Tracking the transfer quarterbacks in college football

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Jarrett Stidham
Jarrett Stidham bailed on the turmoil at Baylor to take charge of the offense at Auburn.

Something that the colleges borrowed from the NFL, free agency, has become more fashionable among college football staffs in the past few years.

Since an older, mature and experienced signal caller can possibly change the landscape of a team in need, the available quarterbacks for transfer usually have an assortment of options.

Some former top recruits players decide to pack it up and seek greener pastures for a variety of reasons. They didn’t progress as anticipated, couldn’t fit the offense, ended up with a different head coach from the one that recruited them or countless other reasons.

Whatever the reason, the end result at their new location doesn’t always meet the criteria either.

These are some players who are eligible to suit up in 2017 at their new address.

LSU faced one of these transfers this path weekend, Florida’s Malik Zaire. Or I should day, the Tigers DIDN’T face him. LSU will square off with another this weekend when Auburn comes to town with Jarrett Stidham.

Zaire, a highly touted lefty, signed with Notre Dame. He was backup for most of his sophomore season but did lead the Irish to a 31-28 win over LSU in the Music City Bowl in December 2014. His future appeared bright

Tabbed the starter entering 2015, Zaire fractured his ankle in the second game of the season. He eventually lost out to DeShone Kizer, now a rookie with the Cleveland Browns, and decided to redshirt in 2016. He transferred to Florida where he has not been a factor thus far.

Stidham went to Baylor in 2015 where he had three starts as a true freshman. He threw for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns including a 419 yard performance against Kansas.

Originally committed to Texas Tech where that program appeared on more solid ground in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal in Waco, Stidham suffered a broken ankle before he decided that he wanted out. He enrolled at McLennan Community College for ’16 but did not play football. He knocked the rust off pretty quickly this year though, leading Auburn to an impressive 44-23 win over Ole Miss last week. The performance marked the third 40 point game against SEC competition this season for Auburn, averaging 35.8 points per game overall. However, Stidham has been sacked 18 times. He has 1,345 yards passing with seven scores and two interceptions so far for the Plainsmen.

Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey is recognized as a good developer of quarterback’s. Stidham has been labeled as having a rocket arm with NFL potential.

Others have had moderate or limited success in new locales.

Kyle Allen took a Lone Star detour from Texas A&M to Houston. Considered the nation’s top quarterback recruit in the ’14 class. He spent 2014 and 2015 campaigns with the Aggies where he was tabbed the 2014 Liberty Bowl MVP. Allen accumulated 3,532 yards, 33 touchdown and 14 interceptions, completing 58.5 percent of his throws in Aggieland.

Life for Allen at Houston has not gone as well. He has been overtaken by senior Kyle Postma and has been in backup role for last three contests.

Blake Barnett arrived at Alabama as a 5 star recruit before he was called a “quitter” by Nick Saban. He transferred to Arizona State where the sophomore has been unable to overtake junior Manny Wilkins. Barnett has made only three pass attempts this season.

David Cornwell is another much heralded signal caller who chose Alabama and had limited college success. He chose the Crimson Tide over UCLA, Oklahoma State, Miami, Auburn and others. The 6-foot-5 pro-style slinger from Norman, Oklahoma arrived in 2014 class but eventually decided that Nevada would be a better fit.

Nevada seemed a wise move at first since he was named the starter for the 2017 fall camp, but Cornwell was relegated to backup when the season took flight. He also took flight from the Wolf Pack program Sept. 27 when he was demoted to the No. 3 quarterback spot.

Brandon HarrisBrandon Harris is one vagabond LSU fans know well. He had 15 starts for the Bengal Tigers and tossed for 2,756 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Parkway High in Bossier City product had his 1st career start at Auburn in 2014 as a true freshman. He seemed to regress during his time at LSU, eventually replaced in 2016 by transfer Danny Etling.

Harris decided to try his luck at North Carolina as a grad transfer for this season. Penciled in as the starter to start the season, was replaced by redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt after struggling in the opener against California (7 for 16 for 60 yards and two interceptions). Harris has 276 yards, one touchdown and three picks thus far for the Heels.

Caleb Henderson moved on from North Carolina to Maryland prior to the ’16 campaign. A redshirt freshman for the Tar Heels in 2014, he had mop up duty as a sophomore the next season. He still has 2018 to play for Terps, but he has been unavailable for Maryland so far after suffering ankle injury in July.

