Transfers are a big part of any college football season. And over the last few seasons, graduate transfers have become a bigger part of the offseason player movement landscape.
However, taking a transfer (graduate or four-year) isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. Graduate transfer quarterbacks were a mixed bag of success in 2014, as Cody Sokol (Louisiana Tech), Tyler Murphy (Boston College), Jameill Showers (UTEP), Andrew Hendrix (Miami, Ohio) and Blake Frohnapfel (UMass) turned in solid seasons. However, on the other side, Jake Heaps (Miami), Matt Joeckel (TCU), Brandon Connette (Fresno State), Jake Coker (Alabama) and Stephen Rivers (Vanderbilt) didn’t have much of an impact. And some quarterbacks (Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer) fall into the wait and see category.
Just because a team lands a transfer doesn’t equal success for the upcoming year. However, graduate transfer quarterbacks can have an instant impact for teams needing a new starter under center. How do the 12 graduate transfer quarterbacks stack up for 2015? Here’s a ranking of the passers based upon likely impact.
Note: This only includes quarterbacks landing at a new team for 2015.
Ranking College Football’s Graduate Transfer QBs for 2015
1. Vernon Adams, Oregon (from Eastern Washington)
Marcus Mariota leaves big shoes to fill in Eugene. Regardless of whether Adams or Jeff Lockie gets the nod under center, the Ducks will have a hard time replicating Mariota’s production in 2015. But even if there’s a slight drop in performance, Oregon’s offense is still going to be among the best in the nation. Adams was a dynamic player at Eastern Washington, throwing for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns and adding 1,232 yards and 11 scores on the ground. It may take Adams a few games to adjust, but he has the talent to rank among the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks by the end of 2015.
2. Everett Golson, Florida State (from Notre Dame)
Jimbo Fisher is three-for-three in starting quarterbacks at Florida State going in the first round of the NFL Draft. Golson probably won’t extend that streak to four, but the South Carolina native is a key addition as the Seminoles continue the process of replacing Jameis Winston this fall. Golson threw for 5,850 yards and 41 touchdowns and added 14 rushing scores during his two-year stint as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. Sean Maguire has the edge in experience in Florida State’s offense, but Golson is already a proven quarterback on the Power 5 Conference/FBS level.
Jim Harbaugh’s arrival should help Michigan’s offense take a step forward in 2015. The Wolverines can only go up after averaging only 20.9 points per game in 2014, and there’s a clear identity and direction now with Harbaugh at the helm. Rudock is a rare intra-conference transfer, as he left Iowa to use his final season of eligibility in Ann Arbor. The Florida native threw for 4,819 yards and 34 scores with the Hawkeyes and should start over Shane Morris in 2015.
4. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech (from Florida)
Louisiana Tech went the graduate transfer route last year and had success with former Iowa passer Cody Sokol. Driskel was regarded as a five-star recruit in the 2011 signing class and finished his Florida career with 3,411 passing yards and 23 scores. He also rushed for 552 yards and 23 touchdowns in four seasons of playing time with the Gators. Driskel didn’t quite match his recruiting hype at Florida, but he’s landed in a good situation at Louisiana Tech for the 2015 season.
5. Maxwell Smith, San Diego State (from Kentucky)
Shoulder injuries sidelined Smith’s career at Kentucky, but the California native has a good opportunity to thrive at San Diego State in 2015. In three years with the Wildcats, Smith threw for 3,070 yards and 21 scores to just nine interceptions. The senior finished spring at the top of San Diego State’s quarterback depth chart.
Related: San Diego State Ranks No. 68 in Athlon's 2015 College Football Rankings
6. Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh (from Tennessee)
Chad Voytik was solid in his first full year as the starter in 2014, throwing for 2,233 yards and 16 scores to just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 466 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. Peterman transferred to Pittsburgh after three years at Tennessee and was recruited by Panthers’ offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to Knoxville in 2012. Peterman’s familiarity in this scheme should help, but Voytik has the edge to start.
7. Daxx Garman, Maryland (from Oklahoma State)
Maryland is the third stop in Garman’s collegiate career. The Texas native redshirted in his only season at Arizona (2011) and spent the next three years at Oklahoma State. Garman played in nine games for the Cowboys in 2014, throwing for 2,041 yards and 12 scores. Garman has a strong arm and connected on 19 passing plays of 30 yards or more last season. With likely starter Caleb Rowe returning from injury, Garman is a good backup plan for coach Randy Edsall.
Related: Maryland Ranks No. 57 in Athlon's 2015 College Football Rankings
New coach Tom Herman should feel good about his starter (Greg Ward), but Schulz is a nice insurance option. The Wisconsin native played in eight games at Utah and started three contests in 2013. Schulz threw for 1,008 yards and six scores that season, including a 347-yard performance against Washington State.
9. Trey Anderson, FIU (from Pittsburgh)
FIU’s offense is looking for a spark after ranking 98th nationally in scoring last year. Youth at the quarterback spot had a lot to do with the offensive woes, but there’s hope for improvement with Alex McGough having another offseason under his belt. Anderson played in eight games during his Pittsburgh career and completed 25 of 53 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown to three interceptions.
10. Greyson Lambert, Virginia to ?
Lambert could move a few spots up on this list depending on his transfer destination. In two years with the Cavaliers, he threw for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns but also tossed 13 interceptions and completed 55.7 percent of his throws. Lambert started nine of Virginia’s 12 games in 2014.
Bellomy played sparingly in his Michigan career and made only one appearance in 2014. The Texas native was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and will compete with Blake Bogenschutz and Austin Robinson for the starting job. Bellomy is a dual-threat option for coordinator Kevin Brown.
12. Josh Grady, Florida (from Vanderbilt)
Grady completed only 3 of 7 pass attempts for 27 yards during his three years of playing time at Vanderbilt. The Florida native also received snaps at receiver and finished his career in Nashville with seven catches for 89 yards. The Gators need depth at the quarterback spot, and first-year coach Jim McElwain plans to use the Florida native under center – and not at receiver – in 2015. Grady is likely slated to be the No. 3 quarterback for McElwain this year.