Pac-12 Having a Parade of Quarterback Transfers In and Out

Seven 2020 starters are among the 21 quarterbacks who have moved in or moved out of Pac-12 for 2021
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Cal fans might have been surprised that three of the Golden Bears scholarship quarterbacks decided in the offseason to transfer, but such movement is not unusual this year, as 21 quarterbacks have either transferred in or out of Pac-12 schools since the end of the 2020 season.

Every Pac-12 school except Stanford, Arizona State and USC had a quarterback leave or arrive via transfer since the end of the 2020 season. And USC (J.T. Daniels to Georgia) and Stanford (K.J. Costello to Mississippi State) had their opening-game starting quarterbacks from 2019 leave after last season, while Arizona State (Jack Smith to Central Washington) had a quarterback move in September 2020.

Cal should be happy that starting quarterback Chase Garbers has no intentions of leaving, because starting quarterbacks are on the move too. Three players who were the starting quarterbacks at Pac-12 schools in 2020 have transferred out – Oregon’s Tyler Shough to Texas Tech, Utah’s Jake Bentley to South Alabama and Arizona’s Grant Gunnell to Memphis. Four quarterbacks who were starters elsewhere in 2020 have  transferred to Pac-12 schools – Charlie Brewer, from Baylor to Utah; Jarrett Guarantano, from Tennessee to Washington State; Jordan McCloud, from South Florida to Arizona; and Patrick O'Brien, from Colorado State to Washington.

Brewer is the most significant addition in the Pac-12 and is capable making the Utes a title contender.  He backed up the hype by going 15-for-15 in Utah's spring game.

Garbers’ brother, Ethan, is one of three Pac-12 quarterbacks who have transferred to another Pac-12 school. Ethan Garbers, a freshman at Washington in 2020, is now at UCLA; Gunner Cruz has transferred from Washington State to Arizona, and Nick Moore went from Oregon State to Arizona.

Arizona, which changed head coaches, had five quarterbacks either leave or transfer in.

Why all the movement? Well, in recent years it has become more and more common for quarterbacks to switch schools, hoping to find a place where they will play and develop. This offseason is even more ripe for transfers for two reasons:

1. The 2020 season did not count against a player’s college eligibility so seniors and grad transfers can play another season.

2. The NCAA is expected to pass a rule that allows all first-time transfers to play immediately, without sitting out a season.

The scary thing is that the quarterback transfer parade may not be over, because more quarterbacks may want to go elsewhere when spring practices end and players can gauge their place on the depth chart.

There is also the outside possibility that a quarterback in the transfer portal will return to the school from which he is transferring – if that school will still have him.

Here are the quarterback comings and goings from each Pac-12 school and a brief description of the transferring quarterback.

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ARIZONA

OUT

Grant Gunnell: From Arizona to Memphis

Gunnell started four of the Wildcats five games in 2020 as a sophomore (he missed one with an injury). He completed 68.8 percent of his passes with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He ranked first in the Pac-12 in completion percentage in 2020 and fourth in passer rating. But Arizona fired head coach Kevin Sumlin after the season. Memphis went 8-3 under Ryan Silverfield in 2020, but the Tigers need a new quarterback after 2020 starter Brady White announced he will enter the 2021 NFL draft after becoming the Tigers' career leader in touchdown passes, passing yards and wins. White spent his freshman season at Arizona State.

Rhett Rodriguez: From Arizona to undecided

Rodriguez played in one game in 2020 as a redshirt junior for the Wildcat. He was 7-for-16 with 0 TDs and 2 interceptions.

IN

Jordan McCloud from South Florida to Arizona

McCloud is likely to be Arizona’s starting quarterback for new coach Jedd Fisch in 2021. McCloud started 10 games for South Florida as a redshirt freshman in 2019, and started seven of the eight games in which he played in 2020 as a third-year sophomore. In 2020 he completed 61.9 percent of his passes with 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also gained 215 yards rushing but lost 141 for a net of 74. He ranked third in the American Conference in completion percentage and sixth in passer rating.

Gunner Cruz: From Washington State to Arizona

The 6-5, 217-pounder saw action in one game for the Cougars as a redshirt freshman last fall, completing 5-of-7 passes for 34 yards and a touchdown in a 38-13 loss to USC.

Nick Moore: From Oregon State to Arizona

Nick Moore, the brother of former Oregon State and NFL quarterback Matt Moore, will be a walk-on at Arizona. He has yet to attempt a pass in a college game, starting at Eastern Washington before transferring to Oregon State, then Arizona.

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ARIZONA STATE

None

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CAL

OUT

Devon Modster: From Cal to undecided

Modster began his college career at UCLA, where he started two games as a redshirt freshman in 2017, completing 64.6 percent of his passes with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Modster was Chase Garbers’ backup the past two seasons at Cal. He started three games for Cal in 2019, going 1-2 in those three games, and he completed 50.8 percent of his passes with 5 TDs and 5 interceptions for the season. He attempted just one pass (an incompletion) as a redshirt senior in 2020.

Jaden Casey: From Cal to undecided

Jaden Casey was Cal’s highest-rated recruit in the class of 2020, according to 247 Sports, but he did not see action as a freshman in 2020.

Spencer Brasch: From Cal to undecided.

Spencer Brasch was Cal’s third-string quarterback as a true freshman in 2019, but he started one game, completing 9-of-25 passes for 71 yards with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception in a loss to Utah. He did not play as a sophomore in 2020.

IN

None

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COLORADO

OUT

Tyler Lytle: From Colorado to Massachusetts

Lytle was Colorado’s backup quarterback last season as a redshirt junior and played in two games, completing 4-of-7 passes for 13 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions. Massachusetts went 0-4 last season and 1-11 in 2019.