Jake Luton took a step up from Idaho to Oregon State after a JUCO All American stint at Ventura College. In his four appearances at Idaho in 2015, the 6-foot-7 Luton had 383 yards passing and a touchdown while running for five scores.

Now with the struggling Beavers, Luton suffered a spine fracture against Washington State. He had 853 yards passing with four touchdowns and four interceptions before the injury, including a 304-yard passing day against Colorado State in season opener.

Shane Morris is the nation’s 20th leading passer. The lefty spent four years at Michigan as a backup before he jumped to Central Michigan and flourished. Morris has 1,336 yards, nine touchdown and eight interceptions this season, including a 467 yard game against Kansas.

Kyler Murray, much heralded entering Texas A&M after being named 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year, had three starts for the Aggies in ’15 where he accounted for 686 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. While at Allen High in Texas, Murray led the school to three state titles and a perfect 42-0 record.

Murray transferred to Oklahoma where he sits as backup to Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield. The plans are to insert him as starter when Mayfield departs after this season. Murray has 252 yards with two touchdowns in three appearances this season including a 3-for-3 effort for 103 yards and a touchdown against Tulane in a 56-14 Sooner win.

A backup plan for the OU backup QB may be baseball, where the 5-foot-11, 185 pound infielder flashes skills that could land him in MLB one day. He plans to play in the Cape Code League this summer.

Anu Solomon from Las Vegas bailed out as a three-year starter at Arizona to take a chance with the winless Baylor Bears. In his 26 starts at Arizona, he had 7,964 yards, 49 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Solomon has only had a pair of starts in 2017 at Baylor where he has thrown for 399 yards, four touchdown and two interceptions.

Thomas Sirk went from Duke to East Carolina after two torn achilles tendon injuries stunted his career in Durham. He did lead the Blue Devils in 2015 with 809 yards rushing with eight touchdowns, adding 2,624 yards and 16 scores through the air. He considered South Carolina and Southern Miss before deciding on ECU for his sixth season of eligibilty.

Sirk followed former Duke offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery, the new head coach at East Carolina. In his five starts this season, he has 1,129 yards passing with six touchdown and six interceptions.

Max Browne, a senior at Pittsburgh after leaving USC,threw for an incredible 12,951 yards, 146 touchdowns at Skyline High (Washington). He arrived in L.A. only to play second fiddle first to Cody Kessler and then current starter Sam Darnold. Browne only had 650 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions during his 3 seasons with Trojans.

After seeing the handwriting on the wall, Browne headed east only to watch Nathan Peterman operate the Matt Canada offense last fall. Shawn Watson is the new Panthers offensive coordinator, and Browne has done well in his system with 997 yards (71 percent completions), five touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

Will Grier, the nation’s 11th best passer, was USA Mr. Football in 2013. Things appeared rosey for the product of Davidson High in North Carolina where he set a national single game record with an astonishing 837 yards passing as a junior and threw for 4,989 yards and 77 touchdowns as a senior.

In his redshirt freshman season at Florida (2015), Grier had one start before being suspended after testing positive for drugs, prompting his transfer to West Virginia. Thus far, he has 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, completing 65.3 percent of his tosses. He has one remaining season after this one to play in Morgantown.

Tanner LeeCloser to home, former Jesuit Blue Jays quarterback Tanner Lee arrived at Tulane in the 2013 recruiting class. He possessed good pocket presence, arm strength and ability to recognize and diagnose coverage quickly. He threw for 552 yards and eight touchdowns and no interceptions against Shaw in one game while at Jesuit. He was named All State.

The 6-foot-4 pro-style passer threw for 3.600 yards and 11 touchdown in 19 starts under Curtis Johnson with the Green Wave. With the arrival of Willie Fritz and his staff, it became obvious that his skills didn’t suit the new run-oriented offensive scheme. He transferred to Nebraska in 2016, sat out one season and captured the starting job with the Cornhuskers in the spring. Senior Bowl scout Patrick Woo loves his potential.

It has been an up-and-down ride this year for Lee, who has thrown for 1,406 yards, 11 touchdown and 10 interceptions. He had 299 yards against Northern Illinois and 252 versus Oregon. The Huskers are 3-3, and pick sixes have been an issue for Lee. He is eligible to play in 2018.

Lee’s dad played baseball and football at Troy and his grandfather played football at Alabama.

No matter how many transfers and grad transfers fail or succeed, for a few anxious backups and hopeful head coaches seeking help at quarterback, the grass will always seem a little greener at a new location. The reality is almost never so clear.

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Rene Nadeau

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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