Finding a dependable and productive starting quarterback is a huge challenge for all 128 college football coaches each season. While recruiting and developing a player is the easiest and preferred route, sometimes that plan doesn’t work. 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.
There are several players expected to make an impact as a transfer quarterback in 2015, including Everett Golson at Florida State and Vernon Adams at Oregon. Outside of the Power 5 ranks, Jeff Driskel at Louisiana Tech and Max Wittek at Hawaii are two names to watch among Group of 5 teams.
Power 5 Quarterback Transfers
Vernon Adams, Eastern Washington to Oregon
Adams is one of the most interesting quarterback transfers to hit the FBS level in recent years. The California native was one of the top players in the FCS ranks over the last three seasons, throwing for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns and rushing for 1,232 yards and 11 scores. While Adams has been an elite quarterback for Eastern Washington, he has to translate that production to the Pac-12 and a level of play with more talent. The Ducks certainly aren’t hurting for options or talent at the skill positions. If Adams quickly settles into the starting job, Oregon should be in the mix for a playoff spot once again.
Virginia has been a busy place for quarterback transactions this offseason. David Watford departed to Hampton, and Greyson Lambert left for Georgia after spring practice. Adding Brewer as a graduate transfer makes a lot of sense for Virginia, as more depth is needed behind starter Matt Johns. The junior has two years of eligibility left and was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Brewer has yet to throw a pass on the FBS level.
Ferguson left Penn State after one season in Happy Valley. In his only year with the Nittany Lions, the California native played in five games and completed 10 of 15 passes for 155 yards and one score. Louisville’s quarterback competition is a crowded one, as Reggie Bonnafon, Will Gardner, Kyle Bolin and Ferguson are all competing for the first snap. Bonnafon has the edge to start in 2015.
Related: ACC 2015 Predictions
Garman was a late addition to Maryland’s 2015 roster, joining the team in late May as a graduate transfer. Caleb Rowe is expected to be the Terrapins’ quarterback this year, but the junior is recovering from a torn ACL. Garman completed only 54.9 percent of his passes (277) at Oklahoma State in 2014. However, he also has a knack for producing big plays, completing 19 passes of 30 yards or more.
Golson transferred from Notre Dame following spring practice and was brought in to compete with Sean Maguire for the starting job. Replacing Jameis Winston is no easy task, but Golson – 3,445 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns in 2014 – should be one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC if he beats out Maguire.
Lambert started nine games for Virginia in 2014 but was edged by Matt Johns at the end of spring practice for the starting job. The Georgia native is eligible to compete immediately as a graduate transfer and will open fall practices at No. 3 after Jacob Park announced his intentions to transfer in June. Lambert is a good addition for a team with an uncertain quarterback situation, but it’s unlikely he wins the job with Faton Bauta and Brice Ramsey ahead on the depth chart.
Related: SEC 2015 Predictions
Mayfield has traveled an interesting path to Oklahoma. The Texas native was a walk-on recruit to Texas Tech and started the season opener for the Red Raiders in 2013. Mayfield finished 2013 with 2,315 passing yards and 12 touchdowns but decided to transfer at the end of the regular season. And after sitting out 2014 due to transfer rules, the junior is the frontrunner to take the first snap for Oklahoma in 2015. New play-caller Lincoln Riley is tweaking the Sooners’ offensive scheme, and Mayfield should benefit by the shift to more of an Air Raid style.
Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions
Chad Voytik returns as Pittsburgh’s starter after throwing for 2,233 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014. But with a new coaching staff and offensive scheme, Peterman will have an opportunity to push for time in the fall. Peterman was recruited to Tennessee by current Pittsburgh play-caller Jim Chaney. The familiarity should help Peterman quickly acclimate to his new surroundings.
Rettig – a former four-star prospect out of high school – is locked into a tight battle with Chris Laviano for the starting job. Rettig redshirted in his only year at LSU but threw for 3,424 yards and 40 touchdowns in his senior year at Cathedral High School. While Laviano won the job in the spring, Rettig will have an opportunity to claim the starting spot in the fall.
