December 9, 2022

The 10 best quarterback moves from transfer portal

College Football's top quarterback transfers

Former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson attempts a pass in the third quarter against Iowa State Saturday November 6, 2021 at Jack Trice Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

All it takes is one quarterback to change the credibility of a program.

The transfer portal has become the free agency of College Football and everyone is getting in on the action. These 10 individuals have the experience, production and leadership to make an immediate impact with their new teams.

There’s nothing like igniting a fan base and creating some positive buzz heading towards the spring, which is what these signal-callers generated with their announcements. Now it’s time to see how their new journeys pan out for 2022.

10. Jack Plummer to California: Chase Garbers was a four-year starter for the Golden Bears, and finished No. 3 all-time in career total touchdowns. With Garbers gone, Plummer is just what the doctor ordered for Justin Wilcox. After all, Plummer has a strong arm and started multiple games for Purdue over the past three seasons. He also threw for 3,405 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during that span. In Jeff Brohm’s scheme, Plummer had to split starts with Aidan O’Connell throughout his time as a Boilermaker. However, the Arizona native will be numero uno for the Golden Bears heading into spring ball. All of Plummer’s big-game experience in the Big Ten should benefit him in the Pac-12.

9. Connor Bazelak to Indiana: The Hoosiers just finished a 2-10 campaign, which included nine touchdown passes and 16 interceptions from their quarterbacks. So Tom Allen fired Nick Sheridan as his Offensive Coordinator and replaced him with former UMass Coach Walt Bell. Adding Bazelak to the position completes Indiana’s reconstruction of its’ woeful passing attack in 2021. Bazelak went 11-10 as Missouri’s starter over the last two seasons. He also threw for 4,906 yards, 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions during that span. The Hoosiers need better offensive line play in order for Bazelak to flourish. The unit allowed 29 sacks last season, which ranked 81st in FBS and sixth in the Big Ten East.

8. Adrian Martinez to Kansas State: Skylar Thompson finally used up all of his eligibility, and Will Howard has yet to blossom, so the Wildcats will need stability at the quarterback position. Coach Chris Klieman landed a diamond in the rough in Martinez. The 22-year old started the last four seasons at Nebraska and was very productive. He’s also the Huskers’ all-time career leader in total offense. However, Martinez never led Big Red Nation to a winning season and was injured every year. Martinez missed Nebraska’s final game because of a shoulder injury. Klieman doesn’t expect he’ll be ready in time for spring ball, but knows Martinez brings a ton of athleticism and grit to Collin Klein’s offense.

7. Zach Calzada to Auburn: The former three-star prospect went 6-4 as Texas A&M’s starter last season. Calzada was the only quarterback in the country to beat Alabama in 2021. He threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns in the upset win over the Crimson Tide. Not to mention Calzada passed for 1,577 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions in SEC play. So there’s no denying his big-game experience. Bo Nix started the last three seasons for Auburn, so Coach Bryan Harsin needed a signal-caller with SEC experience to replace him. With Calzada filling that void, Harsin lands the ideal player, who’s capable of making everything a smooth transition for the Tigers’ offense next fall.

6. Bo Nix to Oregon: The Ducks needed to replace Anthony Brown with a quarterback of the same skill set, and new Coach Dan Lanning got the right guy. Nix is a former five-star prospect, with a boatload of experience against elite competition. He has started the last three seasons at Auburn, and finished as the program’s all-time leader in total offense. The Alabama native can hurt defenses with his legs and arm. Nix is a natural at extending plays until the right receiver comes open. Not to mention he won an Iron Bowl in 2019. Nix should be able to thrive in the Pac-12 North because the competition is nowhere near as good as the SEC West, which is arguably the toughest division in the FBS.

5. Kedon Slovis to Pittsburgh: The Panthers had to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett, and landed one of the best pro-style quarterbacks from the transfer portal. Although Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple left the program for the same position with Nebraska, Slovis is very capable of keeping the wheels rolling for the Panthers’ offense next fall. After all, he started the last three seasons at USC and had several clutch moments. Slovis was named the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2019, and earned first-team, All-Pac-12 honors in 2020. Slovis also set a school record for single-game passing yards. The 20-year old had 7,576 yards through the air and 58 touchdown passes as a Trojan.

4. Spencer Rattler to South Carolina: He had a monster year in 2020, when he threw for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and led Oklahoma to a Big 12 Title. Rattler was the Heisman favorite at the beginning of the 2021 season, but the Sooners’ offense underachieved and Lincoln Riley benched him for Caleb Williams. It was a humbling ordeal for Rattler, so it was no surprise he wound up hitting the transfer portal. The former five-star prospect could’ve picked any Power Five program he wanted, but chose South Carolina because of history with its’ head coach. Shane Beamer was the Sooners’ Tight End Coach for three seasons, including two with Rattler, so the chemistry and understanding is there.

3. Casey Thompson to Nebraska: Scott Frost parted ways with quarterback Adrian Martinez and four offensive assistants after the Huskers’ 3-9 campaign. It was Nebraska’s fourth-straight losing season under Frost and the offense needed new leadership. So Nebraska hired Mark Whipple, who’s the same Offensive Coordinator that led Pittsburgh to an ACC Title and made Kenny Pickett a Heisman Finalist. The cherry on top for Nebraska was landing Thompson. After all, the former four-star prospect threw for 2,113 yards and scored 28 total touchdowns as Texas’ starter in 2021. Not to mention Thompson passed for six touchdowns against Kansas, plus five apiece against Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

2. Dillon Gabriel to Oklahoma: The former four-star prospect ditched Chip Kelly and UCLA to join Brent Venables and Oklahoma. Gabriel was a hot commodity in the transfer portal, considering he led the FBS in passing yards per game in 2020 at UCF under Josh Heupel’s leadership. He only played in three games for the Knights this season, including a win over Boise State, when he threw for four touchdowns. With Lincoln Riley at USC, Spencer Rattler at South Carolina and Caleb Williams testing the transfer market, Gabriel will be Oklahoma’s No. 1 quarterback option. Former Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Jeff Lebby will now be calling the plays, which means Gabriel’s numbers should skyrocket again.

1. Max Johnson to Texas A&M: It was obvious he wanted a fresh start after Ed Orgeron left LSU. Johnson’s past two seasons with the Tigers were stellar. He threw for 3,883 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions during that span. The former four-star prospect torched Texas A&M’s defense for 306 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season finale win. Johnson’s performance must’ve left a lasting impression on Coach Jimbo Fisher, because he transferred to Texas A&M three weeks later. Fisher is a quarterback whisperer, and should be able to help Johnson reach his full potential. The Aggies have a plethora of weapons for Johnson to operate with and he’s battle-tested in the SEC.

Honorable Mention

Michael Penix Jr. to Washington: Although his Indiana career was plagued by injuries, he’s an elite dual-threat when healthy and capable of putting a team on his back in the clutch.

Jason Brown to Virginia Tech: He threw for eight touchdowns and six interceptions this past season with South Carolina, so he’s played against some elite defenses and that’ll help in Blacksburg.