If you want to know how much of an impact the transfer portal has had on the college football landscape in a relatively short amount of time, look no further than the quarterback position. While it's certainly commonplace for quarterbacks to exhaust their eligibility or to choose to leave early to chase their NFL dreams, the introduction of the transfer portal has added another accelerant when it comes to roster turnover.
Consider that nearly two-thirds (62.1 percent) of the projected starting quarterbacks in the Power 5 conferences (plus BYU and Notre Dame) will be someone different compared to this time last year. There are always exceptions when it comes to this exercise, which is being done in late February as opposed to September when the season starts, but it doesn't change the fact that of these shifting starting signal-callers, nearly half of them (18 of the 41 projected new starters) can be classified as recent (happened since the 2021 regular season ended) transfers.
With more than half of the teams in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC (along with BYU and Notre Dame) dealing with a change at center, this turnover rate is a key stat looking ahead to the 2022 season.
Take a look at USC, for example. Not only do the Trojans have a new head coach in Lincoln Riley, but they also will have a new starting quarterback because the two that played the most snaps for them last season transferred. Kedon Slovis went to Pittsburgh while Jaxson Dart landed at Ole Miss. On top of that, USC's projected starter for 2022 is expected to be Caleb Williams, who was at Oklahoma last season and had replaced Spencer Rattler as the starter for the Sooners. Rattler also transferred (to South Carolina), leaving a spot open at Oklahoma, which is expected to be filled by former UCF starter Dillon Gabriel. So a change at one Power 5 school resulted in a domino effect that impacted four others (as well as UCF). And that's just one example.
So besides becoming familiar with all of the new quarterbacks across the country, another question comes to mind. Where are Power 5 teams finding their quarterbacks for the upcoming season?
For the seventh year in a row, Athlon Sports has tracked the roots of every projected starting quarterback in the Power 5 conferences, along with BYU and Notre Dame. Again, the operative word for this exercise is "projected," as it's entirely likely that there will be more transfers to come. (Arizona State's Jayden Daniels just recently entered his name in the transfer portal.) And some of these projected starters aren't as secure compared to others with a number of quarterback competitions expected to take place this spring that will probably carry over into fall camp.
There are 23 states as well as Washington, D.C., represented by this year's quarterback crop. Here are just a few of the observations that can be made from this exercise.
California remains king
It should come as no surprise that California produces the most projected Power 5 starting quarterbacks considering the state's size and reputation for high-quality talent. And for 2022, the Golden State is responsible for 11 of the 66 starting jobs included in this exercise. The only state in double digits, California's representation is six more than the next state, Georgia. However, it's three fewer than last season, but that's more nitpicking than anything.
California may be in the heart of Pac-12 country, but only three of its native sons play for programs in the conference. Instead, the state has exported quarterbacks across the landscape with at least one in each of the four other Power 5 conferences, including three in the Big Ten and two in the Big 12, as well as at Notre Dame.
And the Golden State certainly doesn't lack for star power either. Not only does the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Alabama's Bryce Young, hail from the state, but fellow finalist C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) does too.
West Coast bias?
California may certainly lead the way but it's not only the state out west that's producing quality quarterbacks. Arizona is tied for third with four signal-callers, followed close behind by Hawaii and Nevada with three each. Add in Utah's two and the western part of the U.S. is responsible for more than a third (34.8 percent) of the projected Power 5 (plus BYU and Notre Dame) starting quarterbacks.
Texas takes a tumble
To be fair, Texas is still second only to California when it comes to the number of projected Power 5 starting quarterbacks. But the Lone Star State was No. 1 in this department just two years ago (2020) and has since seen a gap open up between it and California with other states nipping on its heels.
Texas currently can claim five projected starters for the 2022 season with two of them being transfers. Two are slated to play for in-state programs (Texas, Texas A&M) with another nearby at Oklahoma State while the other two are in the Pac-12.
New kids on the block
Connecticut, Illinois and Utah can each claim two projected Power 5 starting quarterbacks after not having any in 2020. Additionally, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have representatives for the first time in at least four seasons. In fact, our nation's capital could end up with the biggest bragging rights by the end of this season as native son Caleb Williams has reunited with former head coach Lincoln Riley out at USC where he could win the Heisman in his first year as a Trojan.
Distance from home is clearly not an issue when it comes to Power 5 quarterbacks and playing destinations. That is certainly to be expected when three of them come from Hawaii, but they aren't the only ones who have some mileage on them, and that's not referring to their arms.