Rudock left Iowa for a chance to start at Michigan and learn under Jim Harbaugh for one season. In four seasons with the Hawkeyes, Rudock completed 417 of 691 passes for 4,819 yards and 34 scores. The senior is expected to edge Shane Morris for the starting job in the fall.
Other Power 5 Quarterback Transfers to Watch
Josh Grady, Vanderbilt to Florida
Ty Griffin, Georgia Tech to Oregon
Nic Shimonek, Iowa to Texas Tech
Group of 5 Quarterback Transfers
FIU has a promising sophomore in Alex McGough, but it never hurts to add competition for a team that finished 4-8 and averaged only 23 points per game in 2014. Anderson completed 25 of 53 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown in three seasons of playing time at Pittsburgh.
Russell Bellomy, Michigan to UTSA
Bellomy was buried on the Michigan depth chart and transferred to UTSA as a graduate transfer for 2015. The Texas native played in six career game with the Wolverines and will push Blake Bogenschutz and Austin Robinson for snaps.
Michael Birdsong, James Madison to Marshall
Birdsong started for James Madison in 2013, throwing for 2,728 yards and 22 scores and adding 310 yards and three scores on the ground. Marshall’s offense is one of the best among the Group of 5 ranks, and Birdsong is inheriting plenty of talent to work with in 2015. The junior finished spring at the top of the depth chart.
Related: Conference USA 2015 Predictions
The Zips are looking for a spark in their passing attack after throwing only seven touchdown passes in MAC play last year. Chapman – a former four-star recruit – is expected to push returning starter Kyle Pohl for the starting job.
Cody Clements, UAB to South Alabama
Clements was a good find for UAB on the recruiting trail last season, as the Cerritos College transfer threw for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games. The California native transferred to South Alabama after UAB disbanded its football team for 2015 and is expected to start for coach Joey Jones.
Wyoming averaged 227.8 passing yards per game last season, but this offense should have an upgrade at quarterback with the addition of Coffman. The Indiana transfer threw for 2,734 yards and 15 scores in 2012 with the Hoosiers.
Driskel was a four-star prospect coming out of high school, but the Florida native had his share of ups and downs in Gainesville. With one year of eligibility left and a new offensive scheme for the Gators, Driskel decided to transfer to Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs had good success with a graduate transfer last year (Cody Sokol), and Driskel will have plenty of talent to work with, including star running back Kenneth Dixon. Driskel threw for 3,411 yards and 23 touchdowns to 20 interceptions in his Florida career.
Greg Ward is a rising star at quarterback for new Houston coach Tom Herman, but depth behind the junior was an issue. Schulz is a graduate transfer from Utah and threw for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns in three years with the Utes.
Smith battled shoulder injuries at Kentucky and used the 2014 season as a redshirt year. But when he’s healthy, Smith has proven he can be a solid FBS quarterback. The senior threw for 21 touchdowns and 3,070 yards in three seasons with the Wildcats.
Southern Miss has a returning starter at quarterback in junior Nick Mullens (12 TDs, 9 INTs in 2014), but Matthews – a four-star recruit in the 2012 signing class – will have an opportunity to win the starting job. The Kansas native was also recruited to Oklahoma State by current Southern Miss coach Todd Monken.
UConn is desperately looking for a spark on offense after averaging only 169.3 passing yards per game in 2014. Shirreffs had success in a limited role at NC State in 2013, completing 4 of 5 passes for 17 yards and one score, along with 158 yards on the ground. Shirreffs has an edge over Tim Boyle and Garrett Anderson to start.
With an 8-29 mark in three years at Hawaii, Norm Chow is squarely on the hot seat entering 2015. But Chow has reason for optimism this year, as Wittek was a former top 100 recruit in the 2011 signing class and a four-star prospect. Wittek only completed 50 of 95 passes for 600 yards and three scores in two seasons of playing time with the Trojans. However, he’s a talented passer and is an upgrade for the Rainbow Warriors at quarterback.
Other Quarterback Transfers to Watch
Damion Hobbs, Oregon to Utah State
Jake Rodrigues, Oregon to San Diego State
Blaire Sullivan, UTEP to Texas State