Quarterback play is always under the microscope for every college football team. This position is the toughest to evaluate, develop and project for upcoming seasons. Finding a new starter or replacing a departing senior comes easy for some teams.
While all teams would prefer to develop a quarterback pipeline through the recruiting ranks, a transfer from another program could be the right fit as the new starter. Whether it’s a one-year stopgap solution or a player that could develop into a multi-year starter, transfers can have an immediate impact for any program. It’s no secret transfers are a huge part of any offseason and can help the coaching staff bridge the gap to the next prospect or fill a void after a player didn’t develop as expected.
The transfer carousel featured some big movement in the quarterback ranks this offseason. Here’s a look at the top 30 transfers - ranked by expected impact - at quarterback for the 2016 season:
30. Zach Kline, California to ?
Kline is a well-traveled passer looking for a new team after spending the spring with Cal. The California native originally started his career in Berkeley and threw for 443 yards and three scores in 2013. Kline transferred to Butte College for the 2014 campaign and landed at Indiana State for the 2015 season. He played in three games with the Sycamores last year and completed 6 of 13 passes for 47 yards. Kline appears to have interest in transferring to Fresno State for the upcoming year.
29. Anthony Jennings, LSU to ?/Connor Mitch, South Carolina to ?
The transfer destinations for Jennings and Mitch - two former SEC starters - are uncertain. Both players announced their intention to leave their current school as graduate transfers at the end of spring ball. Jennings started 13 games at LSU, while Mitch had two career starts at South Carolina.
28. Cole Garvin, South Alabama (from Marshall)
Garvin is part of a three-man quarterback battle at South Alabama. The Marshall transfer did not play in 2014 with the Thundering Herd and sat out 2015 due to NCAA transfer rules. Dallas Davis and Evan Orth ended spring with a slight edge on Garvin for the starting nod.
27. Eddie Printz, Texas State (from Missouri)
Printz played sparingly at Missouri over the last two seasons and left Columbia in search of more playing time. Texas State returns Tyler Jones at quarterback, but there’s a new coach (Everett Withers) and staff in place. Can Printz quickly pick up the new offense and challenge Jones for the starting job?
26. Asiantii Woulard, USF (from UCLA)
Woulard was a four-star recruit out of Winter Park High School and spent two years at UCLA before transferring back to his home state. Quinton Flowers is entrenched as USF’s starter, but the Bulls have a good backup plan in Woulard in case of injury.
25. Austin Appleby, Florida (from Purdue)
Florida’s offense stalled after Will Grier’s suspension last season, but the quarterback depth in Gainesville looks a lot better for 2016. Appleby and Luke Del Rio are eligible as transfers, while true freshman Feleipe Franks also joined in time for spring ball. Appleby recorded 11 starts in three years at Purdue and threw for 2,777 yards in 17 overall appearances. The senior is likely to open the season as the Gators’ No. 2 quarterback.
24. Danny Etling, LSU (from Purdue)
It’s no secret LSU needs more from its passing offense to push Alabama and Ole Miss in the SEC West this season. Brandon Harris threw for 2,158 yards and 13 scores last year and only completed 53.6 percent of his passes. Etling was brought in to push Harris and compete for the starting job and closed spring ball by completing four of eight passes for 93 yards and two interceptions in the final scrimmage. Etling threw for 2,490 yards and 16 scores in two years at Purdue. He’s expected to begin 2016 as LSU’s No. 2 quarterback.
23. Tyler Ferguson, WKU (from Louisville)
WKU is Ferguson’s third stop at the FBS level. The California native began his career at the College of the Sequoias and transferred to Penn State in 2013. After playing in five games with the Nittany Lions that season, Ferguson transferred to Louisville and used the 2014 campaign as a redshirt year. With one season of eligibility left, Ferguson is vying with USF transfer Mike White and sophomore Drew Eckels to replace standout Brandon Doughty under center in Jeff Brohm’s high-powered offense.
22. Faton Bauta, Colorado State (from Georgia)
Second-year coach Mike Bobo landed a familiar name from his old job to add depth to the quarterback position in 2016. Bauta transfers from Georgia to Fort Collins with an opportunity to push starter Nick Stevens for the starting job. Stevens earned second-team All-Mountain West honors and threw for 2,679 yards and 21 scores in 2015, so it won’t be easy for Bauta to earn the starting job. However, Bauta has good mobility, which could provide a different dimension for Bobo’s offense.
