The Transfer Tracker: Quarterback Musical Chairs

The transfer portal has proven to be a magical place—one where highly-regarded backup quarterbacks can, conceivably, pass into an alternate universe in which they become highly-touted starting quarterbacks.

Players who do not line up behind center obviously may also step into the mysterious vacuum, but their collective profile is nowhere near as high—thus, they are nowhere near as fun to track.

Apologies to all of my fellow linebackers and defensive backs.

In most cases, the goal, here, is to find a program devoid of comparable talent. Otherwise, you know, what’s the point? But, in the case of one Justin Fields—who kicked this whole thing off about a month ago—the skillset, pedigree and level of confidence were so high that he basically just said ‘to hell with it.’

Justin Fields Never Should’ve Gone To Georgia

His irreverence for Tate Martell was, conceivably, good news for Ohio State. It was bad news for Tate Martell, who went from challenging Fields indirectly in a pre-Rose Bowl interview to packing up his apartment over the span of about of a week.

Life comes at you fast.

Jalen Hurts entered the portal, which was no surprise. Austin Kendall joined him, which was a surprise. Those two things turned out to be related.

In the meantime, the rest of us are left to refresh our Twitter scrolls and monitor Instagram stories in an effort to keep up with what has essentially become the closest thing college football has ever had to free agency.

And if you, like me, find yourself staring at Reddit, thinking, “There has to be a better way to keep up with this,” I have excellent news. There is. Right here.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Quarterback Transfer Tracker.

Justin Fields

Old School: Georgia

New School: Ohio State

Fields was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback—and No. 2 overall player—in the 2018 class and would’ve started for no fewer than 100 other programs last fall.

Unfortunately for the Kennesaw, Ga., native, he chose to sign with his home state Bulldogs, where incumbent starter Jake Fromm—just a sophomore—was fresh off of a run to the national title game, and had absolutely no intentions of relinquishing his position as QB1.

In very limited action, Fields completed 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns, while watching Fromm lead Georgia within minutes of its second consecutive SEC Championship game.

After that game—and well in advance of the Sugar Bowl—the news that Fields was leaving Athens leaked, with Ohio State, Oklahoma and Florida State rumored as the favorites to secure his services.

The following day four-star 2019 quarterback Dwan Mathis flipped from Ohio State to Georgia, triggering the collective reaction of: 🤔

Fields proceeded to follow Tate Martell’s sister on Instagram and move to Columbus, which was equal parts hilarious and savage.

Tate Martell

Old School: Ohio State

New School: Miami

Despite bolds remarks in the week leading up to Fields’ eventual transfer to Ohio State, Martell ultimately responded to his new teammates arrival by stepping into the same transfer portal that the former Georgia quarterback had just stepped out of.

Martell flirted with West Virginia a bit, which got our friend Kyle Bratke very excited.

Ultimately, however, the Bishop Gorman (NV) product chose to take his talents to South Beach, which seems like a far more natural fit for his personality.

Jalen Hurts

Old School: Alabama

New School: Oklahoma

With Tathan Martell now at Miami, the path was cleared for Oklahoma to steal Jalen Hurts away from his former offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and Maryland—and that's just what Lincoln Riley & Co. have done.

The Hurts coup is yet another recruiting victory for the Sooners along what has been a truly remarkable run for the past month, and provides an ideal bridge from Kyler Murray to Spencer Rattler.

That being said, the Sooners will only have two scholarship quarterbacks—Hurts and redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai—in the rotation during spring ball, which is not ideal, and the expectations that Hurts will be walking into are sky-high.

Austin Kendall

Old School: Oklahoma

New School: West Virginia

For those of us caught by surprise when Austin Kendall unexpectedly entered his name into the transfer portal, the answer was made loud and clear yesterday when Jalen Hurts committed to Oklahoma.

Kendall found out about Hurts last week, well before the rest of us could guess the former Tide quarterback would be Norman bound, and understandably elected to bounce.

On Wednesday morning, ESPN reported that Oklahoma would block Kendall's transfer to any future opponent, but that didn't stick. Riley and the Sooners green-lit a transfer to West Virginia, which is where he enrolled on Thursday.

That's huge news for the Mountaineers, who were expected to be entering a bit of a rebuild period in 2019—and whose remaining quarterbacks showed no signs of life during WVU's bowl loss to Syracuse.

Brandon Wimbush

Old School: Notre Dame

New School: Central Florida

Notre Dame’s starter in 2017 returned as such in 2018, but it was a brief stay atop the depth chart.

After the first three games of the season, Ian Book stepped in, the Notre Dame offense transformed into something altogether more effective, and the writing was on the wall for Wimbush.

