How 2019 College Football Season Would Be Different Without the Transfer Portal

Reality: In 2019, one of the biggest stories in college football has been the transfer portal. The position that has received the most attention when it comes to transfers have been quarterbacks.

Unreality: Transfer portal doesn’t exist. Quarterbacks who have committed to their initial schools over the last 3-4 years are still with those schools.

Here is a list of some of the key schools impacted by this new world of no transfers.

Ohio State

  • 2019 QB: Justin Fields (from Georgia)
  • Would-be 2019 QB(s): Joe Burrow (LSU), Tate Martell (Miami), Matthew Baldwin (TCU)

Fields was the #1 recruit in the 2018 class and replaced Dwayne Haskins, who left early for the NFL after throwing 50 TD passes last season. Ohio State could have had another Heisman favorite – Joe Burrow, who has brought life to LSU’s offense for the first time ever, Tate Martell, who has converted to WR at Miami after losing the QB competition, and Matthew Baldwin who was the 12th ranked pro-style QB in the 2018 class and is now at TCU.

Georgia

  • 2019 QB: Jake Fromm
  • Would-be 2019 QBs: Fromm, Justin Fields (Ohio State), Jacob Eason (Washington)

Bulldogs suffered their first loss in week 7, losing to South Carolina. QB Jake Fromm struggled throwing 3 interceptions. Fromm took over the starting job in 2017, when former 5 star recruit Jacob Eason got hurt. In 2018, Eason left when the #1 QB in the country, Justin Fields, committed to Georgia. Bulldogs are left now with just Fromm, but would arguably be the #1 team in the country if they had Fields and were utilizing him properly.

LSU

  • 2019 QB: Joe Burrow (Ohio State)
  • Would-be 2019 QBs: Justin McMillan (LSU), Myles Brennan

For the first time in….HISTORY, LSU has an offense. Thanks solely because of OSU transfer Joe Burrow. Without Burrow, LSU would have Justin McMillan, who has helped elevate Tulane’s offense near the top of the AAC and the top half of the country. But McMillan would fit the old of same old LSU QB. Before Burrow’s commitment, Myles Brennan was in the mix to start. He was the #6 pro-stye QB and the 152nd overall player in 2017.

Oklahoma

  • 2019 QB: Jalen Hurts (Alabama)
  • Would-be 2019 QBs: Spencer Rattler, Austin Kendall (West Virginia), Tanner Mordecai

Sooners love the transfer portal. That’s how they got Baker Mayfield (from Texas Tech) and Kyler Murray (from Texas A&M). It’s also how they got Jalen Hurts (from Alabama) this season. Without Hurts, Oklahoma would have several options. They could turn to Spencer Rattler, who was the #1 QB prospect in the 2019 class. Austin Kendall would not have left for West Virginia. Kendall threw 39 passes in 6 games for the Sooners in 2016 and 2018. And Tanner Mordecai, who was the 11th ranked dual-threat in 2018, could also be an option.

Alabama and Clemson

  • 2019 QBs: Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence
  • Would-be 2019 QBs: Alabama – Tua, Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), Blake Barnett (USF); Clemson – Lawrence, Kelly Bryant (Missouri), Hunter Johnson (Northwestern)

I’m going to jump these two teams together. Because they have had multiple QBs face off in recent CFB Playoff games.

In 2018, Alabama beat Clemson in the semifinals of the CFB Playoffs with Jalen Hurts starting for Alabama and Kelly Bryant starting for Clemson. This came one year after Hurts lost the National Championship as the starter against Clemson.

Both Hurts and Bryant would be backups to Tua and Travor Lawrence, respectively. Hurts has been dominating at Oklahoma in 2019 and Kelly Bryant is off to a strong start at Missouri.

Behind the backups, Alabama would have Blake Barnett, who played for Alabama in 2015 and 2016, before moving on to Arizona State and now South Florida, where he has been starting the last two years.

At Clemson, Hunter Johnson would be #3 on the depth chart. Johnson is currently at Northwestern and is a former 5 star prospect and #2 pro-style QB from 2017.

Ole Miss

  • 2019 QB: John Rhys Plumlee, Matt Corral
  • Would be 2019 QB: Shea Patterson (Michigan)

Shea Patterson was the #1 recruit in 2016, and left Ole Miss after 2017 amid NCAA violations. He threw 17 TDs and 9 INTs in 7 starts in 2016, before suffering an injury. Had Patterson played at Ole Miss in 2018, he would have had two NFL Draft picks at his disposal – WRs DK Metcalf and AJ Brown.

Michigan

  • 2019 QB: Shea Patterson
  • Would-be 2019 QBs: Dylan McCaffery, Brandon Peters

Without Patterson, Wolverines would be left with Dylan McCaffery and Brandon Peters (who is currently at Illinois). Peters threw 110 passes between 2017 and 2018. McCaffery was the 5th ranked pro-style QB in the 2017 class and is the younger brother of NFL player Christian McCaffery.

SMU

  • 2019 QB: Shane Buechele
  • Would-be 2019 QB: Ben Hicks

Mustangs are unbeaten and ranked in the polls, for the first time since the 80s. They have been one of the big surprises and best stories of the college football season. That is largely due to the presence of former Texas QB Shane Buechele. Without Buechele, the Mustangs would be left with Ben Hicks, who started 37 games from 2016-2018. SMU went 14-23. Obviously, a lot of that is due to talent around him. Hicks was very good. But Buechele has elevated the offense in 2019.

Tulane

  • 2019 QB: Justin McMillon

Tulane has been another fun story in the AAC and former LSU QB Justin McMillan has lead the surging Green Wave offense. Tulane is currently averaging 36 ppg (24th in country) and averaging over 260 yards rushing per game, which ranks in the top 10. With a second straight bowl game within reach, none of that would be possible without McMillan.

Florida State

  • 2019 QB: Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin), James Blackmon
  • Would-be 2019 QBs: Blackmon, Deondre Francois (Hampton), Bailey Hockman (NC State), Malik Henry (Nevada)

Who knows if the Seminoles would be better with another quarterback in 2019, but without the transfer portal they would certainly have plenty of options. Francois played in 25 games at FSU, before departing after last year’s disastrous season. Hockman never played at FSU, and has started a few games for NC State this year. Malik Henry never played at FSU, either, and turned into a big star on “Last Chance U” before winding up at Nevada this year.

Honorable mention of teams that would be impacted

  • Memphis – among the frontrunners for the Group of Five bowl bid, using former Arizona State QB Brady White
  • TCU – would lost former OSU QB Matthew Baldwin and Kansas State transfer Alex Delton and regain current Missouri QB Shawn Robinson.
  • Arkansas – Razorbacks are using two transfers in 2019 – Ben Hicks (SMU) and Nick Starkel (Texas A&M). 2018 starter Ty Storey is at Western Kentucky and Cole Kelly transferred to Southeastern Louisiana.
  • Maryland – QB Josh Jackson put up monster numbers for the Terps in September, after transferring from Virginia Tech.
  • Washington – Huskies are starting Jacob Eason, former 5 star recruit from Georgia (mentioned earlier).
  • Mississippi State – Tommy Stevens transferred from Penn State to reunite with his former Offensive Coordinator and Bulldogs’ head coach Joe Moorhead.
  • Tennessee – Quentin Dormady is putting together a nice season for Central Michigan under former Florida head coach Jim McElwain, while the Vols struggle with Jarrett Guarantano.
  • Nebraska – With Adrian Martinez banged up a bit in 2019, Huskers could have had Patrick O’Brien (Colorado State) and Tristen Gebbia (Oregon State) as backups this year.

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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