21. Tyler Matthews, New Mexico State (from Southern Miss)
New Mexico State is Matthews’ third stop at the FBS level. The Texas native has previous stints at TCU and Southern Miss, but he has only four appearances in his career. Matthews was regarded as a four-star prospect out of high school and is expected to push Tyler Rogers for the starting job.
20. Ricky Town, Arkansas (from USC)
Replacing Brandon Allen won’t be easy, but Arkansas seems to have a capable candidate in Austin Allen, along with good depth in the form of Town, Rafe Peavey and Ty Storey. Town was the highest regarded quarterback out of that mix, ranking as a four-star and top-100 prospect in the 2015 signing class. However, Town didn’t challenge for the starting job in the spring and is likely ticketed as the No. 3 or No. 4 quarterback to open fall practice.
19. Conner Manning, Georgia State (from Utah)
Nick Arbuckle finished his Georgia State career in 2015 as one of the nation’s top Group of 5 quarterbacks. En route to earning first-team All-Sun Belt honors, Arbuckle threw for 4,368 yards and 28 scores last season. Manning is part of a three-man battle to replace Arbuckle after transferring from Utah. Manning played in only one game with the Utes and completed two of six passes for 28 yards in 2014. Sophomore Emiere Scaife and redshirt freshman Aaron Winchester will compete with Manning for the starting job in the fall.
18. Grant Rohach, Buffalo (from Iowa State)
With Grant Merchant transferring at the end of spring ball, Buffalo’s quarterback battle is down to Rohach and promising redshirt freshman Tyree Jackson. Rohach made five starts in three years with the Cyclones and finished his career in Ames with 1,491 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Rohach also has good mobility and figures to be a solid fit under second-year coach Lance Leipold and coordinator Andy Kotelnicki – if he can edge Jackson for the No. 1 spot.
17. Zack Greenlee, UTEP (from Fresno State)
With Mack Leftwich sidelined for the 2016 season, Greenlee was a key pickup late in the spring for the Miners. In two years at Fresno State, Greenlee threw for 1,079 yards and 14 touchdowns to six interceptions. The California native did not transfer in time for spring practice but is expected to be locked into a tight battle with sophomores Ryan Metz and Kavika Johnson for the starting nod this fall.
16. Zach Allen, Rutgers (from TCU)
Quarterback play is one of the biggest areas of concern for new coach Chris Ash. Chris Laviano (2,247 yards) is the team’s top returning option, and Hayden Rettig also received action in five games last season. However, Rutgers has a new offense, and coordinator Drew Mehringer is looking for more running ability out of his signal-caller.
Allen announced his intentions to transfer to the team in early June after three years at TCU. The Texas native was used some at receiver during his stint with the Horned Frogs and also completed two passes for 17 yards in 2014. Allen’s mobility should be a good fit for this offense, but the junior has a lot to prove as a passer.
15. Kurt Benkert, Virginia (from East Carolina)
Even though Virginia has a returning starter (Matt Johns), new coach Bronco Mendenhall wasn’t afraid of adding competition to boost the team’s overall talent level and depth at quarterback. Benkert was slated to start at East Carolina before a knee injury sidelined him prior to the 2015 campaign. In 2014, Benkert played in three games with the Pirates and completed 8 of 10 passes for 58 yards. Johns is still the favorite to start, but Benkert showed promise in limited snaps at East Carolina and adds competition for a rebuilding Virginia team this fall.
14. Chad Voytik, Arkansas State (from Pitt)
Fredi Knighten departs after a successful two-year stint as Arkansas State’s starter, but coach Blake Anderson has two promising options vying for the starting job. Junior college transfer (and former Oklahoma signal-caller) Justice Hansen and Pitt transfer Chad Voytik are set to battle for the No. 1 spot in the fall.
Voytik started all 13 games for Pitt in 2014 and threw for 2,223 yards and 16 touchdowns and added 466 yards and three scores on the ground. Voytik lost the starting job at Pitt to Nathan Peterman in 2015 but is a key pickup for Anderson and the potent Arkansas State offense for 2016.
