Before the college football season even began this fall, the 2019 theme already had emerged: It was the year of the transfer quarterback.
With the institution of the NCAA transfer portal along with the old-standard graduate transfer rule granting immediate eligibility, programs swapped signal callers left and right all offseason.
Now that the season is about halfway through, here are some transfer quarterbacks from across the country who have stood out so far:
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
Burrow was a bit ahead of the curve, transferring from Ohio State before the 2018 season to become LSU’s starter. In his final season, he is second in the FBS with 1,864 passing yards and tied for second with 22 touchdowns. He tops the list in completion percentage (78.4). LSU is undefeated at 5-0 this year, ranked No. 5. With Burrow, the Tigers are also second in the FBS with 416 passing yards per game and first by averaging nearly 55 points per game.
2. Shane Buechele, SMU
The former Texas quarterback slowly fell out of favor, starting every game his freshman year, seven as a sophomore and then appearing in only two as a junior. After transferring to SMU, he’s led the team to a resurgence, helping the program to its first national ranking since receiving the NCAA “death penalty” in the 1980s. The junior is fifth in the nation with 1,665 passing yards and has completed 132 of 197 passes, including 12 touchdowns.
3. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Hurts was 26-2 as Alabama’s starter and led the team to the College Football Playoff championship his first two seasons, but he lost his job to Tua Tagovailoa. Starting again at Oklahoma this season, he’s completed 82 of 109 throws for 1,523 yards and 14 touchdowns. The senior has also amassed 499 rushing yards for seven scores to keep the Sooners unbeaten.
4. Justin Fields, Ohio State
Fields went from Jake Fromm’s backup at Georgia to Ohio State’s starter. He joined new coach Ryan Day in establishing a new era for the Buckeyes. But while the personnel is different, the results are the same. Ohio State is 6-0 and packed with talent. Fields has thrown only one interception all year, passing for 18 touchdowns and rushing for another eight more. He’s gone 98 of 141 for 1,298 yards, plus another 283 on the ground. Fields also has two more years of eligibility left.
5. Jacob Eason, Washington
Another former Georgia quarterback, Eason’s ill-timed injury gave Fromm an opportunity that turned into a full-time job. So Eason transferred to the West Coast, sitting out 2018, and put together a record-setting debut for the Huskies, going 27 of 36 for 349 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-14 victory against Eastern Washington. While the Huskies are 4-2, the junior still ranks in the top 20 for FBS quarterbacks.
Megan Ryan covers the Gophers and college football for the Star Tribune. Twitter: @theothermegryan E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org