Sixteen quarterbacks are projected to start at schools that are more than 2,000 miles away from home. And if you stretch this range back to 1,400 that total grows to 22 or a third of all the starting Power 5 (plus BYU and Notre Dame) jobs. When it comes to the 10 that are the farthest from home, half of them are at Pac-12 schools. This includes one Hawaiian (Jayden de Laura, Arizona) as well as the aforementioned Williams, but also a trio of transfers that came from Texas (Cameron Ward, Washington State), Alabama (Bo Nix, Oregon), and Florida (Michael Penix Jr., Washington). Ironically, Nix goes from being a "hometown hero" when he was at Auburn to more than 2,500 miles away hoping for a fresh start with the Ducks.
In fact, the Pac-12 can boast the biggest footprint when it comes to their projected starting quarterbacks with an average distance of 1,600 miles for their 12 signal-callers, compared to 792 in 2021. The Big 12 and Big Ten both average more than 1,100 miles as well, compared to last season when the Big Ten (1,505 miles) was the only Power 5 conference that averaged more than 1,000. This makes sense when your inventory for both 2022 and '21 includes Maryland starter Taulia Tagovailoa, who is nearly 5,000 miles away from his Hawaii home.
10 Farthest from Home
Ewa Beach, HI
Michael Penix Jr.
Jayden de Laura
Inland Empire, CA
West Columbia, TX
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
San Diego, CA
Field generals in familiar territory
Not every projected Power 5 starting quarterback is at a school thousands of miles away. Eleven are on campus less than 200 miles from home and two are much closer than that. BYU's Jaren Hall is less than 10 miles from his hometown of Spanish Fork, Utah, while Florida's Anthony Richardson is the epitome of a "hometown hero," hailing from Gainesville.
What is interesting is that among the 10 quarterbacks that are closest to home four of them play for a school in a different state. All total, 12 projected Power 5 starters are at home state programs. The SEC claims five of these, which also is why the conference has the smallest average distance among its signal-callers, a mere 595 miles. The biggest outliers in the SEC are pair of newcomers (Rattler and Dart), as well as Young, the SoCal product-turned Heisman winner.
10 Closest to Home
Spanish Fork, UT
St. Louis, MO
Long Beach, MS
Sugar Hill, GA
Long Grove, IL
Projected 2022 Power 5 Conference* Starting QBs by State
Tyler Buchner (Notre Dame), Jalon Daniels (Kansas), Ryan Hilinski (Northwestern), Adrian Martinez (Kansas State), Tanner McKee (Stanford), Chance Nolan (Oregon State), Spencer Petras (Iowa), Cameron Rising (Utah), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson), Bryce Young (Alabama)
Quinn Ewers (Texas), Haynes King (Texas A&M), Brendon Lewis (Colorado), Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State), Cameron Ward (Washington State)
Malik Cunningham (Louisville), Riley Leonard (Duke), Bo Nix (Oregon), Paul Tyson (Arizona State)
Nicco Marchiol (West Virginia), Jack Plummer (California), Spencer Rattler (South Carolina), Kedon Slovis (Pittsburgh)
Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), Anthony Richardson (Florida), Jeff Sims (Georgia Tech), Jordan Travis (Florida State)
North Carolina (4)
Sam Hartman (Wake Forest), Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Garrett Shrader (Syracuse)
Stetson Bennett (Georgia), Zach Calzada (Auburn), Mike Wright (Vanderbilt)
Jayden de Laura (Arizona), Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma), Taulia Tagovailoa (Maryland)
Myles Brennan (LSU), KJ Jefferson (Arkansas), Will Rogers (Mississippi State)
Cade McNamara (Michigan), Donovan Smith (Texas Tech), Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)
Brennan Armstrong (Virginia), Connor Bazelak (Indiana), Sean Clifford (Penn State)
Will Levis (Kentucky), Tyler Van Dyke (Miami)
Aidan O'Connell (Purdue), Payton Thorne (Michigan State)
Hunter Dekkers (Iowa State), Max Duggan (TCU)
Tanner Morgan (Minnesota), Gavin Wimsatt (Rutgers)
New Jersey (2)
Tommy DeVito (Illinois), Devin Leary (NC State)
Jaxson Dart (Ole Miss), Jaren Hall (BYU)
Gerry Bohanon (Baylor)
Graham Mertz (Wisconsin)
Brady Cook (Missouri)
Casey Thompson (Nebraska)
Phil Jurkovec (Boston College)
Washington, D.C. (1)
Caleb Williams (USC)
West Virginia (1)
Grant Wells (Virginia Tech)
*List also includes BYU and Notre Dame