5 Early CFB Transfer Ideas for Big-Name QBs Who Will Lose Key Position Battles
Position battles are tough, and they can have gut-wrenching impacts on the losers, especially when they're college kids. That's why the college football transfer portal has been so active recently.
It's easier than ever to head to another school, and it's getting more common for players to gain instant eligibility soon after. That's especially the case with quarterbacks since only one can play at a time.
The wear and tear of football necessitates multiple running backs to play. More than one receiver is normally on the field at the same time, and players at the other positions on both sides of the ball can transition to other spots more easily.
But college football is going to feature a bunch of quarterbacks transferring every season; it's just the nature of the game.
In some cases—like Michigan's and Florida's battles—there's probably enough opportunity remaining for the backup to stick around. For instance, Emory Jones likely won't beat out Kyle Trask, but Jones will have a few seasons of eligibility remaining, so he's likely to hang around Gainesville and wait his turn.
Joe Milton may not beat out Dylan McCaffrey right away, but McCaffrey plays a reckless style that could lead to injury, and Milton is an uber-talented prospect who could bet on his ability down the road.
Here's a prediction of five players who will lose their position battles and decide to head elsewhere, along with some perfect destinations for each.
James Blackman, QB, Florida State
It's always difficult for the incumbent when a new coach gives extra-long looks to "his" guys. It's even tougher when the player coming back isn't a star.
That's the case with rising Florida State junior James Blackman, who wasn't recruited by Mike Norvell and is coming off a season where he completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,339 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Blackman already entered the transfer portal once last offseason before heading back to Tallahassee and winning the job. He'll be the favorite to start again entering the spring, but Norvell brought in two signal-callers in the 2020 class.
One of them is 3-star Tate Rodemaker, and he is already on campus and preparing to battle Blackman for the starting gig in an environment where everybody has a clean slate. Things get even more interesting this summer when 4-star Chubba Purdy enters the picture.
Purdy is the younger brother of Iowa State starter Brock Purdy, and he flipped to the Seminoles from Louisville, which was the biggest recruiting victory of Norvell's short tenure at FSU.
Those things carry weight, and Blackman may not be the most talented quarterback on campus anymore.
If he loses the job, look for him to head down the road to Tampa, where he could tidy things up for new South Florida head coach Jeff Scott, the former Clemson offensive coordinator who will run an exciting brand of football for the Bulls.
USF has Jordan McCloud, North Carolina transfer Cade Fortin, 4-star prospect Jordan Smith and 3-star prospect Katravis Moss already on the roster, but Blackman could battle McCloud and give the others time to get acclimated.
JT Daniels, QB, USC
The USC quarterback race isn't getting enough headlines.
JT Daniels is not far removed from being one of the top-rated high school signal-callers in the country, and he won the starting job last year before he went down in the opener with a season-ending knee injury.
Daniels' biggest problem is Kedon Slovis.
Slovis came out of nowhere and was a revelation for the Trojans, displaying the type of skill set and moxie needed to be a star in Los Angeles. He jelled extremely well with offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, and it's going to take a momentous effort to knock him off that perch.
Don't expect Daniels to do it, no matter how good he is. The redshirt sophomore has a wealth of potential, but he hasn't built the rapport with Harrell that Slovis has. Plus, Slovis looks like a star-in-the-making and one of the top 10 returning quarterbacks in the nation.
If Daniels decides to leave, he'll be one of the biggest transfers on the market.
From nearby Mater Dei, it would not be surprising to see him go to UCLA, but he doesn't fit Chip Kelly's system. Cross-country treks to Georgia or LSU would be intriguing destinations, and those schools could go after him to bridge the gap to the younger generation.
But he instead might head north to Palo Alto to play for head coach David Shaw and the Stanford Cardinal.
It would be uncommon for Shaw to take a high-profile transfer unless he is a major cultural fit, but the duo are familiar with one another. Daniels heavily considered the Cardinal, along with Michigan and Washington, before deciding to Fight On.
If he elects to move on, he could take over for Davis Mills and have a terrific career.
Tanner Mordecai, QB, Oklahoma
Late in Oklahoma's blowout loss against LSU in the Peach Bowl, head coach Lincoln Riley inserted true freshman Spencer Rattler to get some reps against the eventual national champions.
Everybody saw backup quarterback Tanner Mordecai's reaction caught on television cameras, and it led to much speculation about his future.
