- Kasim Hill, Brandon Peters and Malik Willis are a few under-the-radar quarterbacks in the transfer portal who could help reshape a team's outlook this upcoming season.
Yes, it’s June—which means we’re coming up on six weeks until fall camp starts at college football facilities across the country. We’re a month out from media days, from hearing dry quips out of Nick Saban and inspirational monologues from Dabo Swinney. And yet, even though the whole shebang that is the season seems like it’s bordering on soon, there are still more than a dozen quarterbacks languishing in the transfer portal.
The biggest names, of course, announced their new homes months ago. Justin Fields is at Ohio State, Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma. Tate Martell wound up at Miami, and Kelly Bryant finds himself at Missouri. But there are still several players with the talents to potentially reshape a team who haven’t yet chosen where they’ll play; three former four-star recruits and another six former three-star guys still have yet to settle. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of that list:
Kasim Hill: The former Maryland quarterback has been in the portal since February, though he remains on the Terrapins’ roster while he recovers from a November ACL tear. It was his second knee injury in two years, which is of more than a little concern, but Hill was able to take a redshirt his freshman year and thus will be a sophomore wherever he ends up. As for why he’s leaving Maryland, the short answer is Josh Jackson, the Virginia Tech transfer who put up 2,991 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions in his only full season (2017) in Blacksburg.
In 10 games last year, Hill completed 49.4% of passes for 1,083 yards and put up a not-so-stellar ratio of nine touchdowns to four interceptions. A dual-threat guy, Hill wasn’t so lucky rushing in 2018, when he took 40 attempts and wound up with -15 yards. So far, there’s been little word about where Hill might land or updates on his recovery; he’s barely six months out from a major knee injury.
Brandon Peters: The former four-star recruit who was on Michigan’s roster the last three seasons hasn’t been in the portal long. He announced on May 4 that he’d be leaving the Wolverines. Peters graduated from Michigan in the spring and will move on having appeared in just eight games for Jim Harbaugh’s team, which struggled offensively during Peters’s tenure. In 2017, as a sophomore, Peters completed 57 of 108 pass attempts for 672 yards, four touchdowns and two picks. He played only in spot duty last year, appearing in two games and attempting as many passes—one of which was an interception.
It’s understandable why Peters would choose to leave. He’s been buried behind Shea Patterson and this spring was overtaken by Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton—plus he’s automatically eligible to play in the fall. Wherever Peters lands, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining, and teams will remember his strong run at the end of 2017 when it seemed as if he might have a shot at the Michigan job long-term. Peters will want to start wherever he ends up, and he should be good enough to get that chance.
Alex Malzone: Malzone is another former Wolverine quarterback, though he predates Harbaugh; the 6’2”, 230-pounder committed to Brady Hoke. He’s also been gone from Ann Arbor for a year, having played the 2018 season for Miami-Ohio, attempting four passes and completing none. Once ranked the No. 12 quarterback in his class by Rivals.com, Malzone’s case at a new school won’t be easy to plead. A year ago, maybe he could have talked about the quarterbacks he was stacked behind, the fact that he couldn’t get a chance at Michigan because the offense was chaos. But then he spent a year at a mediocre MAC team, failed to steal the job from its four-year starter (that’s excusable), and then left without competing for the job that starter’s graduation left open.
Malik Willis: Willis went through the spring with Auburn, competing in a packed quarterback battle, before entering the portal in late May. He has two years of eligibility remaining after playing 12 total games for the Tigers in 2017 and ’18. Over those two seasons, he showed more with his feet than his arm. As a freshman, he rushed for 221 yards on 16 attempts, averaging 13.8 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown. He had another touchdown on the ground last fall, finishing with 88 yards on 12 attempts, for 7.3 yards per carry. Over those two falls, he attempted 14 passes, completing 11 for 69 yards and one touchdown.
Willis looked like the heir apparent to Jarrett Stidham as he served as his backup the past two years, but in the spring, freshmen Bo Nix and Joey Gatewood surpassed him. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn commented on his decision to AL.com on May 29: "We’ll be rooting for Malik to find the right situation for him,” the coach said. “But … he was a blessing to coach, and we’ll be rooting for him.”
Octavious Battle: Battle looked like the No. 3 quarterback for USF coming out of the spring, which explains his decision in May to test the transfer portal. But it hasn’t been all bad news for the redshirt freshman lately. Despite that position on the depth chart, he put up encouraging numbers in the Bulls’ spring game, completing 8 of 12 passes for 146 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Though Battle hasn’t put together much of a college résumé thus far, he was a three-star recruit out of Atlanta who tallied almost 7,000 yards in high school, and there will certainly be a few programs intrigued by his arm.
Manny Miles: Les Miles’s son has been in the transfer portal all spring, and this fact is most interesting not because of what Manny might offer his new team, but rather because his father doesn’t seem to be a huge supporter of this new way of doing business. “I think there’s a number of people that really are transferring,” Miles said on the Big 12 coaches teleconference in April, “not out of necessity … The ease of transfer, I don’t know that that’s—I think it’s wonderful for the player. I don’t know that it’s great for the coaches.”
At least one member of the Miles family, then, can benefit. Manny played his career at North Carolina, never cracking the top of the Tar Heels’ depth chart. He spent most of his time as a holder on placekicks, and after completing three of the five passes he’s attempted—for 55 yards and one touchdown—he’ll have one year of eligibility remaining wherever he lands.