Ranking the top 40 quarterback transfers for 2019
The transfer portal and player movement has been a popular topic throughout the offseason, but quarterback transfers have always been an interesting storyline prior to any college football season. That's certainly the case in 2019, as a number of high-profile players have changed teams for the upcoming year. Jalen Hurts is making the move from Alabama to Oklahoma, while Justin Fields transferred from Georgia to Ohio State for an opportunity to start. Kelly Bryant (Missouri), Jacob Eason (Washington) and Hunter Johnson (Northwestern) are just a few of the other key transfers under center to watch this season.
The 2019 season features a significant amount of movement at the quarterback position, but around 40-50 names appear to be making the jump from one FBS team to another. Athlon Sports has ranked the players by potential impact and playing time for 2019. Note: This list only takes into account FBS to FBS transfer - no JUCOs.
College Football's Impact QB Transfers for 2019
40. Potential impact transfers awaiting waiver decisions: Jordan Travis, Florida State (from Louisville); Johnny Lanagan, Rutgers (from Boston College); Matthew Baldwin, TCU (from Ohio State); Matt McDonald, Bowling Green (from Boston College); Jarret Doege, West Virginia (from Bowling Green)
39. Nick Moore, Oregon State (from Eastern Washington)
Nick is the brother of former Oregon State quarterback Matt Moore. He did not play at Eastern Washington in 2017 and sat out last season due to transfer rules.
38. Sean McCormack, WKU (from Louisville)
McCormack remained in the Bluegrass State after deciding to leave Louisville following the 2018 season, choosing to play at WKU under new coach Tyson Helton. McCormack completed four of 13 throws for 29 yards and one pick with the Cardinals last year.
37. Jackson Tyner, Texas Tech (from Rice)
Tyner played in 16 games and threw for 1,048 yards and four touchdowns over three years at Rice. He’s likely to be the third quarterback behind Alan Bowman and Jett Duffey.
36. John Kolar, Iowa State (from Oklahoma State)
Iowa State doesn’t have much proven depth behind starter Brock Purdy, so Kolar (a senior) fills a need for experience. His brother (Charlie) is also expected to be a key contributor at tight end.
35. Manny Miles, Kansas (from North Carolina)
Manny is the son of Kansas head coach Les Miles and arrives in Lawrence after throwing for 55 yards on three completions over three years at North Carolina.
34. Gunnar Hoak, Ohio State (from Kentucky)
Hoak has connections to Ohio State after his dad (Frank) and uncle (Fred Pagac) played for the Buckeyes. The Ohio native left Lexington after completing 13 of 26 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns in three years. He should provide depth behind Justin Fields this fall.
33. Sawyer Smith, Kentucky (from Troy)
With Gunnar Hoak transferring to Ohio State, Smith should immediately push for the backup job behind Terry Wilson. The Florida native started seven games for Troy in 2018 and finished the year with 1,669 passing yards and 14 scores and added 191 yards on the ground.
32. Keon Howard, Tulane (from Southern Miss)
With Justin McMillan entrenched as Tulane’s starter, Howard is likely to slide into the backup role for 2019. He threw for 1,564 yards and nine touchdowns and added 331 yards on the ground in two years at Southern Miss (2016-17). File Howard's name away as one to remember for 2020.
31. Brett Kean, Charlotte (from USF)
Kean is slated to battle Chris Reynolds and Evan Shirreffs for the starting job this fall for new coach Will Healy. Over the last three seasons at USF, Kean received playing time in 17 games and accounted for 333 passing yards and three touchdowns over 40 completions.
30. Patrick O’Brien, Colorado State (from Nebraska)
Collin Hill is expected to start under center for Mike Bobo’s team this year, but O’Brien’s development is worth monitoring. He ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2016 signing class and played in four games at Nebraska the following year, connecting on 18 throws for 192 yards.
29. Layne Hatcher, Arkansas State (from Alabama)
Logan Bonner is slated to open fall practice as the frontrunner to replace Justice Hansen, but Hatcher’s development is worth monitoring. He had a prolific high school career, which included 15,483 passing yards and 185 scores through the air.
28. Tristan Gebbia, Oregon State (from Nebraska)
Gebbia ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2017 signing class and transferred to Oregon State after Adrian Martinez won the starting job at Nebraska last fall. He’s likely to work as the backup behind Jake Luton this season.
27. McLane Carter, Rutgers (from Texas Tech)
It’s no secret Rutgers needs more out of its passing game. Over 12 games in 2018, the Scarlet Knights threw for only five touchdowns, tossed 22 picks and averaged 132.2 passing yards a game. Artur Sitkowski is slated to start this fall, but Carter provides an experienced backup or starter if necessary. Carter spent 2016 at Tyler Junior College and threw for 677 yards and four touchdowns over the next two years with the Red Raiders.
26. Ty Storey, WKU (from Arkansas)
New WKU coach Tyson Helton has five candidates vying to start this season. Steven Duncan is the early frontrunner, but Storey – a transfer from Arkansas – will have a chance to make a case for the starting nod in fall practice. The Arkansas native spent four years with the Razorbacks, competing in 15 contests and throwing for 1,587 yards and 11 scores.
