How Matt Davis Transferring Impacts Texas A&M's Future at QB

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2013

Former blue-chip recruit Matt Davis announced his transfer from Texas A&M on Thursday, leaving the Aggies for Tyler Junior College.

Davis was battling junior Matt Joeckel and freshman Kenny Hill for the right to back up Johnny Manziel in 2013. And given the turmoil surrounding Manziel's eligibility, there was more at stake in that battle than mere insurance.

Davis might have seen himself falling behind in the race and wanted to reset the pieces on his career. After redshirting last season, he'll play out the year at Tyler and look for a new FBS school next offseason.

But what does it all mean?

Note: All rankings courtesy of 247Sports Composite


The Player

Davis was expected to be a perfect fit in Kevin Sumlin's offense and the future at QB for Texas A&M. He was the No. 4 dual-threat QB and No. 122 player on 247Sports' composite in 2012.

Blessed with innate athleticism, Davis was always pegged as a bit of a project. His arm needed time to catch up to his legs, but it wasn't necessarily weak. The ability is there to make every throw in the book—he just needs to hone it.

Standing 6'2'', he has un-ideal but more-than-enough size to succeed at the FBS level. He just needs proper tutelage and experience to realize his physical gifts.

Not that this necessarily affects A&M, but it's worth noting yet another loss for the QB Class of 2012. CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman calls 2010 the "QB Class That Never Was," and while early, this one is slowly starting to follow suit.

No. 2 prospect Gunner Kiel transferred from Notre Dame to Cincinnati this offseason, costing himself (unwittingly) a chance to compete for the job once Everett Golson got suspended. No. 3 passer Zach Kline lost the QB battle at Cal to true freshman Jared Goff and No. 10 passer Chad Voytik lost the job at Pitt.

Davis becomes the third top-10 QB from 2012 to transfer, joining No. 8 passer Connor Brewer (Texas to Arizona) and No. 5 passer Anthony Alford (Southern Miss to Ole Miss).

Florida State's Jameis Winston is the only top-10 QB from the class projected to make an impact in 2013.


How Transfer Affects Texas A&M in 2013

That's a tough one to answer. It definitely has some effect on the Aggies' current season, but how much remains to be seen.

The stove has cooled on Manziel's autograph scandal—at least in the public realm—and it's slowly starting to look like he'll be eligible to play against Rice. But nothing about this story is concrete, and given the never-ending stream of signed memorabilia that keeps popping up, it would shock no one if Manziel was forced to sit out an extended period of time.

Davis' transfer affects (and immediately hinders) the quarterback depth in College Station, leaving just Joeckel and Hill as viable options behind Manziel. Should Johnny Football be forced out of action—be it via suspension, injury, etc.—A&M would have one less able body on its depth chart.

That said, Davis wasn't necessarily being counted on as the primary backup. That job, though not definite, was presumed to be Joeckel's. B/R's Michael Felder provides a comprehensive breakdown of Joeckel's prospects, just in case he needs to see action this year:

If Joeckel is pushed into action for the Aggies, the offense is going to run most of the same concepts it did a year ago with Manziel at the helm. The major difference will be quarterback-run action, but this is the same scheme that helped guys like [former Sumlin QB] Case Keenum put up big numbers at Houston, without the run-pass duality of Johnny Football.

Davis might have played more similarly to Manziel, but that doesn't automatically make him the better fit in Sumlin's Air Raid scheme. With his big frame and strong arm, Joeckel can give defenses headaches of his own—even if it's from the pocket.


How Transfer Affects A&M in 2014

Manziel could, technically, still be in College Station come 2014. But the notion of that is unlikely. Suspension or no suspension, he needs to get as far away as possible from a system that won't let him sell autographs.

Just to be safe.

Joeckel would be a senior and the likely favorite to start, even if he doesn't see action in 2013. He would still be the most experienced option in Sumlin's offense and still give A&M, ostensibly, the best chance to win.

He wouldn't be handed the job, though. If he doesn't play in 2013 (or plays, but not well), the competition would again be open to Hill—who would now be a true sophomore.

Davis' absence would be strongly felt in this QB battle. Even if he was falling behind in the race this fall, that doesn't mean he would always be left in the dust. "Upside" was always used to describe Davis as a prospect, so who's to say when everything would have clicked?

If Joeckel, as presumed, did win the job, Davis still would have battled Hill for the right to back him up. Competition begets improvement in young quarterbacks, so at the very least his presence would have been better for Hill's (and his own) development.


How Transfer Affects A&M in 2015

This is where things get dicey.

Manziel could, once again, technically still be an Aggie—but the thought of that is beyond farfetched. He and Joeckel will almost certainly have left College Station, leaving a void to be filled under center.

Hill has been a revelation this fall and looks the part of a capable player under Sumlin. He was a 4-star recruit out of Southlake, Texas last year, which is solid pedigree (though worse than Davis').

He would (most likely) be a true junior in 2015, whereas Davis would have been a redshirt junior battling him for roster position. But at the end of the day, neither of them might have been in line for the job.

Why? Class of 2014 commit Kyle Allen would be either a sophomore or redshirt freshman, and he's already been pegged as the (next) next great A&M quarterback. He's the No. 1-rated pro-style passer in 2014, and with a year in College Station already under his belt, he might be ready to make an impact.

It's unlikely he would be able to jump Joeckel or Hill in 2014, but with the depth chart in flux by his sophomore year, he should be given a shot to win the job.



Davis probably saw the writing on the wall. He was surrounded by one Heisman trophy winner, two other solid quarterbacks, and the nation's top recruit was on his way in. Feeling suffocated, like he might never get to see meaningful action, he left for greener pastures.

If Davis was right, which it looks like he might have been, his decision shouldn't hold too much bearing on A&M's future. He was being counted on for depth, but he wasn't being counted on to start.

Though he would have had the potential to win a job in 2014 and 2015—and though coaches would have loved to see him develop to a point where he could have—there were/are numerous other options in place.

The Aggies can stomach the loss of one blue-chip quarterback because their roster is loaded with others. It's not a good thing for the program, and if Davis thrives with a different FBS team, Sumlin & Co. might eventually kick themselves.

But for now, it doesn't appear to be world-shattering news.



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