The transfer quarterback is a polarizing prospect. While maybe he couldn’t make it work at a different school or a younger player stole the spotlight, they go in search of new colors to wear in the next season. We all have fond memories of guys like Jalen Hurts, Baker Mayfield, and Russel Wilson making a name for themselves in new uniforms. While others like Max Browne, Gage Gubrud, and Dakota Prukop couldn’t make it work.
Notable names such as KJ Costello (Stanford to Mississippi State), Jamie Newman (Wake Forest to Georgia), and D’Eriq King (Houston to Miami) are headlining the transfer market in 2020 and there are reasons for both optimism and pessimism with all of their destinations.
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2020 Quarterback Transfers
I’ve discussed King’s transfer to Miami in my “2020 Glaring Questions” piece that I released several weeks ago. King is entering a school that has had two quarterbacks average 20 or more fantasy points per game in a single season since 1990. While Miami has the talent and a notable Offensive Coordinator change to former-SMU OC Rhett Lashlee who worked under Sonny Dykes for the previous two seasons.
Jamie Newman left Wake Forest after producing one of the more notable seasons in school history from a quarterback with the second-most yards of total offense from any former Wake Forest player with 3,445 yards of total offense (John Wolford; No. 1, 3,875 Total Yards) and second in total touchdowns also behind John Wolford with 32. Newman is leaving an offensive powerhouse at Wake Forest to a Georgia team that loses multiple offensive linemen and a prominent running back. The Bulldogs have had one top-20 offensive unit since the departure of quarterback Aaron Murray in 2013 and Kirby Smart has an average season ranking of 49.5 in total offense.
KJ Costello has the arm and the decision making to be gold in the Mike Leach system. Costello has a career completion percentage of 62.6% and averages 7.8 yards per attempt. The problem may lie in the Mike Leach system he is going to. Leach is taking over a school that is built for a ground-based offense and has very little receiving depth to complement his air raid offense. Leach’s first quarterback at Texas Tech was Kliff Kingsbury who wasn’t exactly efficient with a 21:17 TD/INT ratio and had no other skill player reach an offensive number close to 1,00 yards. The great Cougar quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday combined for 3,965 passing yards but had a measly 23:21 TD/INT ratio.
On top of the offensive scheme change at Mississippi State, It’s important to note the personnel that is already on the roster. Garrett Schrader is by no means the model of a Mike Leach quarterback but the talent is undeniable. Schrader’s value comes on his legs which we saw a season ago when he ran for 587 yards and six scores in ten games. Schrader may not be what Leach wants for his starting quarterback but to count him completely out is a mistake by anyone who is considering drafting Costello.
These are normal reasons to be curious about any quarterback. There were similar reasons to be on edge about drafting Jalen Hurt last year too. Lack of arm talent for an Oklahoma offense, the addition of Spencer Rattler, and the possibility of Tanner Mordecai stepping into the spotlight. These are normal reasons for anyone to be wary of a quarterback.
Why Steer Clear?
This year is a different year. In March of this year, we saw many prominent sporting events come to a screeching halt due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA Tournament was cancelled along with the College World Series and the championship matchups for other Spring sports. The NBA and NHL also put a hold on their seasons and the MLB owners are too divided to announce a start date for America’s Sport.
College Football will happen this season. It may look different. But there will be football. For this article, we will assume that all 130 FBS schools will take part in their already scheduled contests without fans in attendance.
The first impact that College Football has faced is the lack of Spring Training. This hinders grad-transfers that came in the Spring as well as incoming freshmen that were looking to play year one. Spring training allows for more time for these players to be integrated with the personnel around them and learn the playbook not only in knowledge but also in practice. No Spring put an end to all of this. Players are having to practice plays with whoever is close to home and study their playbooks without ever facing live action.
Safety in Tenure
When it comes to College Fantasy Football in 2020 you have a variety of options to quarterback your squad. There are players who know their playbooks and personnel on the field and off the field like Brock Purdy, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Sam Howell, Kedon Slovis, and Sam Ehlinger who have had plenty of what Costello, King, and Newman haven’t had. Time. Time with the playbook and with their rosters.
My advice this season to anyone reading this is to take a chance on someone established at quarterback rather than someone brought in. Even guys like Adrian Martinez, Dustin Crum, and Sam Hartman and great picks this season because when you draft them you know what you’re getting despite a more difficult schedule. Don’t waste an early-round pick on a transfer this season. Don’t bank on what they were also season (In King and Costello’s case two seasons ago) to be what they are this year.
The same argument can be made for players like Bryce Young, Luke Doty, Jay Butterfield, Chubba Purdy, Jeff Sims, Michael Alaimo, and Malik Hornsby who all entered into schools where starting in 2020 are a possibility. This isn’t to say it’s impossible for a Summer enrollee to win out. JT Daniels did just that in 2018. But all seven guys listed above had uphill battles going into 2020. Now the incline has risen and the fight for the top of the depth chart has only gotten more difficult.
This season is all about tenure. Get the guy that you know can do it where he is at because you’ve seen it. The reward is about the same as last season and the floor is apparent. Draft smart this season.
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