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Ask Farrell: Why are so many quarterbacks transferring?

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team


PODCAST: Mike Farrell and Adam Gorney discuss college football's transfer problem

MORE: Farrell predicts uncommitted five-stars

Over the past few years, it seems as if more and more quarterbacks are on the move via offseason transfers. The recent trend of graduate transfers has led to plenty of players at all positions changing schools, but the quarterback moves are garnering even more headlines this offseason as the top quarterbacks in the 2016 class, Shea Patterson and Jacob Eason, both elected to leave their original programs since the calendar turned to 2018. But a quick study of recent history shows that elite quarterbacks want to play and aren’t afraid to transfer (sometimes more than once) to get that opportunity.

We looked at the top five quarterback each year from the 2015-17 classes and compared them to top five quarterbacks each year from 2012-14 to ascertain if more elite quarterbacks are actually transferring or if it only feels that way. The numbers reveal a surprising amount of transfers among the highest-ranked players every year. From 2012-14, just five of the 15 prospects finished their career with the school they signed with. Of the top 15 from 2015-17, seven have already transferred and that number will likely only grow as the careers of some prospects move along.

The biggest success stories among the players who elected to stay feature quarterbacks that started early in their career, including Jameis Winston (2012), Deshaun Watson (2014) and Josh Rosen (2015). Of the players that transferred, only Will Grier (2014, Florida to West Virginia) has found true success, while the jury is still out on players like Patterson, Eason and Keller Chryst.

In a new feature on Rivals.com, we ask Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell to weigh in on the situation and give his opinion on why transfers are so prevalent at quarterback and if the situation will continue at such a high rate in coming years.

This week’s question is: “Why do you think quarterbacks are at such high rates and so quickly into their college careers? Is the trend of elite quarterbacks transferring here to stay? Or will future top quarterbacks start considering the depth chart more before selecting a program?”


Jacob Eason
Getty Images

“I think the trend is here to stay and in some ways, I understand it completely and in other ways it annoys me to no end. I’m an old school guy, so the trend of early transfers for these highly recruited quarterbacks makes me question their willingness to stick to their word and work through adversity. However, many of them have also been put in situations where playing time is unlikely, so why not get out when you can?

"Quarterbacks are recruited differently than other prospects. Consider it flattery on steroids. They are promised the world and when that world comes crashing down to reality, they can’t handle it. So for a player like Eason or Hunter Johnson, when it becomes clear that you’re not going to be ‘the man’ as promised, finding a new home becomes necessary.

"But it still bothers me a bit. Quarterbacks are a play away from being in contention for playing time or being the next starter. Watching a player like Mitch Trubisky get rewarded for sticking it out at North Carolina and waiting his turn makes me think staying the course can often be the best course of action. If there are sanctions, as in the case of Patterson at Ole Miss, or the offense drastically changes as it did for Ryan Mallett at Michigan all those years ago, then a transfer is in order. But just losing the starting job? It doesn’t sit well with me, but I can 100 percent understand why these quarterbacks are getting out.

"It’s only going to get worse from here on out. Quarterbacks think they can win any job, so they don’t often look to the depth chart or what’s ahead of them when choosing a school. I’d love to see more big-time quarterbacks consider such factors when choosing a program and maybe there would be less transfers, but we all know that’s not going to happen. So we just follow these guys and see if any of them can have success like Grier is having.”