IN

J.T. Shrout from Tennessee to Colorado

Shrout is participating in Colorado’s spring practice and getting reps because starter Sam Noyer is not participating in the spring following offseason shoulder surgery. Shrout played in four games (no starts) for Tennessee in 2020 as a redshirt junior. He completed 57.1 percent of his passes with 4 TDs and 3 interceptions. He started one game as a redshirt freshman.

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OREGON

OUT

Tyler Shough From Oregon to Texas Tech

Tyler Shough, who started all seven games for Pac-12 champion Oregon in 2020, arrived at Texas Tech in time to participate in most of spring practice and is likely to be the Red Raiders’ starting quarterback in 2021. Shough led the Pac-12 in passer rating by a wide margin in 2020, but his playing time diminished in the Pac-12 championship game and the Ducks’ bowl-game loss to Iowa State. Anthony Brown, who had transferred from Boston College last offseason, saw his playing time increase in those two games, and he is the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback for the Ducks during the spring.

Cale Millen: From Oregon to Northern Arizona

Cale Millen, the son of former Washington and NFL quarterback Hugh Millen, never took a snap in his two seasons at Oregon.

IN

None

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OREGON STATE

OUT

Nick Moore: From Oregon State to Arizona (see Arizona above)

IN

None

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STANFORD

None

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UCLA

OUT

None

IN

Ethan Garbers: From Washington to UCLA

Ethan Garbers, the brother of Cal quarterback Chase Garbers, competed for the starting job as a true freshman at Washington in 2020, but lost out to redshirt freshman Dylan Morris and did not play in 2020. UCLA has returning starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who will be a senior in 2021, and backup Chase Griffin, who played a lot i 2020 and will be a sophomore next fall.

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USC

None

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UTAH

OUT

Jake Bentley: From Utah to South Alabama

Jake Bentley played in five games, including four starts, for Utah in 2020 as a grad transfer from South Carolina, where he had started 33 games. He completed 62.1 percent of his passes with 6 TDs and 6 interceptions in 2020. Bentley was replaced by Drew Lisk in the first half of the final game of the 2020 season, and Lisk led the Utes to a comeback win over Washington State. South Alabama returns 2020 starter Desmond Trotter.

IN

Charlie Brewer: From Baylor to Utah

A four-year starter at Baylor, Charlie Brewer represents an upgrade at the quarterback position at Utah. He left Baylor as the school’s career leader in completions while ranking second in career completion percentage (63.5) and career touchdown passes (65). As a junior in 2019, Brewer led Baylor to an 11-3 record, a berth in the Big 12 championship game, a Sugar Bowl berth and a final No. 13 ranking. The Bears slipped to 2-7 in 2020 under first-year head coach Dave Aranda, who had replaced Matt Ruhle. Brewer completed 67.1 percent of his passes in 2020 with 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Brewer is participating in Utah’s spring practice and has been proclaimed the clear No. 1 quarterback. He is the most significant addition to any Pac-12 team.

Ja’Quinden Jackson: From Texas to Utah

Jackson, who was ranked the nation's No. 34 recruit in the 2020 ESPN 300 and was Texas’ second-highest-rated recruit in its 2020 class, did not play as a true freshman at Texas in 2020. He is the second Texas quarterback to transfer to Utah in three years. Cameron Rising arrived from Texas in 2019 and was the Utes’ starting quarterback in the 2020 season opener as a sophomore before suffering a season-ending injury in that game.

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WASHINGTON

OUT

Ethan Garbers From Washington to UCLA (see description above with UCLA)

Jacob Sirmon: From Washington to Central Michigan

Jacob Sirmon is the nephew of Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon. He played in one game for Washington in 2020 as a redshirt sophomore and completed his only pass attempt for 9 yards. He saw limited action in five games in 2019.

IN

Patrick O’Brien: From Colorado State to Washington

Patrick O’Brien is a double transfer, starting at Nebraska before spending the past two seasons at Colorado State, then coming to Washington. He played in four games, including three starts, in 2020 for the Rams, splitting time with redshirt junior Todd Centeio. O’Brien completed 56.3 percent of his passes for 3 TDs and 2 interceptions in 2020, and he also ran for two scores. He made nine starts in 2019, completing 62 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Following the offseason departures of graduate student Kevin Thomson, Sirmon and Garbers, Washington was left with just two scholarship quarterbacks — redshirt freshman Dylan Morris, the returning starter, and incoming freshman Sam Huard — on its 2021 roster before O’Brien’s arrival.

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WASHINGTON STATE

OUT

Gunner Cruz: From Washington State to Arizona (see Arizona above)

John Bledsoe; From Washington State to undecided

John Bledsoe, a walk-on quarterback at Washington State and the son of former Washington State and NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe, never played in a game for the Cougars.

Will Heckman: From Washington State to undecided

Will Heckman attended Indiana State, New Mexico and junior college before coming to Washington State as a walk-on. He never attempted a pass for the Cougars.

IN

Jarrett Guarantano: From Tennessee to Washington State

Jarrett Guarantano started 32 games for Tennessee over the past four seasons, and he started seven of the Vols’ 10 games in 2020 before losing the starting job to freshman Harrison Bailey late in the season. Guarantano completed 62 percent of his passes in 2020 with 6 TDs and 4 interceptions for a Tennessee team that went 3-7. In his five seasons at Tennessee, Guarantano played for two different head coaches and four different offensive coordinators. And the Vols hired a new head coach after the 2020 season (Josh Heupel). Freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura started all four games for Washington State in 2020, but he has been suspended indefinitely after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Cover photo of Charlie Brewer by Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports

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