Steve Spurrier would have no problem taking a transfer quarterback. It’s just that, in 10 years as South Carolina’s coach, he’s never found the right fit.
“We just haven’t ever had an opportunity for one,” Spurrier said.
Nearly 10 years after an NCAA rule change allowed FBS players who had graduated to transfer to another FBS school and not sit out a season, the opportunity for the Gamecocks or any other school to land a transfer quarterback is increasing, if for no other reason than the rising number of players taking advantage of the rule.
“That’s certainly something players are doing, not only quarterbacks,” Spurrier said.
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But it’s quarterbacks, as usual, who are getting the bulk of the attention.
Ever since Russell Wilson transferred from N.C. State to Wisconsin in 2011 and then set the single-season FBS record for passing efficiency on the way to the Big Ten title, quarterback-concerned fan bases across the country have held out hope that a readymade starter and star will fall out of the sky in the spring and lead their team to glory.
The truth is, few transfers make enough contribution to draw national, or even regional, attention. Last offseason, Florida State transfer Jake Coker, scared out of Tallahassee by Jameis Winston, was expected to win the Crimson Tide’s starting job easily and help lead Alabama to a national title. Instead, he spent the season behind another quarterback, this time Blake Sims.
In the past two years, Gunner Kiel has left Notre Dame for Cincinnati, Michael Brewer has left Texas Tech for Virginia Tech, Jacoby Brissett has left Florida for N.C. State and Stephen Rivers has left LSU for Vanderbilt. None have led their new teams to anything resembling glory. This year, Florida graduate Jeff Driskel has decided to finish his eligibility at Louisiana Tech after a disastrous season with the Gators.
The age of free agency quarterbacks is officially here in college football.
The trend has become so pervasive that speculation of landing spots begins even before a quarterback decides to transfer. Several fan bases, including South Carolina’s, are ready to poach Everett Golson from Notre Dame and Braxton Miller from Ohio State without any indication from those players they want to leave their current team.
Golson, a native of Myrtle Beach who is on track to graduate in May, makes sense for South Carolina from a geographic standpoint, but since a report surfaced last week that Golson “reached out” to LSU about the possibility of transferring, his private quarterback coach, George Whitfield Jr., has tweeted that Golson is staying at Notre Dame. Golson started for the 2012 Irish team that played for the national title but missed 2013 because of an academic suspension and lost his starting job to Malik Zaire at the end of the 2014 season.
Miller, who was the Big Ten offensive player of the year in 2012 and 2013 but was unable to play in 2014 because of a shoulder injury, might need a new home thanks to the promise shown by the younger J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones at the position, but he’s yet to make any announcement about his future. That hasn’t stopped reports that have linked him to Florida State, Oregon, Duke and LSU. Miller is expected to graduate in time to be eligible at another school in 2015.
Spurrier has had no contact with either player, but the Gamecocks are monitoring who might be available, according to a source. As a general rule, taking a player with one year of eligibility remaining wouldn’t bother Spurrier, he said.
“Oh yeah, he could learn how to play in a year,” Spurrier said. “We’ve had some that sort of got booted out at one place, when they call around, they call a little bit of everywhere, but we have not actively pursued any of them.”
If that were to change this season, or any other, it wouldn’t change until after national signing day on Feb. 4, Spurrier said.
“We’d have to worry about that if it came up at the time,” Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks return Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia at quarterback next season, and four-star prospect Lorenzo Nunez is scheduled to sign in February.
“We think we have a very good player coming, and we think there are some good players here,” Spurrier said. “We are not actively looking right now. We think we’re in good shape, but if something comes up at any position, you’d certainly look at it. Left guard, tight end, any position.”
Scout.com national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons hasn’t seen the rise of “free agent” quarterbacks affect the more traditional recruiting of high school quarterbacks, he said.
“Typically, those guys are going to be one-year guys, two at the most, so I don’t think it’s going to affect the way schools recruit high school quarterbacks or even the way high school quarterbacks look at a school,” Simmons said. “I don’t think it will affect the true recruiting.”