Hystorically, there’s nothing that raises a college football fan’s interest level in his or her team quite like quarterback news. It could be an injury status update, a depth chart battle, or perhaps the recruitment of a blue chip prospect. Now, with the Transfer Portal, that realm of quarterback interest has expanded.
The state of Florida is definitely in the middle of the intrigue with quarterback transfers. In fact, one could argue Florida is the current epicenter of the quarterback Transfer Portal world. Here’s a look at what Florida State, UCF, Florida and USF all went through, at least thus far, with quarterback roster moves via the Transfer Portal.
Florida State Seminoles, 5-7 in 2021
This is the most difficult of the four programs to figure out with quarterback, so let us get it out of the way now. First off, there’s redhot or stone cold returning quarterback Jordan Travis. Remember his perfect pass against Miami during the fourth and 14 play? Spectacular! Then again, he had too many “What the heck was that?” moments during the past two seasons to fully entrust that everything is fine with Florida State’s current quarterback depth chart. So, does losing a backup to the Transfer Portal impact the ‘Noles?
Transfer Portal Quarterback Lost: Chubba Purdy, Nebraska
Purdy came to FSU in 2020 from the state of Arizona. He never made a true impact on the Seminoles’ depth chart, and then headed to Lincoln, Neb. this off season. His loss is not necessarily the news, however.
Transfer Portal Quarterback Gained: None
The fact that FSU did not bring in a Transfer Portal signal caller is the more concerning issue. Well, that’s where the situation stands today, at least. Looks like the Florida State coaching staff is riding with Travis, which certainly could work out. Then again, if it does not, a lack of quarterback production this fall could lead to the FSU staff getting canned.
It’s year three in Tallahassee for Mike Norvell and his staff. Time to win. Do the Seminoles have the pieces around Travis to win eight or more games? That’s debatable, at best.
Travis’s statistics from 2021 leave much to be desired. He was 122/194, 62.9%, 1,539 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions through the air. As a runner, he’s more in his comfort zone. Travis accounted for 535 yards, 4.0 average, and seven touchdowns on the ground for the ‘Noles in 2021. That’s really good, especially when one considers FSU’s woeful run blocking for many stretches of the 2021 season. The uncertainty at quarterback brings up the following question.
Maybe FSU will still seek a quarterback transfer? There’s another in-state school (USF - see below) that did bring in a quarterback transfer despite bringing back their 2021 starter. So why not FSU at some point prior to the start of fall camp? With college football in 2022, just about anything is possible.
UCF Knights, 9-4 in 2021
UCF’s quarterback situation is also quite interesting. Player out, player in, plus an on-going quarterback battle with the incoming transfer, John Rhys Plumlee. While somewhat hard to read from afar, the UCF quarterback situation is honestly a two-horse race as the summer months are about to begin. First, however, there’s a key quarterback that’s left Orlando.
Transfer Portal Quarterback Lost: Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma
After a really good 2019 and 2020, there were many that thought Gabriel would absolutely explode in 2021. Nobody will ever know. After injuring his shoulder against Louisville in Game 3 of the 2021 season, Gabriel did not return to action. He later hit the Transfer Portal and ended up at Oklahoma with his old UCF Offensive Coordinator, Jeff Lebby.
With Gabriel’s departure, UCF has now apparently found its new quarterback?
Transfer Portal Quarterback Gained: John Rhys Plumlee, Ole Miss
Plumlee’s career at Ole Miss started well at quarterback, but he ended up moving to multiple positions. A dual-threat quarterback during his freshman season that rushed for 210 yards against eventual 2019 National Champion LSU, he ended up playing running back and wide receiver during his next two seasons in Oxford, Miss. Plumlee decided he wanted a true shot at playing quarterback, and here is playing under the direction of Head Coach Gus Malzahn, a coach that recruited Plumlee hard out of high school. Malzahn is also a coach that utilizes a scheme that Plumlee can flourish in because he likes a runner as much as a passer.
While Plumlee will battle 10-game starter Mikely Keene for the starting job, the spring game battle was won by Plumlee. He was on fire with his arm. It was already known that he could run. Keene played well, but the Transfer Portal appears to have sent UCF a new starting signal caller for 2022.
Florida Gators, 6-7 in 2021
Point blank, Florida’s quarterback production needs a step up. Nobody thought that the Gators would continue right where Heisman finalist Kyle Trask left off after his 4,283 yards, 68.9%, 43 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2020, but last year left much to be desired. That’s why there is a chance that a transfer could end up helping the Gators in 2022.
