Examining which JUCO QBs will make the biggest impact this fall
Finding or developing a quarterback is no easy task for any college football coach. This position is one of the hardest to evaluate in high school, and as evidenced by the recent wave of departures, quarterbacks often transfer early in their career in search of more playing time. While developing a quarterback through the high school ranks is the preferred option for coaches, the junior college level presents quick-fix options and players who were often overlooked in the recruiting process. Terry Wilson at Kentucky and Bryce Perkins at Virginia were two JUCO quarterbacks that made this list last season and had a big impact on their team in 2018. The junior college level always produces a handful of impact transfers each year, and the quarterback position has a handful of intriguing names back on the scene in 2019. Thomas MacVittie at Kansas, Gresch Jensen at Texas State and Malik Henry at Nevada are just a few of the junior college quarterbacks expected to make an impact in 2019.
Which junior college quarterbacks will make the biggest impact in 2019? Here’s a look at 12 who could make an impact this fall:
CFB's Top 12 Impact JUCO Transfer Quarterbacks for 2019
Andrew Brito, UMass
New coach Walt Bell inherits a UMass offense losing its top two quarterbacks from last season in Andrew Ford and Ross Comis. Senior Michael Curtis returns, but Brito will have a chance to win the job in fall practice. The New Jersey native spent the last two years at College of the Canyons and threw for 3,071 yards and 30 touchdowns as a freshman in 2017.
Jordon Brookshire, San Diego State
San Diego State isn’t going to drastically change its offense away from the run, but coach Rocky Long and coordinator Jeff Horton are promising a few tweaks for 2019. Ryan Agnew leads the race to start under center after throwing for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns to six picks last fall. Brookshire spent just one year at Laney Community College, throwing for 2,181 yards and 22 touchdowns. He ended spring as the backup to Agnew.
Messiah deWeaver, Old Dominion
The Monarchs opened spring practice with a wide-open battle to replace Blake LaRussa at quarterback. Steven Williams returns after a redshirt year, but coach Bobby Wilder has two junior college prospects – deWeaver and Stone Smartt – in the mix for snaps. deWeaver – a former Michigan State quarterback – arrived in Norfolk after leading East Mississippi Community College to the NJCAA national championship in 2018. The Ohio native finished the ’18 season by throwing for 1,735 yards and 10 scores and adding 110 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Malik Henry, Nevada
Henry is the biggest name on this list. The California native ranked as the No. 49 prospect by the 247Sports Composite coming out of high school and committed to Jimbo Fisher at Florida State as part of the 2016 signing class. Henry spent one season in Tallahassee and transferred to Independence Community College prior to the 2017 season. After spending two years at the junior college level, Henry was added as a walk-on for the 2019 campaign at Nevada. In the team’s spring game, Henry completed 16 of 28 passes for 211 yards.
Bailey Hockman, NC State
Hockman remained in the ACC after deciding to transfer from Florida State prior to the 2018 season. The Georgia native ended up in Raleigh after a one-year stint at Hutchison Community College in ’18. Hockman did not play at the junior college level but was regarded as a four-star prospect out of high school. He will compete with Ty Evans, Matt McKay and Devin Leary for the starting job in fall camp.
Gresch Jensen, Texas State
New coach Jake Spavital’s background on offense should immediately help a Texas State unit that averaged only 19.8 points a game in 2018. Additionally, help is on the way from the 2019 class in the form of Jensen, who comes to San Marcos after a year at Fullerton College. The Washington native threw for 2,330 yards and 16 scores and added 289 yards and six rushing touchdowns last season. Jensen also threw for 2,531 yards and 20 touchdowns as a freshman at Montana under current Texas State offensive coordinator Bob Stitt in 2017.
Randall Johnson, MTSU
Replacing Brent Stockstill won’t be easy, but coordinator Tony Franklin has a couple of options vying to replace the prolific four-year starter. Asher O’Hara – a JUCO addition from 2018 – is considered the frontrunner, with Chance Nolan and Chase Cunningham also battling for time in the spring. Johnson will join the mix this summer after two years at Reedley College. He threw for 2,832 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 797 yards and 14 scores in 2018.
Thomas MacVittie, Kansas
Kansas has not finished higher than eighth in the Big 12 in passing offense over the last nine seasons. New coach Les Miles inherits a quarterback room that threw for 18 touchdowns to four picks last fall but lost leading passer Peyton Bender (1,894 yards). MacVittie – a former Pitt quarterback – comes to Lawrence after spending the 2018 season at Mesa Community College. In his only year at the junior college level, MacVittie threw for 1,064 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Jai’ave Magalei, Louisiana
With one of the deepest backfields in the nation at his disposal, second-year coach Billy Napier will build the 2019 Ragin’ Cajuns offense around the ground game. However, with last year’s starting quarterback Andre Nunez out of eligibility, Napier has to settle the battle under center this fall. Levi Lewis played in all 14 games last season, connecting on 37 of 59 passes for 585 yards and seven scores. He will be pushed by Magalei, who arrives in Lafayette after throwing for 1,811 yards and 19 touchdowns at Mount San Antonio College.
Devon Modster, California
Modster didn’t have to go far to find a new FBS home after transferring from UCLA in September. The California native transferred to Palomar College for the remainder of the 2018 season and landed in Berkeley with two years of eligibility remaining. Modster played in five games with the Bruins in 2017, recording 671 passing yards and four scores on 51 completions. He heads into fall practice behind Chase Garbers for the starting job.
Tylan Morton, South Alabama
After spring practice, Cephus Johnson and Desmond Trotter have the inside track to start for second-year coach Steve Campbell in 2019. Morton participated in spring ball and will have another attempt to push for the starting job in the fall. The Georgia native threw for 1,568 yards and 12 touchdowns at Hinds Community College in 2018 and finished his JUCO career with 3,131 total yards.
Lowell Narcisse, UTSA
Generating improvement on offense is the top offseason priority for coach Frank Wilson. UTSA averaged only 14.2 points a game and 3.9 yards per play last season. Additionally, the Roadrunners utilized four quarterbacks in 2018, with that group connecting on 50.5 percent of their throws and just nine scores. Narcisse – a former LSU quarterback – arrives in San Antonio after spending the 2018 season at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. During his only year at the junior college level, Narcisse threw for 506 yards and three scores and added 192 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. The Louisiana native ranked as a four-star recruit out of high school. Narcisse has some ground to make up in fall camp, as Frank Harris ended the spring as the No. 1 quarterback.
Other JUCO Transfer QBs to Watch in 2019
Stetson Bennett, Georgia
Jacob Free, Troy
Brandt Hughes, New Mexico
David Moore, Central Michigan
Stone Smartt, Old Dominion
(Thomas MacVittie photo courtesy of @KU_Football)