5 College Football Players Most Likely to Transfer by This Offseason
It would seem prudent for fans to take a "no news is good news" approach to the college football offseason, as games cannot be won but players can transfer or run into other issues.
In fact, aside from recruiting, rarely does anything positive happen between January and August. Sure, teams are often reported to be "coming together" and you always hope that guys will stay healthy, but those things are sort of expected. You don't celebrate your team exiting spring practices without any major injuries the way you might celebrate a regular-season victory.
But, as is often the case, the offseason is zany and unpredictable. One part of the madness that you can count on, however, is players transferring. Whether it's a big-name star or a highly touted backup who hasn't received enough playing time, guys are always in search of the best opportunity for themselves and their future, and sometimes that means venturing off to another school.
Here's a look at five players who could be transferring in the offseason.
All stats via cfbstats.com. Please note that these are merely predictions based on each player's situation.
Washington QB Jeff Lindquist
One of the most common reasons for transferring is a lack of playing time or a less-than-ideal spot on the depth chart. Thus, we're predicting a move for Washington quarterback Jeff Lindquist, who will head into the Huskies' spring practices as the likely backup behind Cyler Miles.
For Lindquist, a move would make a lot of sense. To start, he and Miles came in during the same recruiting cycle, and assuming future playing time also assumes that Miles either won't play well or will be so great that he'll head to the NFL early.
But if he has a normal college career, improves steadily and holds down the starting job, Lindquist won't ever get to truly show what he's got other than in mop-up duty, and the playbook is usually pretty closed at that point.
However, players don't just transfer because other guys are ahead of them. Players transfer because they feel like they're good enough to make more of an impact somewhere else. Lindquist is 6'3", 230 pounds and was rated the ninth-best pro-style quarterback in his class by 247Sports' composite rankings.
With that frame, Lindquist has ideal size to play the quarterback position, and he's fairly agile as well. The redshirt freshman also had an offer from Stanford coming out of high school.
Where he would opt to continue his career is anyone's guess. But the writing seems to be on the wall about the future of Miles at quarterback, and if that's the case, Lindquist might find a much better opportunity somewhere else.
Alabama RB Dee Hart
Too many running backs is a problem every college coach would like to have, but along with it typically comes a transfer or two.
For Alabama's Dee Hart, a move elsewhere might be the best decision at this point in his career. He had just 22 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown in 2013.
Let's begin with the depth chart, where Hart is outside the top three. Those top three happen to be T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and, in all likelihood heading into the 2014 season, Derrick Henry. Each of those guys returns, and though it may be Yeldon's last year, Henry is heading into just his sophomore season.
Ask any Crimson Tide fan and they'll tell you that Henry is the guy on that list with the most potential to become an absolute nightmare, which shouldn't take away from Drake, who had 694 yards rushing and eight touchdowns of his own in 2013.
Last spring, Saban experimented a bit with Hart on defense, so perhaps we'll see that idea reemerge this offseason.
But if not, Hart is going to have a tough time making any headway on the Tide's depth chart. The backs ahead of him are a lethal combination of proven runners and potential superstars. If the goal is to make it to the NFL, which we'll assume is the case for the former 4-star recruit (per 247Sports), getting noticed just doesn't appear to be in the cards at Alabama.
Because of that, don't be surprised to see Hart look elsewhere for playing time, which could allow him to make some noise and improve his NFL prospects.
California RB Brendan Bigelow
Running back Brendan Bigelow entered the 2013 season as Cal's starting running back, but he may be entering 2014 on another team entirely.
Update: Thursday, Jan. 6th, at 9:30 a.m. PT
Bigelow has declared for the NFL draft, per Jeremy Fowler of CBS.
--End of update--
At the top of the list of issues is the fact that Bigelow is in a Bears offense that features the passing game a lot more than the rushing attack. That's Sonny Dykes' style, and with him at the helm, it isn't going to change.
Also take into consideration the fact that Bigelow was replaced by freshman Khalfani Muhammad in October as the team's starting back.
On 32 fewer carries, Muhammad rushed for 20 yards more than Bigelow on the season to go along with two more scores.
Bigelow was a solid 4-star prospect coming out of high school, so regression wasn't something many people expected. In fact, in 2012, Bigelow had a four-carry, 160-yard performance at Ohio State, a team that went undefeated that season.
But he's been demoted to the backup spot behind a younger player in an offense that doesn't exactly need multiple backs. Dykes probably doesn't mind the extra talent, but running backs just don't get utilized in his system the way they do in other programs.
Perhaps Dykes will promise Bigelow a few more touches and he'll regain his spot as the featured back. But that doesn't seem nearly as likely as the junior finding time somewhere else.
Oklahoma QB Kendal Thompson
Oklahoma struggled to find an answer at quarterback throughout the 2013 season and seem poised to enter the offseason with a wide-open competition for the starting spot.
Then came the Sugar Bowl, where Trevor Knight said, "I'll take it and hold on to it, thank you very much."
While you never want to take too much away from a lone performance, Knight threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns against a tough Alabama defense. It's safe to say that not only is the starting gig his, but he'll head into 2014 as one of the premier players to watch in the Big 12, if not the nation.
So we arrive at sophomore quarterback Kendal Thompson, now third on the depth chart behind Knight and Blake Bell. A former 3-star recruit, Thompson has the dual-threat abilities that are so highly coveted in today's game.
With the depth chart relatively crowded ahead of him and Knight poised to potentially become one of the best signal-callers in the country, there isn't much of a future for Thompson at Oklahoma.
Thus, if he wants to show off his skills and test his abilities in meaningful game action, he'll likely have to do it for another program. With a couple years left of eligibility, he'll have time to do exactly that. If he doesn't, it's going to be difficult to make any significant on-the-field contributions where he's at now.
USC QB Max Wittek
You could probably think of a few reasons why USC quarterback Max Wittek should stay put. He has a big arm, he'll have a chance to impress new head coach Steve Sarkisian in the offseason and starter Cody Kessler had a relatively mixed year on the field.
There are more reasons why he should leave, however, and like the other players on this list, they begin and end with playing time.
Sure, Kessler didn't light the world on fire and there's reason to believe he'll have to play well in spring and fall camp to keep his spot. But he improved steadily in the second half of the season and finished the year with nearly 3,000 yards passing and 20 touchdowns. If the job isn't already his, he has a major leg up.
But even then, it's not as if Wittek is automatically the next man up. He'll be battling with redshirt freshman Max Browne, a former 5-star recruit who was sought after by nearly every big-name program in the country. You can bet that Browne will have his sights set on the starting spot as well.
Hiring Sarkisian may have thrown a wrench into the idea of Wittek transferring, because if he can win favor with the new coach, it could mean more playing time in 2014. But it's more likely that either Kessler will keep his spot or Browne will take over as the next big thing, and in each scenario, Wittek is the odd man out.
At another program, Wittek could be an instant star and get a chance to really shine.