Brandon Harris made headlines this week with the announcement that he is leaving LSU in search of more playing time. The class of 2014 signee entered the 2016 season as the starter, but was benched in favor of Purdue transfer Danny Etling. With Etling returning, as well as a pair of highly rated freshmen coming in, Harris figured his best opportunity was to finish his career elsewhere.
Harris is far from alone. In the 2012-15 recruiting classes, 36 SEC quarterbacks eventually went elsewhere looking for playing time, with varying levels of success.
Here’s how those four recent classes compare by the numbers:
QBs signed by SEC: 16
NSD signees who graduated from SEC school: 6
Graduated as quarterback: 3
Transfers: 11 (Kentucky signee Patrick Towles used graduate transfer)
The 2012 class can be uniquely counted because these careers are over, with the possible exception of Matt Davis, a former Texas A&M signee who transferred to SMU and suffered a season-ending injury early in the 2016 season. Davis could possibly receive a sixth year of eligibility.
Out of the 16 signees, only Bo Wallace (Ole Miss), Perry Orth (South Carolina) and Towles (pictured) can really say they spent their college years as SEC quarterbacks from enrollment to graduation. There were a couple position changes among the SEC grads, as Auburn moved Jonathan Wallace to receiver and Kentucky’s Jeff Witthuhn became a fullback.
Of the 11 transfers, five finished their careers as starting quarterbacks:
- Patrick Towles, Boston College (Kentucky)
- Jalen Whitlow, Eastern Illinois (Kentucky)
- Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh (Tennessee)
- Matt Davis, SMU (Texas A&M)
- Skyler Mornhinweg, Columbia (Florida)
QBs signed: 23 (Vanderbilt’s Chad Kanoff changed decision after signing)
Graduated from same school: 6
Graduated as SEC team’s starting QB: 1 (Josh Dobbs, Tennessee)
Active SEC starting QBs: 1 (Austin Allen, Arkansas)
Signed with baseball minor leagues: 2 (Texas A&M’s Kohl Stewart, Mississippi State’s Cord Sandberg)
Aside from the baseball minor leaguers, the other 20 signees who enrolled with SEC schools all hoped to be career starters. The only SEC starter to graduate from the class is Dobbs, with Allen likely joining him after a fifth year.
Of the 13 transfers, only three are documented successes. Anthony Jennings became Louisiana Lafayette’s starter after leaving LSU. Former Tennessee signee Riley Ferguson is considered Memphis’ top quarterback. Former Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill started for TCU this past season.
The jury is still out on a pair of active transfers: Former Alabama QB Cooper Bateman has landed at Utah and former MSU QB Damian Williams announced in December that he’s heading to Texas State.
QBs signed: 15
Actively on SEC rosters: 6
Current SEC starters: 3
Even though all 15 signees are three years removed from high school graduation, none has made the jump to the NFL after their junior or redshirt sophomore seasons. Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State), Drew Barker (Kentucky) and Sean White (Auburn) are the three SEC starters, though White might lose his starting job this spring.
There have been eight transfers, with four involving other FBS programs: Kyle Allen (Texas A&M to Houston), Will Grier (Florida to West Virginia), Rafe Peavey (Arkansas to SMU) and Jacob Park (Georgia to Iowa State), having already taken place. Allen, Grier and Peavey all sat out this past season as part of transfer rules.
Alabama QB David Cornwell announced he was transferring prior to this past season’s College Football Playoff, and has signed on at Nevada. A pair of 2014 signees, Elijah Staley (Mississippi State) and Kendrick Doss (Ole Miss), have gone the junior college route in their transfers.
Harris is reportedly deciding on his next school.
QBs signed: 15
Actively on SEC rosters: 9
Current SEC starters: 2 (does not include UT starting WR Jauan Jennings)
The 2015 class is notably low on transfers, but that could change if some of the backups don’t see playing time in their future. Signees from this class at Arkansas (Ty Storey), Auburn (Tyler Queen), LSU (Justin McMillan), Tennessee (Sheriron Jones, Quentin Dormady) and Texas A&M (Jake Hubenak) are all on the active rosters, but haven’t been named starters.
There are a pair of active starers from the class: Missouri’s Drew Lock and Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur. The biggest success story, Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, is off to the NFL.
The class had a pair of high-profile transfers by Blake Barnett (Alabama to Arizona State) and Kyler Murray (Texas A&M to Oklahoma). Former South Carolina QB Lorenzo Nunez and Mississippi State’s Nick Tiano also left to find a better fit.