13. Ryan Finley, NC State (from Boise State)
Jacoby Brissett leaves big shoes to fill in Raleigh this season, and the Wolfpack exited spring with Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers locked into a tight battle for the No. 1 spot. However, McClendon and Meyers will have competition in the fall, as Finley is eligible as a graduate transfer after three years at Boise State.
Finley redshirted in his debut with the Broncos and completed 58 passes for 646 yards and three scores over the next two years. Finley was slated to be Boise State’s starting quarterback in 2015 but was sidelined after the third game for the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury.
12. Philip Nelson, East Carolina (from Minnesota/Rutgers)
Nelson has traveled an interesting road to East Carolina and has yet to play in a FBS game since the 2013 season. The Minnesota native spent two years with the Golden Gophers from 2012-13 and threw for 2,179 yards and 17 scores in that span. Additionally, Nelson added 548 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. After two seasons with Minnesota, Nelson transferred to Rutgers but was later dismissed from the team after an off-field incident in 2014. Nelson edged Kurt Benkert (transferred to Virginia after spring ball) for the starting the job and has a chance to have a solid senior year with a strong supporting cast at East Carolina.
11. Jared Johnson, UTSA (from Sam Houston State)
UTSA ranked 11th in Conference USA in passing offense last season, but new coach Frank Wilson hopes to generate improvement with the addition of Johnson through the graduate transfer rank and the hire of veteran assistant Frank Scelfo to call the plays. Johnson was the Southland Offensive Player of the Year after accounting for 2,686 total yards and 23 overall scores in 2015. Johnson should provide a spark for UTSA’s offense and will be an impact transfer for Wilson.
10. Alec Morris, North Texas (from Alabama)
New coach Seth Littrell has a lot of work to do in his first season in Denton. North Texas finished 1-11 and averaged only 15.2 points a game last year. Littrell is one of the nation’s top offensive minds and should get this program back on track over the next couple of seasons, and there’s immediate help on the way in the form of Morris – a graduate transfer from Alabama.
In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Morris attempted only one pass and played in eight games. However, the Texas native should be a good fit for Littrell’s offense, and the former three-star recruit should provide a spark for the Mean Green attack.
9. Darell Garretson, Oregon State (from Utah State)
Oregon State’s offense struggled mightily last season, finishing 12th in the Pac-12 by averaging only 19 points a game. Coach Gary Andersen wasted no time making changes this offseason, as Kevin McGiven and T.J. Woods were promoted to co-coordinators, with last year’s quarterback – Seth Collins – switching to a slash/all-purpose role in 2016. Garretson started seven games at Utah State as a true freshman in 2013 and finished the year with 1,446 passing yards and 10 scores.
He was pressed into duty once again due to injuries in 2014 and threw for 1,140 yards and eight touchdowns in five appearances. Garretson also displayed his mobility to make plays on the run with the Aggies, adding 344 yards and 18 scores in two seasons. He's slated to take the take the first snap for Oregon State this fall.
8. Patrick Towles, Boston College (from Kentucky)
Despite owning one of the nation’s top defenses last season, Boston College finished 3-9 and winless in conference play. Offense was the primary culprit for the Eagles, as this unit managed only 9.1 points a game in ACC contests and failed to score more than 20 points in each of the last 10 contests. However, help is on the way for coach Steve Addazio. With Drew Barker entrenched as Kentucky’s starter, Towles transferred to Boston College looking for a starting job for his final year of eligibility.
In three seasons of playing time with the Wildcats, Towles threw for 5,099 yards and 24 scores, including two years of 2,000 or more passing yards (2014-15). Towles isn’t expected to push for All-ACC honors, but he should give the Boston College offense a much-needed boost after managing only 110.9 passing yards per game in 2015.
7. John O’Korn, Michigan (from Houston)
Jim Harbaugh had a lot of success with a transfer quarterback (Jake Rudock) last season. Could the same formula work once again for the Wolverines in 2016? O’Korn had a promising start to his career at Houston, throwing for 3,117 yards and 28 scores in 2013. However, O’Korn struggled in 2014 and was benched in favor of Greg Ward after tossing eight interceptions through the first five games.
The Florida native should benefit from a change of scenery and the opportunity to work under Harbaugh. O’Korn finished spring locked into a tight battle with Wilton Speight for the starting job.