The Teaneck, N.J., native quietly hopped into the portal and reportedly considered Penn State, before ultimately deciding that Darriel Mack Jr. seemed like an easier win than Tommy Stevens, and off he went to Orlando, Fla.

Provided Wimbush can navigate a visit from Stanford followed by a road trip to (mighty) Pittsburgh, the path to UCF’s second make-believe national championship in three years appears relatively clear.

Ben Hicks

Old School: SMU

New School: Arkansas

The Quarterback Courtland Sutton Built is also on the move after a predictable downturn in production in 2018.

SMU’s Ben Hicks threw for 3,569 yards and 33 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in 2017, helping to lead SMU back to postseason in the process. But, with Chad Morris, Joe Craddock, Sutton and Trey Quinn all gone last season, things weren’t awesome on the Hilltop.

For that reason, among others, Hicks dove head first into the transfer portal, and there really only ever felt like one end destination for him: Fayetteville, Ark.

Hicks will reunite with Morris and Craddock—though not Sutton, sorry Ben—at Arkansas, where he can’t possibly play worse than any of the dudes who lined up behind center for the Razorbacks in ’18.

Ty Storey

Old School: Arkansas

New School: TBD

One of those Razorback quarterbacks was former four-star prospect Ty Storey, who will no longer be a Razorback quarterback moving forward.

To be fair, Storey showed flashes of decency. And, to be fair, there’s no guarantee that Hicks will be any better than he would’ve been in his second year under Morris and Craddock. But, in any case, he gone.

To where, exactly, is still anyone’s guess.

Gage Gubrud

Old School: Eastern Washington

New School: TBD

The fifth-year senior, was thought done after a season-ending toe injury this season. But it appears he could be in line for a sixth year of eligibility after losing most of two seasons to injury.

As is tradition, the Eastern Washington quarterback appears to be looking elsewhere for what will now be the grand finale of a prolific college career. And, as is tradition, Mike Leach appears to be interested in bringing in an experienced transfer quarterback.

Four Washington State assistant coaches, three wide receivers, the official Wazzu football account and a partridge in a pear tree are now following Gubrud on Twitter—so take that for whatever it’s worth.

Kelly Bryant

Old School: Clemson

New School: Missouri

Of course, we can’t forget about good ol’ KB just because he moved quicker than the rest of our beloved transfers.

Bryant lost his job to Trevor Lawrence—which seems like a decent decision by Dabo at this point—and elected to leave the program in September.

Last month, he landed at Missouri, which was a mistake on his part. Woo pig sooie.

Cameron Rising

Old School: Texas

New School: TBD

The one-time Oklahoma commit flipped to Texas last year in spite of the fact that Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechelle were both obviously returning to the top of the quarterback food chain and knowing that Newcastle, Okla. product Casey Thompson was also set to sign with the Longhorns.

Fast forward little more than a year, and Rising is now an unknown commodity in Austin after having entered into the transfer portal. He visited Utah last weekend and is drawing interest from Washington State and Oregon, to name a few.

Word on the street is that head coach Tom Herman is still intent on convincing him to return to Texas before Sunday.

Shane Buechele

Old School: Texas

New School: TBD

Shane's pretty late to the party—and it probably cost him a job at Arkansas—but, nonetheless, he has finally made his way into the transfer portal.

With Buechele and Rising out of the way, however, it looks like Texas will keep Casey Thompson, who has suddenly shot up the depth chart to QB2 by default.

Buechele would have to enroll somewhere, like, right now in order to start the spring semester on time, but it doesn't look like he has any intention of doing that—and that's where things get a little weird.

Buechele will remain on scholarship at Texas during the spring, then transfer this summer, which will make him a graduate transfer, thus, making him eligible to play immediately this fall—provided he can overcome the learning curve and whatever the competition over a condensed period of time.

James Blackman

Old School: Florida State

New School: TBD

Just when we all thought it impossible, the Florida State quarterback room just got even messier with reports that James Blackman will enter the transfer portal.

Blackman started 12 games for the 'Noles as a freshman after Deondre Francois was lost for the season. He often looked overmatched, but generally showed promise. A year later, however, in spite of incessant struggles, he started just once for FSU in 2018.

A month ago it looks like Francois may be on the way out, but now it looks like Blackman will be the one hitting the road.

De’Andre Johnson

Old School: FAU

New School: TBD

The star of Netflix’s ‘Last Chance U’ signed with FAU for his redemption tail, but he faced a pretty serious plot twist, never making it to the top of the depth chart.

Johnson announced last week that he will leave the program and transfer elsewhere for his final two seasons of eligibility.

Last updated Jan. 18 at 8:57 AM CT

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