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Neither player has said he will transfer from his respective programs Ohio State and Notre Dame, but both were supplanted on their respective depth charts and both watched their backups seize their starting opportunities. While both players might want to stick it out and compete for a starting role at their current school, both could be immediate starters for other strong programs.
So let’s play devil’s advocate.
Let’s say both players decide to transfer. Where should they go? Well, there are a lot of places that need good quarterbacks, but we’ve narrowed it down to the top five places that could use one of these two seasoned quarterbacks on their roster in 2015.
Overview: The Tigers passing offense ranked 114th in the nation and that’s not good for a league that has become more offensive in recent years. The Tigers shuffled between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris, but neither was consistent enough to be go-to favorite. If anything, bringing in a veteran quarterback could give both players another year to learn and get better.
Why Miller: Miller knows what it’s like to play with diverse offensive talent and this team has it even if it wasn’t totally realized. Moreover, the defense is one of the best in the country. This is a chance for Miller not only to play in the SEC, but also play for a contender in the SEC West and possibly a spot in the College Football Playoff. A consistent quarterback is the Tigers’ only missing piece.
Why Golson: There was a story that Golson had already been in touch with LSU about a possible transfer, though Golson refuted the story on Twitter. However, the South Carolina native is familiar with the SEC and might be eager to get back to his roots. He’s a passing quarterback, which would allow star running back Leonard Fornette to get his touches without having to share with his QB. The only issue with Golson might be his lack of success against Alabama.
Overview: Florida State loses Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, who declared early for the NFL draft. This is a tough blow. Winston only lost one game as a starter and was considered the Seminoles motor. Still, his off-field issues left something to be desired and having him off the roster will be a great relief to FSU’s PR department. Backup Sean Maguire did fine in his start against Clemson, but he’s not the caliber of either Miller or Golson.
Why Miller: Miller is a proven commodity, which would allow the Seminoles to pick up right where they left off. He has a decent arm and has mobility that could complement the ‘Noles running game. Miller knows how to play at a high level and he knows how to lead his team to undefeated seasons just like the last guy that was there.
Why Golson: If Florida State is looking for a quarterback that’s similar to Jameis Winston, Golson would be that guy. He has a nice arm and decent vision. Notre Dame players also have remarked about his leadership skills. Unfortunately, he also had some of the turnover issues Winston had in 2014. It also helps that Florida State played against Notre Dame, so coach Jimbo Fisher would know what he’s getting.
Overview: With Marcus Mariota declaring early for the NFL draft, the Ducks lose the heart and soul of their offense. Not sure either one of these guys can replace Mariota in terms of what he meant to the team, but both Miller and Golson would be able to complement the plethora of returning young talent. Mariota’s backup, Jeff Lockie, played in spot time this season, but wasn’t as impressive as either of these two possible free agents. Oregon might do well with a veteran bridge to continue its momentum.
Why Miller: Miller’s arm strength and mobility fit perfectly with Oregon’s system. Miller isn’t Mariota. He’s not as big and doesn’t have the same type of accuracy, but he can improvise like Mariota, which would be a big asset for the Ducks. Oregon’s offensive system is similar to Ohio State’s as is the diversity of the offensive personnel. This would be a pretty seamless transition.
Why Golson: Golson would be a different quarterback from Mariota. Golson isn’t a dual-threat, but he is a strong passer. However, with the speed of the Oregon offense, Golson might be more prone toward making mistakes, something that won’t go over well in Eugene. Golson threw 14 interceptions and had a slew of fumbles this season. It was one of the reasons he was benched in favor of Malik Zaire in the Music City Bowl.
Overview: Coach Charlie Strong was not shy about declaring his need for a veteran quarterback next season. Tyrone Swoopes was thrust into action after starter David Ash suffered a career-ending concussion and he didn’t do well. That’s not to say Swoopes might not be the future for this program, he’s just not the future right now and Texas needs to win right now. Former Houston quarterback John O’Korn is transferring and has been linked to the Longhorns after he lost his starting job to Greg Ward Jr., who was effective in both the passing and running game. Not sure O’Korn could be a solution for the Longhorns either.
Why Miller: He’s a winner. Miller knows how to lead a program out of transition and that’s what Texas needs. However, there not as much talent at Texas as there is at some of Miller’s other options. And in a pass-happy league like the Big 12, Miller might be put in a situation where he’s putting more stress on his surgically repaired throwing shoulder.
Why Golson: Texas is a major program that showed flashes of being good last season. It has a strong defense and the Big 12 would play to the strengths of a strong passer like Golson. Still, as noted with Miller, the offensive options aren’t there. This is still a program in transition and with just a year to play, this might not be the best place to land if you want to be in the College Football Playoff.
Overview: There were high hopes for the Bruins in 2014 with the return of star quarterback Brett Hundley and a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. However, early issues with the offensive line hurt UCLA and it resulted in a respectable, but underachieving, 10-3 season. However, now that Hudley has declared for the NFL draft, the Bruins are looking like 2015 might be a rebuilding year with Jerry Neuheisel as the team’s starter. Neuheisel played well in spots in 2014, but he’s no Hundley and he’s probably not a player that’s going to get the Bruins more than eight wins. The Pac-12 South was the stronger of the two Pac-12 divisions and two of the teams in that division have two of the nation’s best quarterbacks.
Why Miller: Miller is a lot like Hundley in terms of ability. He can pass, he can run and he’s got the leadership skills to keep the Bruins moving in the right direction. UCLA returns its top running back and its top seven receivers, which all had at least 200 yards in 2014. Miller could step into this offense and UCLA wouldn’t miss a beat.
Why Golson: Golson would be a different type of quarterback for UCLA, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing. With a ton of receiving talent, Golson could have a lot of success spreading the ball around while allowing Paul Perkins to take over the running game. Using a pure pocket passer has worked for other Pac-12 South teams such as Arizona and USC, Golson could be a nice transition for the Bruins to that style of play.
Other potential landing spots: South Carolina, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Duke and Michigan.
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