When everything cleared and emotions cooled, Mordecai chose to return to Norman. But with Rattler expected to be the future and having four years of eligibility remaining, Mordecai's days with the Sooners may be numbered.
The former 4-star prospect would have a lot of suitors if he elected to go elsewhere.
Mordecai could head somewhere like Ole Miss, where Lane Kiffin is a quality developer of quarterbacks, or Mississippi State, where he can post video game numbers for Mike Leach. Georgia could bring him in as a one-year stopgap until D'Wan Mathis, Carson Beck and Brock Vandergriff are ready.
But Mordecai's best option would be to head home to Waco, Texas, and play for coach Dave Aranda at Baylor. Charlie Brewer is entering his final year as the Bears starter, and there is no proven talent behind him.
Mordecai could head back where he has family and a support system, remain in the Big 12 and still have a strong college career. Baylor would likely jump at the opportunity to add quality depth, too.
Jacob Sirmon, QB, Washington
A lot of eyes are going to be on Oregon this year as the Ducks try to replace Justin Herbert with either Tyler Shough or 4-star freshman Jay Butterfield, but it would be a surprise if anybody but Shough won that job.
So, let's stay in the Pacific Northwest, where another intriguing battle will be waged to replace a player who's off to the NFL. That would be the Washington Huskies ushering in the Jimmy Lake era and looking to replace Jacob Eason.
The loser of that race is going to be a quality quarterback who will either stay around and provide reliable depth or head elsewhere. Most of the early predictions (such as this one from the Seattle Times' Mike Vorel) have redshirt sophomore Jacob Sirmon as the safest bet for the starting gig.
Not so fast. Though Sirmon is an athletic, 6'5" signal-caller who has a lot of potential, Dylan Morris is a local hero who has the arm strength, mobility and leadership qualities to sneak in there and steal the position from Sirmon and incoming elite freshman Ethan Garbers.
Morris was one of the top-rated pro-style passers in the nation coming out of high school, and though he's just a shade over 6'0", he plays bigger and better. He was the scout team MVP as a freshman while redshirting in '19, according to The Husky Haul's Roman Tomashoff.
He's the optimal Chris Petersen quarterback. And though Petersen isn't around anymore, Lake learned under him, and it's a safe bet there will be similarities in how things are run under the new head coach.
So, what will happen if Sirmon doesn't win the job? He'll almost certainly leave after first entering the transfer portal before last season and electing to return to Washington. He could really stick it to the Huskies if he transferred to rival Washington State, but that probably won't happen.
Instead, he could go to Oregon State and become head coach Jonathan Smith's next Jake Luton.
Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
In a storybook universe, Taulia Tagovailoa would step right in for brother Tua, keep the last-name legacy going strong in Tuscaloosa and lead Alabama to another national title or two.
Head coach Nick Saban deals in reality, though, instead of nice stories, and he's going to play the best quarterback. That's why the younger Tagovailoa, as well as Bear Bryant's great-grandson, Paul Tyson, could find themselves on the outside looking in at the quarterback battle in 2020 and moving forward.
Mac Jones was inserted into the starting lineup when Tua was lost for the season in '19, and he should take the first snap this fall as the odds-on favorite to start the season under center. But 5-star Bryce Young is a dynamic force who could be yet another generational recruiting victory for Saban.
If Young is all he's cracked up to be right away and Jones remains a steady force who seems on track to keep his job, Tagovailoa should look to leave. There have already been some rumors about his potential transfer, though it's all speculation at this point.
The elder Tagovailoa even addressed his brother's transfer rumors this offseason, according to CBS Sports' Ben Kercheval. All that could change if it looks like the Taulia going to be buried on the depth chart.
LSU and Tennessee were in the mix for the younger Tagovailoa's signature before he elected to join a crowded quarterback room in Tuscaloosa, and both could be in the mix to get him if he decides to move on.
But an intriguing destination would be Miami, where D'Eriq King will be slotted into the starting role as a graduate transfer for one season in 2020. The King news prompted Jarren Williams to enter the transfer portal, and neither N'Kosi Perry or Tate Martell inspires much confidence.
If there's one thing you can say about Miami head coach Manny Diaz so far, it's that the man knows how to work the transfer portal to his advantage, and South Beach has a ton to sell. The younger Tagovailoa could forge his own path for the Hurricanes. It makes even more sense if the Miami Dolphins draft Tua, too, doesn't it?
Then the Tagovailoa family can pack up and move from Alabama to South Florida.
All recruiting information via 247Sports.