WVU Far From the Only College Program That Features Transfer Quarterbacks
A decade ago, the transfer of a top flight quarterback was something of a rarity. Now it is a common occurrence.
In the class of 2008, only 10 percent of the four- and five-star quarterback recruits transferred before the end of their collegiate careers. Less than a decade later, that changed considerably. Of the 65 four- and five-star quarterbacks from the classes of 2014, ’15 and ’16, nearly 60 percent of them – 58.9 percent to be exact – transferred at least once in the college careers.
West Virginia’s football program has certainly been part of that trend. Clint Trickett (2013-14) and Skyler Howard (2014-16) weren’t four- or five-star products coming out of his school, but each did transfer into WVU – Trickett from Florida State as a grad transfer and Howard, a junior college transfer from Riverside City (Calif.) College. And that doesn’t count the Mountaineer transfer quarterbacks from previous generations like Ade Dillon (1972-73), Jeff Hostetler (1982-83), Greg Jones (1989-90) and Jake Kelchner (1992-93).
The Mountaineers have jumped into the transfer market for blue chip QB transfers as of late, luring Will Grier (2017-18) from Florida, Jack Allison (2018-present) from Miami and now Austin Kendall from Oklahoma.
West Virginia is far from the only college program following this transfer trail for second-chance quarterback talent. A look at WVU’s 2019 football schedule shows that every one of the Mountaineers’ 12 opponents are dealing with quarterbacks who have transferred out, in or both.
James Madison – Ben DiNucci is a graduate of Western PA prep power Pine-Richland High School who spent the first three years of his prep career at Pitt. An on-again, off-again starter with the Panthers who eventually lost the No. 1 job to Pitt’s own grad transfer in 2017, Max Browne who came from USC, DiNucci transferred to JMU prior to the 2018 season, initially as a walk-on because the Dukes didn’t have an available scholarship. He started all 13 games for JMU last year, and now will face West Virginia in the 2019 season opener as a fifth-year senior.
Missouri – The Tigers had one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Drew Lock this past season, but he was a senior who figures to be in the NFL next fall. Thus needing a replacement for Lock, Mizzou dipped into the transfer pool not once but twice as of late. First came Kelly Bryant, the former starter at Clemson who led the Tigers to a 12-2 season in 2017, but lost his starting job to freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence in 2018. Bryant ultimately redshirted last season and left for Missouri as a grad transfer. Shawn Robinson also is at Mizzou, having transferred from TCU, where he was the starter in the first half of 2018 before being injured. Robinson will have to sit out this year because he’s a traditional transfer, so he won’t be able to see game action when WVU comes to Columbia on Sept. 7.
N.C. State – The Wolfpack have been just as reliant on transfer quarterbacks in recent years as West Virginia. N.C. State used two transfers at QB in 2013 (Pete Thomas from Colorado State and Brandon Mitch from Arkansas), Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett in 2014 and ’15, and then Ryan Finley, who came to Raleigh from Boise State, was the starter for the ‘Pack the past three seasons. Finley has now graduated and his replacement, who will face WVU on Sept. 14, very well may another transfer. Brock Hockman originally attended Florida State but after one season in 2017 with the Seminoles, he left for Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. Hockman enrolled at N.C. State earlier this month, and he’ll likely challenge 2018 backup Matthew McKay for the starting job next season.
Kansas – Les Miles, formerly of LSU, is the latest head coach to try to turn around the Jayhawks’ football fortunes. To do so, he’ll need to find a new quarterback, as KU’s 2018 starter, Peyton Bender, has graduated. Kansas has long had a history of quarterbacks transferring in and out. Ryan Willis left KU in 2017 and emerged as a starter at Virginia Tech last season, while previous Jayhawk starter Montell Cozart transferred to Boise State for his senior season in ’17. Despite all that attrition, Miles still has some options. He could turn to senior Carter Stanley, redshirt freshman Billy Maples or sophomore Miles Fallin. But his more likely options are a pair of transfers – Miles Kendrick, who came to KU prior to the 2018 season after a juco year at the College of San Mateo, and Thomas MacVitte, who spent the 2016 and ’17 seasons at Pitt before moving on to Mesa (Ariz.) Community College last year. He’s now Miles’ first quarterback recruit, and will vie for the starting job in Lawrence this fall.
