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Transfer Tuesday: NFL QBs that transferred during college

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson (AP Images)

The introduction of the transfer portal last year has changed the way players move across college football programs. With that in mind, Rivals.com will breakdown a transfer related topic each week.

But just because the portal has raised the profile of transfers over the past year doesn’t mean it’s a new thing in college football. High profile players have been switching schools for years and several have gone onto productive careers.

In fact, seven of the current 32 starting NFL quarterbacks transferred during their college days. Today we take a look back at the moves they made.

MORE TRANSFER TUESDAY: Five notable additions to the transfer portal

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As a recruit: The top overall quarterback in the class of 2014, Allen was highly-pursued by programs all over the country, but landed at Texas A&M, jumping at the chance to take over for Johnny Manziel.

Why he transferred: Allen took over the starting job as a true freshman in 2014, but the arrival of Kyler Murray in 2015 complicated things for both players and by the end of that season both players elected to move on from the program. Despite offers to play at the Power Five level, Murray elected to transfer to Houston in hopes of playing for then-head coach Tom Herman. But Allen had to sit out the 2016 season and by the time he was eligible, Herman had moved on to coach Texas. Allen struggled and eventually lost his starting job in 2017, and finished the year with just four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Rather than transfer again, Allen elected to enter the NFL Draft, where he went undrafted in 2018. Allen signed with the Carolina Panthers and eventually made the active roster late last year. In his second career start Sunday, he threw four touchdown passes in Carolina's 38-20 win over Murray and Arizona.

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JACOBY BRISSETT - Florida to NC State

As a recruit: One of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2011, the West Palm Beach native elected to stay in-state with the Gators, choosing Florida over LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Washington.

Why he transferred: Brissett was in a competition for the starting job each of his two years at Florida and got his chances to play, but never had much success. With it looking like he would never get a chance to be the full-time starter in Gainesville, Brissett transferred to NC State in early 2013.

After sitting out a season, he earned the starting job for the Wolfpack flourished, setting career marks in passing yards, rushing yards and touchdowns. Brissett was selected by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He is 2-1 this season since taking over for the Colts when Andrew Luck retired.

JOE FLACCO - Pitt to Delaware

As a recruit: A three-star in the class of 2003, Flacco chose Pittsburgh over in-state school Rutgers following his senior season.

Why he transferred: Flacco redshirted as a freshman and then served as Tyler Palko’s backup in 2004, playing sparingly mostly in a relief role. Looking for a path to playing time, Flacco transferred to FCS program Delaware. After sitting out the 2005 season, Flacco took over as the starter in 2006. After an up-and-down first year, he led the Blue Hens to the FCS Championship Game in 2007. Following a strong showing at the NFL Combine, Flacco was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He is starting for the Broncos but is 0-3 this season.

BAKER MAYFIELD - Texas Tech to Oklahoma

As a recruit: Despite a prolific high school career and a few college offers, Mayfield ended up walking on at Texas Tech.

Why he transferred: Mayfield won the starting job as a true freshman walk-on, the first player to ever do so at the FBS level. He went on to win Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors, but after a falling out with coaches over whether he would receive a scholarship and have to compete to be the starter, Mayfield left Texas Tech. He walked on at Oklahoma and after sitting out the 2014 season, became a three-year starter for the Sooners. Mayfield formed part of a dynamic duo with then-offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and went on to lead the Sooners to the College Football Playoff and win the Heisman Trophy and went on to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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GARDNER MINSHEW - East Carolina to Washington State

As a recruit: A three-star in the class of 2015, Minshew signed with Troy after receiving limited interest during the recruiting process. He never played a game with the Trojans and landed at junior college before signing with East Carolina in 2016.

Why he transferred: Minshew bounced all over the place, leaving Troy quickly and then eventually landing at ECU. During his time with the Pirates he saw quite a bit of action, but managed to post just a 3-14 record as a starter. With a starting spot not guaranteed, Minshew had his eyes set on learning from a veteran coach in 2018. After initially committing to graduate transfer to Alabama for his final year of eligibility and serve as a backup while learning under Nick Saban, Minshew was persuaded by Washington State coach Mike Leach to transfer to Washington State and be the Cougars' starter. Minshew took Leach up on his offer and led the Cougars to an 11-2 record and finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2018. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.Minshew has started the last two games for the Jaguars after taking over when Nick Foles was injured.

KYLER MURRAY - Texas A&M to Oklahoma

As a recruit: One of the most sought-after players in the state of Texas in a long time, Murray committed to Texas A&M and ended up sticking with the Aggies despite a late push from Texas and flirtations with several other programs.

Why he transferred: Murray came in the year after five-star Allen signed with the Aggies and competed with Allen for the job during fall camp. Allen won the competition, but Murray saw playing time and by the end of the year the two were so disenfranchised with quarterback rotation that they both elected to transfer. Murray landed at Oklahoma where he sat out the 2016 season, backed up Mayfield in 2017 and took over the starting job in 2018. He also led the Sooners to the playoffs and won the Heisman and went on to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Cardinals are 0-2-1 with him as the starter this year. He has four touchdowns and three interceptions.

RUSSELL WILSON - NC State to Wisconsin

As a recruit: An unheralded two-star recruit in the class of 2007, Wilson chose NC State over Duke prior to the start of his senior season.

Why he transferred: After redshirting his first season in Raleigh, Wilson became the starter as a redshirt freshman and never looked back, leading the Wolfpack to three successful seasons and also making the All-ACC team in 2008 and 2010. But Wilson’s baseball career never sat well with then-NC State coach Tom O’Brien, who was miffed when Wilson decided to go to spring training with Colorado Rockies instead of workout with the Wolfpack. According to Wilson, he was encouraged to leave by O’Brien and having already received his degree, he landed as a graduate transfer at Wisconsin. He went on to lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl while having the best statistical season of his career. Wilson was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

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