Coach Brian Kelly brought in former Wisconsin starter Jack Coan in from the transfer portal to go along with incoming, highly touted freshman Tyler Buchner. Pyne has seen time and looked to spark Notre Dame against Wisconsin and Cincinnati earlier this year, but he’s now clearly third in the pecking order, with the freshman Buchner looking like the heir apparent.
Pyne is undersized at just 6’0 and his arm isn’t up to NFL standards, but it’s good enough for a lot of college offenses. He has great accuracy and moves well inside and outside of the pocket. Given that he has plenty of eligibility left, it’s not hard to see a lot of power five programs go after Pyne.
He fits bets in a scheme that will allow him to use his feet in the run game and employ a short passing game.
As a recruit: four-star, second-ranked pro style quarterback, 59th player overall in the 2020 class according to 247 composite rankings
Current school: Texas
Career stats: 39/65 (60%) 420 yds 3 TD 0 INT 129.5 rtg
Remaining eligibility: Four years to play three
Card is a born and raised Texan and came from Lake Travis High School, the same high school that produced Garrett Gilbert, Baker Mayfield, Michael Brewer and Todd Reesing, among others at the quarterback position. He played wide receiver for Lake Travis until his junior season but burst onto the scene as an elite quarterback recruit before even having the starting job at Lake Travis. He committed to Texas before his junior season. He sat behind Sam Ehlinger last season, and was in a battle in the spring and fall camp with Casey Thompson to be the starter this year. Card won the job out of camp. He started in an impressive Texas win over then-eighteenth ranked Louisiana in week one, but lost the job the next week midway through Texas’s loss to Arkansas. Thompson has started all the games since, though Card did just play a sizable chunk of Texas’s last game, a 30-7 loss to Iowa State.
Card’s best attribute out of high school was his playmaking ability, but that playmaking ability got him into trouble in that Arkansas loss and may need to be reined in. Card’s arm is good, but not great, and he does have some mechanical breakdowns in the pocket. Still, this is a player who, if he does decide to leave, which may or may not depend on whether Quinn Ewers is a Longhorn soon, will have plenty of suitors among top programs.
As a recruit: three-star, 26th ranked pro-style quarterback and 705th player overall in the 2019 class according to 247 sports composite rankings
Current school: USC
Career stats: 652/953 (68.4%) 58 TD 24 INT 150.2 rtg
Remaining Eligibility: Two years to play one
Slovis, who was the least touted recruit on this list, is probably the most accomplished college quarterback on the list. He burst onto the scene after a myriad of injuries to the USC quarterback room as a freshman in 2019, throwing 30 touchdowns and looking every bit the part of the next great Trojan signal caller. He followed that up with a 2020 season that was not as good as his 2019 campaign, but given the circumstances involving COVID-19, it was still a good year and put him in position to potentially be a first round selection in this year’s NFL draft. He’s gotten the majority of the reps this year for USC, but has been up and down, with an 11/8 TD to INT ratio. Freshman Jaxson Dart has arguably made the USC offense look better than Slovis has in a lost year for USC, who fired Clay Helton after two games. Highly touted class of 2022 quarterback Devin Brown is USC-bound as well.
With USC in the process of hiring a new coach, it’s not hard to see a scenario in which Slovis isn’t there next year. The new hire may want to go with a younger option in Dart or Brown while he’s rebuilding the program. That new coach could also go to the transfer portal and bring someone in.
Slovis is a true pocket passer and shows limited mobility. But, he gets the ball out quickly and relatively accurately, and possesses adequate arm strength for the next level. He will be highly sought after by programs looking for a short term answer at quarterback next year.
Follow Garrett Carr on Twitter @RealGarrettCarr