Texas – The Longhorns didn’t gain any transfer quarterbacks this offseason – at least not yet – but they did lose two. Starter Sam Ehlinger will return for his junior season next year, but his backup the past couple of years, Shane Buechele, is transferring to SMU. Another UT QB, freshman Cameron Rising also is leaving, as he’s transferring to Utah.
Iowa State – The top of the quarterback depth chart remains the same in Ames, as Brock Purdy returns for his sophomore season, but the rest of QB room is changing. ISU saw two quarterbacks transfer out – Zeb Noland to North Dakota State and Devon Moore to South Dakota – but it also gained one, when John Kolar left Oklahoma State as a grad transfer and will be enrolling at Iowa State. He’ll team with his brother, ISU tight end Charlie Kolar, and will provide QB depth behind Purdy in 2019.
Oklahoma – Another king of transfer quarterbacks, getting Baker Mayfield from Texas Tech and Kyler Murray from Texas A&M, the Sooners have another in Jalen Hurts, who comes to Norman for one season as a grad transfer from Alabama. The addition of Hurts led Austin Kendall to depart OU, and he’s now landed at West Virginia.
Baylor – After a flurry of transfer activity at the quarterback position in the recent past – Zach Smith left for Tulsa and Jarrett Stidham for Auburn the last couple of years, while Jalen McClendon came from N.C. State to Waco for one final season in 2018 as a grad transfer – the Bears haven’t had a lot of movement in the QB position yet this offseason. Junior-to-be Charlie Brewer is at the top of the depth chart, but with six returning quarterbacks behind him, it would seem inevitable some will leave.
Texas Tech – The Red Raiders have a new head coach in Matt Wells, and sometimes such a transition leads to some quarterback movement. Tech did witness backup Nick Gerber leave for West Texas A&M, but TTU’s top three quarterbacks – McLane Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman, each of whom started games in 2018 – all remain and will be fighting for the top job this year.
Kansas State – With the retirement of Bill Snyder, the Chris Klieman era starts at K-State. The coaching change – Klieman comes from North Dakota State – brought some quarterback movement in Manhattan, as Alex Delton left as a graduate transfer for TCU. The past two years Delton typically was the backup behind Skylar Thompson, who returns for his junior year at KSU. Klieman and K-State QB coach Collin Klein, who is a holdover from the Snyder staff, will spend the spring trying to find a replacement for Delton as a backup to Thompson. There are five candidates currently on the Wildcat roster, though 6-foot-4, 256-pound redshirt freshman John Holcombe may have the inside track to be the next power-running KSU quarterback, just like Klein.
Oklahoma State – The Cowboys will be looking for a new starting quarterback, as starter Taylor Cornelius has graduated and backup John Kolar has moved on to Iowa State as a grad transfer. Dru Brown, who came to Oklahoma State in the summer of 2018 as a transfer from Hawaii, redshirted this past season, so he’ll compete for the job this coming year as a senior, along with redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders and junior Keondre Wudtee.
TCU – Injuries forced Gary Patterson to start three different quarterbacks for the Horned Frogs last season. The one who started at the beginning of the season, Shawn Robinson, has decided to transfer to Missouri, and the one who started at the end, Grayson Muehlstein, has graduated. That leaves Mike Collins, a junior-to-be who himself transferred from Penn to TCU in 2017, as the most experienced QB in Horned Frog system. Collins figures to be pushed for the starting job this season by highly regarded redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Rogers, who spent most of 2018 mending from a knee injury he suffered in high school, and Alex Delton, who comes to TCU as a graduate transfer from K-State.