2021 NCAA Impact Transfer Quarterbacks
After uninspiring results in three years at NC State, Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for the 2011 season and delivered tremendous results. His success set the tone for a new era of college football with transfer acquisitions being a critical component in recruiting. Coming off the abbreviated 2020 season and with relaxed transfer rules in place, there are several proven quarterbacks that changed schools this off-season. Here are a handful of quarterback transfers for the 2021 college football season that could have a big impact in the 2021 season.
Charlie Brewer (From Baylor to Utah)
Brewer is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the nation having been the starter for the better part of four seasons at Baylor. He should eclipse 10,000 career passing yards in September and has a career completion rate of 63.5%. His numbers dropped last season in a chaotic season for the Bears with a major Covid pause and a coaching transition, but he should step into a good situation to be successful at Utah. Kyle Whittingham’s program has won consistently riding seven consecutive seasons above .500 and the roster has a significant amount of returning experience. Given his size Brewer isn’t much of an NFL prospect, but he has a chance to end his college career on a high note with a potential Pac-12 contender.
Jack Coan (From Wisconsin to Notre Dame)
A steady presence for the Badgers in 2018 and 2019, Coan was named the starter in 2020 ahead of super prospect Graham Mertz before suffering an injury ahead of the season. Coan has good size and is quicker than he appears, though he is not in the mold of Ian Book, the long-time Notre Dame quarterback that was a serious rushing threat. Brian Kelly has not officially named Coan the starter for an Irish team coming off a College Football Playoff appearance, but it would be a surprise if sophomore Drew Pyne beat out Coan. It will be difficult to replicate last season’s success but being Notre Dame’s quarterback is still a high-profile gig and Coan has the potential to have good numbers on a nationally relevant team and will also get a chance to face his former team in Chicago as well.
Grant Gunnell (From Arizona to Memphis)
Gunnell isn’t a household name after being an off-and-on starter for marginal Arizona teams the past two seasons, but he could be by season’s end. He has 15 career touchdowns against only three interceptions however and at 6’6” he will stand out now playing in the American. Ryan Silverfield’s offense should remain a high-scoring unit and Gunnell can go from relative anonymity to being an NFL draft pick like Paxton Lynch was out of Memphis in 2016. Defense has not often been a strength for the Memphis program as Gunnell could produce big numbers in many high-scoring shootout style games with last year’s Memphis quarterback Brady White posting the sixth most passing yards in the nation in 2020.
McKenzie Milton (From UCF to Florida State)
A star for UCF from 2016 to 2018 including the undefeated 2017 season, Milton suffered a terrible injury late in the 2018 season. There were questions on whether he would ever play again given the nature of the injury and the subsequent surgeries, but his knee has been rebuilt and he has been cleared to play. He ultimately has won the last 23 games he has started but there are major questions to whether he can return to being the dynamic playmaker he was for the Knights and he will face significantly upgraded opposition in the ACC. Florida State has been a mess in recent years now led by Mike Norvell with the Seminoles going just 3-6 last year. A storybook finish for Milton doesn’t seem likely but it is certainly worth rooting for.
Tyler Shough (From Oregon to Texas Tech)
While Texas Tech has changed coaches and isn’t quite the Air Raid squad of the past, being the Red Raiders quarterback remains a coveted position, especially when the face of the NFL is an alum. Shough was one of the most sought-after recruits after a stellar high school campaign as he has an NFL build and great athleticism. After redshirting behind Justin Herbert, Shough carried high expectations into 2020 at Oregon but ultimately did not have a great statistical season despite a Pac-12 Championship. Texas Tech is not expected to be a Big XII contender but the opportunity to post big numbers in high-profile games will be there.
Terry Wilson (From Kentucky to New Mexico)
An electric playmaker for the 2018 Wildcats team that beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, Wilson suffered a season-ending injury early in the 2019 season. He didn’t capture the same level of success last season and with Kentucky having several promising young options at quarterback Wilson found a new opportunity leaving the SEC. His mobility should play well in the Mountain West and while he is heading to a program that has 10 wins combined the past four seasons, he could immediately be among the conference’s top quarterbacks as well as a formidable rusher.
Logan Bonner (From Arkansas State to Utah State)
A two-year starter and quarterback that has played in each of the past four seasons at Arkansas State, Bonner followed coach Blake Anderson to Utah State. That should allow him to have much more comfort and the potential for more immediate success than most transfer quarterbacks. Utah State went just 1-5 last season, but the season had all sorts of challenges with internal Covid issues forcing the cancellation of a game while another game was cancelled due to a player protest. Head coach Gary Andersen left the team after three games as well as not much went right and it showed in the results. Anderson has a 51-37 career record and with Bonner in tow the Aggies could be a mild surprise, as this was an 11-2 team in 2018 and has generally been an above average Mountain West team in the last decade.
Bailey Zappe (From Houston Baptist to Western Kentucky)
Zappe has generated a big buzz now leading Tyson Helton’s offense at Western Kentucky. Zappe set all sorts of records at Houston Baptist, averaging 458 passing yards per game in an Air Raid style offense. The Hilltoppers had a slow start last season but won their final three Conference USA games and they line up as a possible team on the rise in the conference for 2021. Zappe could quickly emerge on the national passing leaderboards if he lives up to the hype and the Hilltoppers have a pair of Big Ten non-conference tests early in the year for showcase opportunities. In Conference USA the Hilltoppers are also a serious contender in the East division and the schedule is favorable for a strong bowl season.
Here are a few other transfer quarterbacks that are worth watching, all of which have a likely path to a starting role at their new school:
Ryan Hilinski (From South Carolina to Northwestern)
Tanner Mordecai (From Oklahoma to SMU)
N’Kosi Perry (From Miami, FL to Florida Atlantic)
Chase Brice (From Duke to Appalachian State)
Jacob Sirmon (From Washington to Central Michigan)
D’Wan Mathis (From Georgia to Temple)
Bailey Hockman (From NC State to Middle Tennessee State)
Also worth mentioning is that notable transfers will be fighting for starting roles at several major conference programs including Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, and Arizona. It is too soon to say whether those jobs will be won however.