6. Mike White, WKU (from South Florida)
Brandon Doughty closed out a prolific career at WKU with a standout senior season as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Doughty torched opposing defenses for 5,055 yards and 48 touchdowns in 2015 and earned third-team All-America honors by Athlon Sports. Replacing Doughty’s production won’t be easy, but Jeff Brohm is one of the nation’s top offensive minds and should keep the WKU offense on track.
White showed promise in a two-year stint at USF, throwing for 2,722 yards and 11 scores from 2013-14. The junior is the frontrunner to replace Doughty as WKU’s starter for 2016.
5. Luke Del Rio, Florida (from Oregon State)
Florida’s offense struggled mightily once Will Grier was lost for the year due to a suspension. The Gators averaged only 22.7 points in SEC contests last season and tossed only five touchdown passes over the final six games. While the offense still has to prove in game action it found the right answers this offseason, it’s hard to envision this unit performing at the same level. Del Rio is eligible after sitting out 2015 as a transfer from Oregon State and finished spring as Florida’s No. 1 quarterback.
Luke – the son of NFL coach Jack Del Rio – spent one year at Alabama (2013) and played the 2014 season at Oregon State. In his time with the Beavers, Del Rio completed 8 of 18 passes for 141 yards. His experience is limited, but Del Rio should provide a boost for Florida’s passing game.
4. Dakota Prukop, Oregon (from Montana State)
A graduate transfer (Vernon Adams) from the FCS level at quarterback worked out well for Oregon in 2015. Prukop should be another good fit for the Ducks in their dynamic offense, as he transfers to Oregon after accounting for 3,822 yards and 39 total scores at Montana State last season. Additionally, Prukop earned first-team All-America honors by the Associated Press in 2015.
It’s hard to read too much into spring game statistics, but Prukop appears to be making an easy transition into the program. The senior completed 20 of 29 throws for 190 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s spring game. While Prukop has an impressive resume from his stint at Montana State, he will be pushed by Travis Jonsen for the starting job. Prukop may not be the dynamic playmaker through the air that Adams was, but he will present a bigger threat on the ground to opposing defenses.
3. Trevor Knight, Texas A&M (from Oklahoma)
The December decisions by Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray to transfer from Texas A&M left coach Kevin Sumlin searching for immediate help at quarterback. Sumlin didn’t have to look too far for an answer, as Knight wanted an opportunity to start in his senior year with Baker Mayfield entrenched as Oklahoma’s No. 1 quarterback. Knight appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season after torching Alabama for 348 passing yards and four touchdowns in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. However, Knight didn’t build off that performance and finished the 2014 season with 2,300 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes.
Mayfield supplanted Knight as Oklahoma’s starter in 2015. The senior should be a good fit in new coordinator Noel Mazzone’s offense and is surrounded by a deep group of skill players, including one of the SEC's top receiving corps. If Knight can stay healthy, he has a chance to finish 2016 as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks.
2. Kenny Hill, TCU (from Texas A&M)
Even though TCU’s offense suffered some heavy losses, this unit may not slip too far on the stat sheet in 2016. Trevone Boykin leaves big shoes to fill at quarterback, but the Horned Frogs have two capable options – Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer – waiting in the wings. Hill replaced Johnny Manziel after he left for the NFL in 2014 and started the first eight games of the season. The Texas native threw for 2,649 yards and 23 scores and added 156 yards on the ground during his starting stint. However, Hill struggled midway through the year and was eventually replaced by Kyle Allen.
Since the arrival of co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, TCU has averaged over 40 points in back-to-back seasons. With a loaded group of skill players at his disposal, Hill could be the point guard of an explosive TCU attack in 2016. However, he still has to hold off Sawyer for the starting job this fall.
1. Davis Webb, California (from Texas Tech)
Replacing the No. 1 overall pick (Jared Goff) in the NFL Draft is never easy, but California’s offense should be set with the addition of Davis Webb under center. Webb was the most sought after graduate transfer quarterback this season and was committed to Colorado before switching to California in May. The transition from Texas Tech’s offense to California’s Bear Raid attack should be an easy one for Webb, as new play-caller Jake Spavital operated a similar scheme at Texas A&M and West Virginia.
During his three seasons with the Red Raiders, Webb threw for 5,557 yards and 46 scores. The Golden Bears will have a revamped group of receivers for Webb to throw to, but the senior is considered one of the top prospects at quarterback for the 2017 NFL Draft and should push for All-Pac-12 honors.
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