Although spring practices across college football were canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, several programs had already begun their workouts before the pandemic took hold of the country. The Northwestern Wildcats were among those able to get a handful of crucial reps in and even received a prized transfer before workouts were stopped.
Before Northwestern halted all activities, the school announced that quarterback Peyton Ramsey was transferring from Indiana. And while Ramsey had made a name for himself with the Hoosiers, he was set to be part of a quarterback rotation that included Michael Penix Jr. and Jack Tuttle.
With the Wildcats, Ramsey has a good chance to take the reigns of a team that struggled mightily at the position last season. Here are five reasons why Ramsey may already be QB1, even though the Wildcats had their spring session cut short.
In three seasons at Indiana, Ramsey played in 31 games, making 23 starts. He went 9-14 as the starter for the Hoosiers but also led the team to some wins in relief of an injured Penix. Last season, Ramsey helped the Hoosiers reach the Gator Bowl, their first postseason appearance since 2016. He's plenty familiar with the Big Ten and has had some success (4-13 as the starter) against teams in the conference.
2. He's got the numbers to back it up
Ramsey has completed 66.5 percent of his career pass attempts for 6,581 yards and 42 touchdowns. He's thrown 23 interceptions, but just five came last year, and his career 134.3 passer rating is impressive. He can also make things happen with his legs when he needs to with 832 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Ramsey's strong arm, accuracy, mobility, and decision-making are the all-around package that the Wildcats need under center at the moment.
3. He's one of the Big Ten's top signal-callers
Last year, Ramsey finished second in the Big Ten in completion percentage (68.0), fourth in yards per attempt (8.2), fifth in passer rating (147.7), seventh in both completions (204) and touchdown passes (13), and eighth in passing yards (2,454). It's hard to find a quarterback who finishes in the top 10 of so many categories, but that's what Northwestern now has with Ramsey on board.
4. The Wildcats want fresh talent for their new offensive coordinator
When Northwestern hired Mike Bajakian to be its new offensive coordinator, it created a new sense of optimism amongst the Wildcat faithful. Especially when you consider that the Wildcats ranked 127th in the FBS in both total and scoring offense in 2019. Bajakian has worked extensively with quarterbacks throughout his career. And when you consider the skill set that Ramsey brings to the table, it makes all of the sense in the world to make him the leader of Northwestern's new-look offense come September.
5. Ramsey is an upgrade over other QBs on the roster
Ramsey's 2019 numbers alone were practically double of those posted by all of Northwestern's quarterbacks. Between TJ Green, Hunter Johnson, Aidan Smith, and Andrew Marty, the Wildcats completed just 156 total passes for 1,404 yards and six touchdowns. NU posted an 84.5 team passer rating, averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt, and was tied for fifth in the FBS in interceptions (15). Ramsey brings consistency and a more proven track record, and, hopefully, that will produce better results for Northwestern's offense.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.