It was a domino that many could've foreseen with four extremely talented quarterbacks competing for one job but LSU's room is getting a little smaller. On Wednesday reports surfaced that LSU quarterback TJ Finley would be entering the NCAA Transfer Portal.
The news was first reported by Garland Gillen of Fox Sports in New Orleans and later confirmed at LSUCountry.
Because of the NCAA's one year transfer rule that allows an athlete to transfer and play right away, Finley has the opportunity to immediately compete for playing time wherever he chooses. In his lone season with the Tigers Finley started in five games, completed 57% of his passes for 941 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions.
Finley was in competition throughout the spring with veteran Myles Brennan, rising sophomore Max Johnson and true freshman Garrett Nussmeier. All received equal reps throughout the spring but with three players receiving so much playing time in 2020, it felt inevitable that one would be the odd man out.
Earlier this spring, Finley talked about the competition between the quarterbacks in great detail and how the group has grown closer over the last several months.
"We are very close as a unit. I feel like this [competition] is also building character in our quarterback room. We're very competitive, we compete with each other every day, we make jokes with each other about the grades that we get," Finley said. "At the end of the day, we're brothers. We're all pushing each other to be the best we each can be and that's one thing that coach Peetz brought into the quarterback room as soon as he stepped in the room. He told us it was going to be a very heated battle but at the end of the day we're all brothers and pushing each other to be the best we can be."
Throughout spring camp, Orgeron's message remained consistent that the decision on the starting job would not be decided until fall camp and that still appears to be the plan even with Finley out of the fold.
“I hope they’re not uneasy. I hope they’re just very competitive and I’m guessing it causes some nervousness. They know everything’s on the line every practice, everybody’s watching. But I think that’s the only fair way to do it. Now, there will come a time in camp where it's going to get a little tight and somebody's probably gonna be unhappy. That's just the way it is. That's the quarterback position,” said Orgeron.
At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, the Ponchatoula native showed immense promise in his five career starts but also made mistakes on the field with the ball. He figures to garner significant interest from top programs around the country and with the NCAA allowing that one time transfer to any school, it wouldn't be a bit surprising if he wound up somewhere in the SEC.
The competition now squarely seems to be set on Johnson and Brennan, two players who also showed growth throughout the spring after successful seasons in 2020. Brennan's of course was cut short due to the abdomen injury that cost him the final seven games of the season and opened the door for Finley and Johnson to get an opportunity as freshmen.
Johnson went 2-0 as a starter with wins over Florida and Ole Miss to close the season, which earned him first team reps. Surely the competition will be great this offseason between the two and now it appears more will be asked of the freshman Nussmeier as well.