25. Alex Hornibrook, Florida State (from Wisconsin)
James Blackman is expected to start for Willie Taggart’s team, but Hornibrook is a key addition since Florida State doesn’t have much depth at quarterback.
23/24. Mike Beaudry, UConn (from West Florida)/Micah Leon (from NC State)
Leon did not receive a snap during his two years at NC State, while Beaudry led West Florida to a 10-4 record with 3,215 passing yards in 2017. With David Pindell out of eligibility and Marvin Washington transferring, Beaudry and Leon will compete with Steven Krajewski for the starting nod.
22. Ross Bowers, Northern Illinois (from California)
Bowers was brought in to push starter Marcus Childers after Northern Illinois averaged only 20.1 points a game in 2018. The Washington native started 13 games at California and accounted for 3,039 yards and 18 touchdowns to 12 interceptions as the No. 1 quarterback in 2017.
21. Jack Tuttle, Indiana (from Utah)
Indiana coach Tom Allen has a capable trio – Peyton Ramsey, Michael Penix or Tuttle – to choose from at quarterback this fall. Tuttle – a native of California – transferred to Indiana after spending one year at Utah. The former four-star prospect has the arm and accuracy to help the Hoosiers stretch the field more in 2019. If we knew Tuttle was going to start, he would rank higher on this list.
20. Tom Stewart, Rice (from Harvard)
Stewart is an intriguing addition for coach Mike Bloomgren. The Texas native played from 2015-18 at Harvard and threw for 1,974 yards and 15 touchdowns to five picks in that span. He’s competing with redshirt freshman Wiley Green for the starting nod this offseason.
19. Alex Delton, TCU (from Kansas State)
TCU has a wide-open quarterback battle set to unfold in fall practice. Michael Collins, Max Duggan, Justin Rogers and Delton are the frontrunners to take the first snap of 2019. Delton arrived in Fort Worth after four years at Kansas State. The Kansas threw for 1,202 yards and five scores over 96 completions, but his strength is as a runner. Delton ran for 868 yards and 11 touchdowns in his K-State career.
18. Quinten Dormady, Central Michigan (from Houston)
Central Michigan will be the third FBS stop in Dormady’s collegiate career. He started his career at Tennessee and played in 16 games from 2015-17. During that three-year window with the Volunteers, Dormady threw for 1,282 yards and seven touchdowns to six picks. He worked as a reserve behind D’Eriq King at Houston last year. Dormady should start for new coach Jim McElwain this fall.
17. Brandon Peters, Illinois (from Michigan)
Peters is a pro-style quarterback, so it will be interesting to see how Illinois’ offense adapts (provided he wins the job) after AJ Bush was more of a running threat in 2019. With M.J. Rivers transferring after spring practice, coach Lovie Smith lacked experience and a proven option at quarterback. Peters checks off both boxes. The Indiana native played in 10 games for the Wolverines from 2017-18 and connected on 58 of 110 throws for 680 yards and four scores to three picks. Peters is expected to compete with freshman Isaiah Williams for the starting job.
16. Tate Martell, Miami (from Ohio State)
N’Kosi Perry seems to hold a slight edge in Miami’s quarterback battle, but Martell and Jarren Williams will push for the job again in fall practice. The Las Vegas native ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2017 signing class and used a redshirt in his first year on campus. Martell was utilized as a change-of-pace option with the Buckeyes in 2018 and rushed for 128 yards and two scores over 22 carries. He also connected on 23 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown. If Martell edges Perry for the starting job, the sophomore should be inside of the top 10. The guess (for now) is Perry takes the bulk of the snaps for the Hurricanes this fall.
15. Zach Smith, Tulsa (from Baylor)
Tulsa has struggled to find the right answer at quarterback over the last two years, but Smith should provide a needed boost in 2019. The Texas native was recruited to Baylor by Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery and played in 18 games from 2016-17. In his two years of playing time with the Bears, Smith completed 56 percent of his throws for 2,997 yards and 21 touchdowns. Considering his familiarity with Montgomery and the offensive scheme, Smith is poised to rank among the AAC’s top newcomers this fall.
14. Riley Neal, Vanderbilt (from Ball State)
Kyle Shurmur leaves big shoes to fill, but Neal provides an experienced option for coach Derek Mason. In 34 games at Ball State, Neal threw for 7,393 yards and 46 touchdowns to 25 picks. He also added 1,363 yards and 15 scores on the ground.
13. Tommy Stevens, Mississippi State (from Penn State)
Second-year coach Joe Moorhead is looking for more punch out of his offense after the Bulldogs averaged only 19.3 points a game in SEC contests last fall. Help could come in the form of Stevens, who spent two years at Penn State learning under Moorhead. The senior will push Keytaon Thompson for the job this fall, but his familiarity with the offense and upside as a passer could give him the edge to start. Stevens recorded 872 total yards on offense during his career with the Nittany Lions but never attempted more than 27 passes in a single season. If Stevens wins the job, he needs to be higher on this list.
11/12. Ben Hicks, Arkansas (from SMU)/ Nick Starkel (from Texas A&M)
The additions of Hicks and Starkel have upgraded the quarterback room in Fayetteville for 2019. Hicks spent the last four years at SMU, including the final three under Morris. He threw for 9,081 yards and 71 touchdowns in his career with the Mustangs. Starkel threw for 1,962 yards and 15 touchdowns in two years of playing time at Texas A&M. The junior has an edge in talent and upside than Hicks. How quickly can he get acclimated to Chad Morris’ offense?
10. Austin Kendall, West Virginia (from Oklahoma)
Kendall is making the rare intraconference move from Oklahoma to West Virginia. The North Carolina native ranked as one of the top-10 quarterback recruits in the 2016 signing class and threw for 265 yards and three scores over 28 completions at Oklahoma during eight appearances.
9. Gage Gubrud, Washington State (from Eastern Washington)
If Gubrud wins the job, he needs to be closer to the top five on this list. The Oregon native arrives in Pullman after spending the last four years at Eastern Washington. Gubrud threw for 5,160 yards and 48 touchdowns and ran for 606 yards and five scores in a prolific 2016 campaign. He finished his career at EWU with 9,984 yards and 87 passing scores and accounted for 1,042 yards and 13 scores on the ground. Mike Leach had plenty of success with a transfer quarterback (Gardner Minshew) last season. Gubrud has all of the tools necessary to put up big numbers in this system.
8. Shane Buechele, SMU (from Texas)
Sam Ehlinger is entrenched as the starter in Austin, so Buechele utilized the grad transfer route to maximize his final two years of eligibility. The Texas native started all 12 games for the Longhorns in 2016 and posted solid numbers in his freshman campaign. Buechele threw for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns and added two more scores on the ground that season. He started seven games as a sophomore and played in two contests as the backup to Ehlinger in 2018. With a standout receiving corps in place, Buechele could post huge numbers in coach Sonny Dykes’ offense.
7. Josh Jackson, Maryland (from Virginia Tech)
Jackson was poised to emerge as one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks last fall but a leg injury against Old Dominion in September ended his 2018 campaign. As a freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the Hokies and threw for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns to just nine picks. He also contributed 324 yards and six scores on the ground. Jackson should be a good fit in coach Mike Locksley’s offense.
6. Brandon Wimbush, UCF (from Notre Dame)
With Darriel Mack Jr. sidelined indefinitely due to a broken ankle, all signs point to Wimbush taking the first snap for UCF in 2019. The Notre Dame transfer inherits a high-powered offense and has a skill set that coach Josh Heupel will maximize. Wimbush is a good runner (1,155 yards and 16 TDs at Notre Dame) and has a strong arm to connect on big plays downfield.
5. Hunter Johnson, Northwestern (from Clemson)
Northwestern is losing a solid quarterback in Clayton Thorson, but coach Pat Fitzgerald’s team may have an upgrade waiting in the wings. Johnson – a former five-star prospect with a big-time arm – should help the Wildcats stretch the field more in 2019. He played in seven games for Clemson in 2017 and completed 21 of 27 throws for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
4. Jacob Eason, Washington (from Georgia)
Replacing a four-year starter at quarterback is never easy. Jake Browning closed his career in Seattle by leading Washington to a Pac-12 title, so Eason has a high bar to clear in his first season. As a true freshman at Georgia in 2016, Eason threw for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns and was poised to take a step forward as a sophomore in ’17. However, he suffered a knee injury in the opener and lost the starting job to Jake Fromm. Eason has room to improve, but he also has plenty of arm strength, which should allow the Huskies to push the ball downfield more in 2019.
3. Kelly Bryant, Missouri (from Clemson)
The transition from Drew Lock to Bryant should be a seamless one for coach Barry Odom. Bryant seems to have already won over the locker room with his leadership and should push Missouri to be a top 25 team this fall. Bryant started just one season at Clemson, but he pieced together a brilliant 2017 campaign. Over 14 starts, the South Carolina native threw for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns and completed 65.8 percent of his throws. Bryant also added 665 yards and 11 scores on the ground.
2. Justin Fields, Ohio State (from Georgia)
Dwayne Haskins leaves big shoes to fill in Columbus, but Fields should ensure Ryan Day’s offense won’t miss a beat in 2019. The five-star prospect in the 2018 signing class flashed potential in limited time at Georgia last season. He completed 27 of 39 throws for 328 yards and four touchdowns and added 266 yards and four scores on the ground.
1. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (from Alabama)
Hurts inherits a high-powered Oklahoma offense and has one of the nation’s best supporting casts at his disposal. The Texas native accounted for 71 overall scores and 7,602 total yards in three years at Alabama. He also showed improvement as a passer during his junior season.
(Photo credit Ohio State Department of Athletics)