College Football Transferring on the Rise

By: Wayne Mizell


on the left Hunter Johnson who transfer after 1 year. In the middle Jacob Eason transferred after 2 years. On the right Shea Patterson transferred after one year.

Wade Mizell, Editor

When a high-school football player is in his senior year, he has decisions to make: where to go to college, what does he want out of a football school, etc. Say you are a great Quarterback and you commit to a top school and you get beat out. But your dream was to play college football so you transfer to another school. And if you do this you will miss a year of eligibility.

This is happening to many players, and they are doing the exact same thing…transferring. Most fans would think, ‘Whatever; he wasn’t even good enough to play,’ but then the quarterback who beat him out gets hurt and the other quarterback who beat him out gets hurt Coaches don’t have the depth of great quarterbacks to lose players.

This is what coaches are calling a new area in college football. Notable high-school quarterbacks don’t even stay for their four years of eligibility.  According to Paul Myerberg of USA today, “There are only seven quarterbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision who fit the criteria. Just two, California’s Chase Forrest and TCU’s Grayson Muehlstein, play in a Power Five conference. Forrest has attempted 28 passes across six games; Muehlstein, once a three-star recruit from Decatur, Texas, has yet to make a single attempt through his first three seasons.”

“Another pair, Navy’s Garret Lewis and Army’s Luke Landon, play at service academies. One of the seven senior backups is headed for the starting role in his final season: Western Kentucky’s Drew Eckles is the Hilltoppers’ projected starter heading into fall camp,” stated Myerberg. These players haven’t ever played and have been loyal to the team.

Sometimes players benefit from leaving: “Kentucky may start Terry Wilson, who began his career at Oregon before taking a pit stop in junior college on the road to the Wildcats. Auburn starter Jarrett Stidham began his career at Baylor. Stanford transfer Keller Chryst is one of two contenders for the starting job at Tennessee, which in the past two years saw one of its former quarterbacks, Riley Ferguson, set school records as the starter at Memphis,” Myerberg stated. What he is saying is that their are benefits to transferring to a new school because of the ability to play college football.  

“Ohio State graduate transfer Joe Burrow is the favorite to start for LSU, one year after Ed Orgeron and the Tigers called on Purdue transfer Danny Etling as the starter. A former Florida transfer, Will Grier, is an All-America and Heisman Trophy contender at West Virginia. Once the future at Mississippi, Shea Patterson is now sits atop the depth chart at Michigan. Georgia transfer Jacob Eason is next in line under center for Chris Petersen at Washington,” said Myerberg. And the future of these players are being helped by the ability to still play for a top program.

Of course there are always two sides to a story. Coaches have to prepare to have a quarterback transfer, and that takes up time at one position while they might be weak at another. The fact is that coaches have to pay close attention to quarterbacks transferring because it is one of the most important positions on the field.

Myerberg adds that top coaches report change: “I think the culture has changed a little bit,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban. “There was a time when it was sacrilegious to transfer, to leave your team.” and others like Kirby Smart… “It’s trickling up to us. It’s happening in high school. They’re positioning in eighth and ninth grade. ‘Where can I go be the quarterback?’’

“It’s also true that transfers are up across the board, and not just at quarterback. There were 211 graduate transfers playing in the FBS in 2017, a drastic increase from the 117 such transfers in 2016 and the just 17 in 2011. But no other position embodies the transfer craze quite like quarterback, perhaps due to the overwhelming attention always paid to the position in the first place,” states Myerberg. Transfer are on the rise and quarterbacks are seeing a big rise because of the importance of the position.

In my opinion, I believe if you sign a letter saying that you have committed to that team, then you should not be able to leave after a year. It should be enforced that a player must wait it out at one school for some time. I understand why the players are choosing to transfer: if they want to make it to the NFL, they need playing time. However, coaches need backups when injuries happen–a very common thing in football–and if that does happen, then maybe that player could have changed the team and their future.