Back to school season brings new pencils, new notebooks, and, of course, new kids.
Transfers in college football have gained a new level of momentum and importance, especially in the quarterback spot. The so-called “transfer portal” is almost akin to the NBA or NFL’s free agent frenzies at this point. Notably, the starting quarterbacks from two of the previous four national title teams have changed helmets. Former Clemson Tigers thrower Kelly Bryant moved on to Missouri, while Alabama’s Jalen Hurts ventures to Oklahoma.
The Tigers have impacted the grander scale of college football in more ways than one. Thanks to Trevor Lawrence’s magical debut year, freshman quarterbacks are now more trusted than ever.
Excluding our aforementioned champions … who’s next?
Sean Clifford/Will Levis, Penn State
The Nittany Lions have yet to name a starting quarterback for their opener against Idaho. Their post-Trace McSorley situation became a bit chaotic when presumed starter Tommy Stevens opted to transfer, leaving a battle of inexperienced understudies in his wake.
Clifford has gotten a majority of snaps thus far in summer practices, but head coach James Franklin is fulfilling his due diligence when it comes to Levis. Penn State’s coaching staff has been mum on who has the upper hand. An easy opening pair (Another home tilt with Buffalo awaits after the Vandals) will allow them a brief recess.
Matt Corral, Mississippi
Firmly entrenched in Oxford after de-committing from Florida, the sophomore Corral takes over for Jordan Ta’amu. Corral has big shoes to fill and the Rebels’ top three receivers aren’t coming back. He did show brief potential while working with the second-team unit in late blowouts. Notably, Corral gave a sign of what was potentially to come by completing 10-of-10 passes for 173 yards and two scores in a 70-21 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
Hunter Johnson, Northwestern
The Wildcats are in a most unusual position to enter 2019: they’re the defending Big Ten West division champions and, for the first time in four years, are sans Clayton Thorson under center.
Johnson served as Bryant’s backup at Clemson during the Tigers’ 2017 College Football Playoff push. He transferred to Evanston and sat out the whole 2018 season during Thorson’s farewell tour. Opportunities were limited at Clemson, but the dual-threat Johnson brings plenty of accolades with him. The Brownsburg High School alum won Indiana’s Mr. Football Award in 2016 before taking home the 2017 All-American Bowl’s MVP award. Previous honorees at the high school all-star game include Vince Young, Terrelle Pryor, and Shea Patterson.
Austin Kendall, West Virginia
Kendall looked decent in mop-up duty over two seasons at Oklahoma. Trapped on a depth chart behind Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, he got out of Norman when the Sooners went all-in on Hurts. He takes over for the NFL-bound Will Grier.
It’s easy to forget that Kendall was a four-star prospect out of North Carolina upon his college entry. He finally has an opportunity to prove he can hang with the Big 12’s best. The graduate transfer gets a big opportunity to show Norman what they’re missing when the Mountaineers travel there on October 19.
Bo Nix, Auburn
SEC football. An opening weekend game against Oregon. Following in your father’s footsteps in one of the most sought-after jobs in the south. And you thought your first day on campus was awkward!
The true freshman was recently named Auburn’s new starter, nearly two decades after his father Patrick began his own Tiger tenure at quarterback. Making impacts on the Alabama football scene is nothing new for Nix. During his at Pinson Valley, the junior Nix set new state records in total yardage and touchdowns (161).