When Cal faces Colorado for the first time in three years next Oct. 23 in Berkeley, the Buffaloes will have a new quarterback.
Sam Noyer, who earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors last fall, has put his name into the transfer portal a week ago. The Buffaloes will go forward with either sophomore J.T. Shrout, a transfer from Tennessee, or returning freshman Brendon Lewis.
On Friday, June 11, Noyer announced he is transferring to Oregon State, so the Golden Bears may see Noyer when the Beavers come to Berkeley on Oct. 30.
He joins a crowded group vying for the starting quarterback job at Oregon State. Tristan Gebbia is back after starting the Beavers' first four games in 2020 before a hamstring injury ended his season. Chance Nolan started the final three games and he is back too.
Noyer had an unusual run at Colorado. Recruited as a quarterback, he was a backup for three seasons then was moved to safety in 2019 under first-year coach Mel Tucker. Although he started on defense that season, Noyer put his name in the transfer portal afterward, determined to find a school that would use him at quarterback.
Karl Dorrell arrived as the Buffaloes’ coach before last season and promised Noyer he would be given a chance to play QB, so the 6-foot-4, 220-pound stayed in Boulder.
He won the job and led CU to a surprising 4-0 start and 4-2 final record, passing for 1,101 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 208 yards and five scores.
Pac-12 coaches rewarded him with a spot on the all-conference second team. Noyer injured his shoulder early in the season, played through it during the schedule, then had off-season surgery and missed spring practice while rehabilitating.
“I’ve obviously enjoyed my time here at CU, and deciding to come back here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Noyer said in a press release from CU. “The (2020) season was everything I thought it would be and more.
“But at the same time, I didn’t finish the season well, partly due to my shoulder injury. So now I’m looking forward to a new opportunity and a fresh start, a place where they need a veteran quarterback who has the added experience of playing on both sides of the ball.”
Noyer said he’d prefer to play at a Power 5 school, perhaps even in the Pac-12, in order to “help make me better and give me an opportunity to fulfill my dream to play in the NFL.”
Dorrell said the parting was amicable.
“Sam came back when he didn’t have to after graduating over a year ago and helped the program greatly get back on the right track,” Dorrell said. “As a veteran, he offered us some stability and depth at the position.”
Lewis and Shrout shared first-team snaps during spring ball.
Lewis relieved Noyer during the Alamo Bowl and led Colorado to all three of its touchdowns in the 55-23 loss to Texas. Lewis threw for 95 yards and ran for 73 yards and a touchdown. He is the only quarterback on the roster with game experience at CU.
But Shrout has the most college experience. He played in eight games, starting one of them, during two seasons at Tennessee. He completed 37 of 69 passes for 494 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Colorado joins Oregon and Stanford among Cal’s 2021 opponents who will definitely have a new starting quarterback next fall.
Returning starters projected to retain those spots include Kedon Slovis at USC and Dorian Thompson-Robinson at UCLA.
Jayden de Laura returns as the starter at Washington State, but found off-the-field trouble when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in February. De Laura, a true freshman last season, was held out of spring practice.
Dylan Morris returns as Washington’s quarterback and had a strong performance in the Huskies’ spring game. But he will face competition from incoming freshman Sam Huard, who enrolled in time for spring practice and is one of UW’s top recruits in years.
Likewise, Oregon State’s Tristan Gebbia figures to be the starter, but he underwent offseason surgery for a hamstring injury and did not participate in spring ball.
Arizona’s quarterback picture under new coach Jedd Fisch is unclear, with Washington State transfer Gunner Cruz battling returnee Will Plummer, a starter twice last season.
Cover photo of Sam Noyer by Joe Camporeale, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo