The college quarterback transfer market is ripe for the picking, as signal callers across the country routinely pack their belongings if they’re bypassed for the starting job one too many times.
This season, a trio of transfers have the chance to make a major impact with their new teams.
Max Browne: USC to Pitt
Browne, a former five-star passer from Sammamish, Wash., waited patiently behind Cody Kessler for his turn in Los Angeles. After being named the Trojans’ starter for 2016, Browne appeared finally ready for the spotlight, but a lackluster 1-2 start to the season (2 TDs, 2 INTs) prompted head coach Clay Helton to shake things up.
The emergence of Sam Darnold, who would lead USC to a spectacular 52-49 win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl, meant Browne was on the move. Having already completed his degree, Browne became a coveted transfer for many programs in search of a quarterback, but Pitt stood out from the pack. He’ll have to compete with Ben DiNucci and Thomas MacVittie for the job, but Browne’s experience should put him over the top.
Jarrett Stidham: Baylor to Auburn
Stidham made an immediate impact in Waco during his true freshman season. Despite playing second fiddle to starter Seth Russell for much of 2015, the Stephenville, Tex., native jumped on his opportunity when Russell went down with an injury midway through the year.
He showed extreme efficiency from the pocket, completing nearly 69 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions. But Stidham decided Baylor wasn’t the right fit and he transferred to Auburn, where he sat out last season per NCAA rules. Now, he’s a shoe-in to grab the starting job over incumbent Sean White, and the early reviews peg Stidham as one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC for 2017.
Blake Barnett: Alabama to Arizona State
Barnett, who hails from Corona, Calif., was just as highly touted of a recruit as Browne upon his arrival in Tuscaloosa. But if there’s anything we know about Nick Saban’s football factory, it’s the fact that starting jobs are never guaranteed. Despite winning a close battle heading into 2016, Barnett was quickly ousted for true freshman stud Jalen Hurts when his on-field results weren’t up to par.
Rather than wait out the rest of the season before picking a new destination, Barnett jumped ship right away. While some, including Saban, criticized him for the move, Barnett’s decision made a lot of sense. The NCAA says transfers must wait a full calendar year before they’re eligible to play for their new school, so Barnett will be available in late September. There’s a host of talented options in Tempe, as the Sun Devils currently boast six quarterbacks on their roster, but there are plenty of reasons to believe Barnett is the man for the job. His 6-foot-5 frame, with mobility and arm strength to boot, confirms as much.