Top Transfer QBs to Watch During 2022 Spring Games
Although a few thousand college football players have entered the transfer portal this offseason, quarterbacks are the headliners.
That's not a surprise, considering no individual player can bolster a program quite like a signal-caller. And the 2022 portal class has a handful of big names, including onetime Oklahoma stars Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler, former UCF standout Dillon Gabriel and 2021 5-star recruit Quinn Ewers.
The spring game provides the first widely available preview of these quarterbacks in their new spot.
The list is ordered alphabetically.
Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss
Jaxson Dart soared onto the national radar with a 391-yard, four-touchdown day when he replaced an injured Kedon Slovis against Washington State last season.
Naturally, then, Dart's hype train rapidly picked up steam as he left USC to play for Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss. The Rebels tied a program record with 10 victories in 2021, and quarterback Matt Corral's departure has left an opening for Dart to start immediately.
He needs to win a position battle, though.
Dart's main adversary is Luke Altmyer, who stepped in for Corral during the Sugar Bowl last season. The spring portion of the competition in Oxford ends with the April 23 scrimmage.
Quinn Ewers, Texas
Quinn Ewers is the least experienced QB featured here. In fact, he didn't make an appearance for Ohio State in 2021 after reclassifying and heading to college one year early.
But the unknown is part of the excitement, right?
Ewers left Ohio State and returned home to Texas, where he joined the Longhorns and promptly created an interesting QB battle. Casey Thompson transferred to Nebraska, but Hudson Card—who initially won the job in 2021—is back for UT.
As the No. 1 overall prospect in his graduating class, Ewers is the flashier name. Card, however, faced a similar outlook last offseason and edged Thompson for the job.
Ewers and Card will take center stage at the spring game on April 23.
Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma
In 2019, onetime UCF star McKenzie Milton spent his first of two seasons recovering from a terrible knee injury. His replacement was little-known freshman Dillon Gabriel.
Gabriel soon built a strong reputation as he finished the campaign with 3,653 yards passing and 29 touchdowns. The left-hander guided the Knights to another 10-win season, and he did so under the direction of offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
Lebby accepted the Ole Miss OC job following that season, but he and Gabriel are reunited at Oklahoma.
Already named OU's starter for 2022, Gabriel—like Dart and Ewers—will close the spring on April 23.
Max Johnson, Texas A&M
Max Johnson put a twist on "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." During the 2021 regular-season finale with LSU, the southpaw threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns to beat Texas A&M 27-24.
And within three weeks, he transferred to A&M.
Johnson, though, has a challenging path to the starting job. Haynes King earned QB1 status last year before a leg injury ended his season in September. Plus, the Aggies signed 5-star Conner Weigman in the 2022 class, and he enrolled early.
Considering the upside of this Texas A&M team, the April 9 scrimmage will command plenty of attention as Johnson and Weigman make their unofficial team debuts.
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Spencer Rattler put together a hugely promising season in 2020, throwing for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns while helping Oklahoma win a sixth straight Big 12 title.
But a slow start to 2021 sent Rattler to the sideline, and he served as Caleb Williams' backup for the rest of the regular season. In early December, Rattler entered the portal and landed with South Carolina—which is coached by Shane Beamer, who was an OU assistant prior to becoming the Gamecocks' head coach last year.
Rattler is fully expected to earn the starting nod, given his previous experience and South Carolina's troubles at the position last year. Still, he needs to officially beat out returning QB Luke Doty.
South Carolina wraps up spring practice with the April 16 exhibition.
Kedon Slovis, Pitt
Kenny Pickett assembled a stunning year in 2021, rising from a mid-level quarterback to an ACC champion and third-place finisher in Heisman Trophy voting. He set single-season and career program records in both passing yards and touchdowns.
No pressure, Kedon Slovis!
Granted, the QB1 label probably isn't close to settled. Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi recently gave no indication of a timeline to expect the winner of the competition between Slovis and Nick Patti.
It's a safe bet, however, that Pitt supporters will be analyzing every throw from Slovis and Patti during the April 9 scrimmage.
Cameron Ward, Washington State
The newcomer to the FBS level is Cameron Ward, who played two seasons at FCS school Incarnate Word.
Ward chose Washington State, which needed a quarterback after starter Jayden de Laura entered the portal and soon picked Arizona. Wazzu was also an obvious option for Ward because Eric Morris—his head coach at IWU—had accepted an offer in December to coordinate Washington State's offense.
Barring a major surprise, Ward will be the Cougars' starter in 2022. Victor Gabalis started in the Sun Bowl, but he's only attempted 36 passes in college; Ward threw 71 touchdowns at IWU.
Washington State's spring game is part of the packed April 23 slate.
Caleb Williams, USC
The moment Lincoln Riley bolted Oklahoma for USC, the college football world expected Caleb Williams to follow suit. He stayed with the Sooners through the Alamo Bowl but entered the portal less than a week later for what seemed like a formality.
Although his decision took longer than anticipated, Williams rejoined Riley at USC.
And they have a fascinating outlook in 2022.
Williams has the upside of a championship-caliber QB. He proved as much with 2,347 yards of total offense and by accounting for 27 touchdowns while tossing only four interceptions as a true freshman. Riley is likely to rebuild USC into a championship threat, but the current roster—even after a busy transfer cycle—is still flawed.
April 23 will offer the first look at Riley, Williams and the new-look Trojans, and ESPN is set to broadcast the scrimmage.