Transfer Portal Quarterback Lost: Emory Jones, Arizona State
After throwing 19 touchdown passes, but also 13 interceptions, Jones decided to take his talents elsewhere after spring ball concluded. He’s headed to the desert to play for the Sun Devils, and that is probably a good thing for all parties involved.
With newly hired Head Football Coach Billy Napier needs to find a way for third-year quarterback Anthony Richardson to take the reins and be the signal caller. Well, at least that was the prevailing thought in Gainesville, Fla. There’s also the Transfer Portal addition to discuss, but we shall get to that young man in a moment.
Richardson’s rare athleticism, coupled with a 6’4”, 235-pound frame, would make one think he’s an edge defender, perhaps a linebacker. Nope. He’s a quarterback. With the speed to run by players that are 180-pounds, Richardson’s potential in a read option or run-pass option scenario, play after play, is hard to ignore. Now, the bigger question.
Is Richardson all-in on learning the Florida playbook and truly taking over the leadership role of the offense? If yes, the transfer in question is going to have a hard time hitting the turf in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Richardson’s talent is going to be difficult to surpass regardless, but if he’s dialed into being a top-notch quarterback, the sky’s the limit.
Transfer Portal Quarterback Gained: Jack Miller, Ohio State
After being one of the nation’s most sought after quarterback recruits in the class of 2020, Miller never made a start for the Buckeyes. With the writing on the wall as C.J. Stroud went on to have an excellent 2021 season, Miller headed to UF and will compete with Richardson moving forward.
Is he truly capable of being the starting quarterback? Well, his recruiting ranking was pretty good coming out of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral. Again, however, he did not start at Ohio State. In fact, Miller only attempted 16 passes during his two seasons in Columbus, Ohio. Therefore, there’s honestly not much to go on. There is one possible blessing here for the Florida faithful.
Miller is a pocket passer with a strong arm. That much can be learned just from watching his high school film. If for some reason Richardson falls flat on his face as the starter, Miller would be a change up for the Gators’ offensive needs. Then there is the possibility that he can at least be a ‘relief pitcher’ of sorts if Richardson gets banged up.
Afterall, Richardson is a runner. If he needs to come out for a few series due to injury, Miller’s passing prowess (alleged, at least) could help Florida pull off a victory. Time will tell.
USF Bulls, 2-10 in 2021
After being absolutely terrible the past two seasons, USF needed new blood in the quarterback room. Or did they? Well, we are all about to find out. This is a truly unique situation. Let’s start with the player that’s leaving first.
Transfer Portal Quarterback Lost: Cade Fortin, Arkansas
After throwing only one touchdown pass and three interceptions from the combined 2019-2021 seasons, it’s safe to say that Fortin did not make an impact in Tampa. Last season, he went 25/48 for 183 yards, 52.1%, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Maybe he was not being replaced, per se, but USF Head Football Coach Brad Scott still went to the Transfer Portal to find another player to compete with his returning starter at quarterback, Timmy McClain.
Transfer Portal Quarterback Gained: Gerry Bohanon, Baylor
Bohanon was beaten out by backup Blake Shapen this spring, and it led to Bohanon going the Transfer Portal route to complete his NCAA eligibility. It’s not like Bohanon was chopped liver either. Bohanon’s 2021 statistics are pretty good: 173/276 for 2,194 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Also, keep in mind that this quarterback was a starter for the team that won the Big XII Championship. He’s been under fire and delivered strikes when needed. He also chipped in 323 rushing yards and nine more touchdowns on the ground. His talent is being added to rising sophomore McClain, and it’s a potentially great quarterback battle.
McClain is a physical talent much like Florida’s Richardson. He’s electric with the football in his hands. Also like Richardson, he could play other positions if he so desired. Receiver or defensive back, no question, McClain’s speed and overall shake-and-bake twitchiness would allow him to make a transition to any of those spots. He’s the incumbent at quarterback though.
McClain’s 2021 passing numbers include 1,888 yards, 55.3%, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was a true freshman, so combined with a mediocre roster, that led to a lot of passing game issues and failures. A year later, maybe he’s ready to make a big step forward. Will McClain be able to hold on against the more accomplished Bohanon? Would him losing his job to Bohanon cause any civil unrest with current USF players?
Those are the types of risks that Scott and his staff apparently found okay to take. After winning a grand total of three games from the 2020 and 2021 seasons, yes, it’s understandable that Scott wants immediate results. Otherwise, let’s face it, Scott and his staff might get canned (much like FSU’s staff) if more wins are not secured during the 2022 football season.
With Bohanon coming in so late and not being a part of spring ball, that does place him behind McClain with terminology and the overall knowledge of the USF receiving corps. Still, he’s one heck of a player. Big pickup for USF. Let the quarterback battle in Tampa begin.