Transfer Watch: College Football QBs Who May Bolt If They Don't Win Jobs in 2017
Becoming a starting quarterback in college football is difficult. And since there's only one position for a signal-caller, anyone in a backup role may consider looking for a different opportunity.
For some, that's a product of using three or four years of eligibility without much success on the depth chart. Or, in some cases, the player once started for a program but is likely to—or at least could—lose his No. 1 job in 2017.
While peeking ahead to 2018 offseason, we're highlighting eight quarterbacks who might switch schools.
Potential graduate transfers were the main focus since they can make an immediate impact, but third-year players with unfavorable outlooks are also included on the list.
Manny Wilkins, Arizona State
What's the story: Manny Wilkins threw 311 passes last season, but his starting job isn't safe. Blake Barnett transferred from Alabama, putting Wilkins—a redshirt junior—in a precarious spot. If Barnett wins the spot, Wilkins might not regain it.
QB battle breakdown: The NCAA approved a waiver that allows Barnett to play immediately, so Wilkins is no longer the starter by default for September. This is really a two-man competition, though Brady White, Ryan Kelley and Dillon Sterling-Cole are on the roster.
Chances to start: After the spring, neither Barnett nor Wilkins had separated himself enough for coaches to reveal anything. Calling it 50-50 is understandably lame, but both players have a real opportunity to start the season opener. However, it wouldn't be a surprise if Arizona State flips to Barnett at the first sign of extended struggles even if Wilkins initially starts.
Sean White, Auburn
What's the story: In both 2015 and 2016, Sean White split snaps behind center. Last year, though, he received a much larger share and was safely considered the starter. His problem is Auburn brought in Jarrett Stidham, a former 5-star recruit who left Baylor last summer.
QB battle breakdown: White missed part of spring practice while recovering from a broken right arm, and Stidham took full advantage. Per Brandon Marcello of 247Sports, White admitted after the spring game that Stidham "probably has a little bit of an edge."
Chances to start: Barring injury, it's highly unlikely White will retain his starting job. Stidham offers considerably higher upside for a program hoping to dethrone Alabama and contend for a national championship. White will be a valuable backup, but that's obviously not his preferred role.
Kelly Bryant, Clemson
What's the story: Kelly Bryant only played scattered snaps while watching Deshaun Watson lead Clemson to consecutive national title appearances. If Bryant cannot hold off highly touted 4-star Hunter Johnson in 2017, though, it's difficult to project anyone other than he or 2018 5-star verbal commit Trevor Lawrence as the QB of the future.
QB battle breakdown: Exiting the spring, head coach Dabo Swinney called Bryant the No. 1 guy if the Tigers had to play today. "But we don't play today," he said, according to ESPN's David M. Hale. Zerrick Cooper and Johnson remain in the wide-open chase.
Chances to start: Bryant probably has the best odds to begin the season as the starter, given his prior experience and the tempered yet public support from Swinney. What's most intriguing about this competition is who ends the campaign behind center.
Luke Del Rio, Florida
What's the story: Luke Del Rio's college journey has included stops at Alabama, Oregon State and Florida, where he started six games in 2016. However, an underwhelming and injury-riddled year combined with an improving QB room has the redshirt junior facing a potential dilemma in the coming months.
QB battle breakdown: It took a while—partially for reasons out of his control—but Malik Zaire is officially with the Gators. That's not helping Del Rio, who while recovering from shoulder surgery fell behind Feleipe Franks during spring practice.
Chances to start: The ugly truth? Del Rio's chances are slim to none. Zaire and Franks should have an entertaining battle in the fall when Del Rio returns, but his main appeal of previous starting experience isn't better than Zaire's limited action.
J.J. Cosentino, Florida State
What's the story: Other than a brief appearance in the 2015 Peach Bowl, J.J. Cosentino has only appeared in blowouts and tossed 19 passes. But as a former 4-star, he's likely to garner attention as a grad transfer if that route is ultimately preferable.
QB battle breakdown: Deondre Francois is locked in as the starter. Neither Cosentino nor Bailey Hockman will somehow surge past Francois on the depth chart, so the main battle is between those backups for the second-string role.
Chances to start: This part is obvious. Barring injury, it's zero percent. But what about next season? Francois could declare early for the NFL, leaving Cosentino, Hockman and a potential 2018 signee to compete for the starting job. However, if Francois stays, Cosentino may consider using his final year of eligibility elsewhere.
Malik Rosier, Miami
What's the story: Malik Rosier spent the last two seasons as a backup, starting once in 2015 because of a concussion to Brad Kaaya. Rosier's two-touchdown performance suggests he has a future as a starter in college, but the redshirt junior isn't an obvious choice for Miami due to a promising true freshman.
QB battle breakdown: The spring featured a competition between Rosier, Evan Shirreffs and Jack Allison but brought no resolution. Per Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post, head coach Mark Richt called Rosier and Shirreffs co-No. 1s. Allison ended up transferring, but Richt also told WQAM-560AM (h/t Habib) the 'Canes are "dang sure" they're going to look at 4-star N'Kosi Perry, who arrived this summer.
Chances to start: Similar to Clemson, the major story isn't necessarily the season-opening guy, since Rosier is the favorite to start in September. Richt, however, could turn to Perry midway through the year if the offense needs a spark.
Jalan McClendon, North Carolina State
What's the story: A 4-star prospect in 2014, Jalan McClendon offers an exciting dual-threat skill set. It just hasn't been on display in more than small doses. Depending on how—or if—the NC State coaching staff utilizes him in 2017, the redshirt junior could seek his first starting opportunity at a different school.
QB battle breakdown: The Wolfpack should be content with their quarterback situation, which admittedly isn't ideal for McClendon. Ryan Finley returns after starting every game in 2016, so it's unwise to expect McClendon will remove the incumbent. He could contribute this fall as a package-specific player, though.
Chances to start: Finley graduated from Boise State in three years, and since an injury derailed a majority of two seasons, the NCAA has already granted him a sixth year of eligibility. Unless Finley puts together a sensational 2017 and bolts for the NFL, McClendon might consider using his fifth season in a more favorable spot.
Marcus McMaryion, Oregon State
What's the story: Over the last two seasons, Marcus McMaryion attempted 213 passes. After an injury ended Darell Garretson's 2016 campaign, McMaryion led Oregon State during the final six games. But as a redshirt junior in a three-man race that includes a touted JUCO transfer, McMaryion's future is in flux.
QB battle breakdown: McMaryion, Garretson and 2017 signee Jake Luton—who threw for 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns in junior college—competed this spring. None of them established themselves as the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback, so the Beavers will focus on resolving the battle during fall camp.
Chances to start: Per Gina Mizell of The Oregonian, head coach Gary Andersen said "I don't dislike where we are" after the spring. Though warning bells shouldn't be clanging in Corvallis, that's not exactly a vote of confidence from an outside perspective. McMaryion should start at some point, but Oregon State may have a revolving door at the position in 2017.
All recruiting information via Scout. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.