An ideal fit for each SEC quarterback in the transfer portal
I’ll never fault a quarterback for entering the transfer portal.
The money at the next level is too rich for that. And while only a sliver of the quarterbacks in college will even earn a 7-figure NFL contract, I still can’t blame a quarterback for finding a place to play, no matter what he was rated as a recruit. Aaron Rodgers, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow know a thing or 2 about finding the right fit after transferring. Everyone wants to follow that.
That’s not my way of saying I expect any quarterbacks in the transfer portal to become Rodgers, Mayfield, Murray or Burrow, but hey, you never know.
I found new homes for SEC quarterbacks who are (as of Feb. 5) in the transfer portal. Here’s where I’d like to see each of them end up:
Cord Sandberg, Auburn
Best home — USF
A fun fact about Sandberg that you probably know already? He’s 26. A fun fact that you might not know? He was Dan Mullen’s only 4-star recruit from the state of Florida to sign with him while he was at MSU, and Sandberg instead opted to play Minor League Baseball. Now, the southpaw from Bradenton would love to find a place where he can finally start 8 years removed from being a high school recruit.
It’s hard to imagine anywhere in which Sandberg would be considered the obvious starter with just 9 career FBS passes. Close to his Bradenton home at USF, there’s a wide open quarterback room set to unfold following the Arizona transfer of multi-year starter Jordan McCloud. Miami transfer Jarren Williams joined USF, as did UNC transfer Cade Fortin. Sophomores Jordan Smith and Katravis Marsh also figure to get a crack at running Jeff Scott’s offense.
Still, Sandberg would have as good a shot as anyone to come out of camp as the starter, which would mean a couple of showcase opportunities against Power 5 teams like NC State and Florida.
Grant Tisdale, Ole Miss
Best home — Houston
Tisdale stayed at Ole Miss after the coaching change, but the former 4-star recruit ended up being the odd man out in a young, crowded quarterback room. It wasn’t that long ago that Ohio State wanted Tisdale as a big-time recruit coming out of Texas. Even if he had to sit a year at Houston, he’d be a nice addition for Dana Holgorsen. Tisdale, a Texas native, would enter a quarterback room that doesn’t have an option with his talent. Clayton Tune will enter Year 4 at Houston, where it’s been up and down replacing the incredibly prolific D’Eriq King.
Tisdale’s main competition besides Tune would be a Holgorsen’s son, Logan, who served as the backup in 2020 but has just 28 career pass attempts. Sofian Massoud and 2021 enrollee Maddox Kropp will also vie for the quarterback of the future in Holgorsen’s offense, which was far more explosive at West Virginia. Tisdale, who is former Texas state high school state champion, could thrive with Holgorsen at the controls. Or perhaps a reunion with Phil Longo at UNC to eventually replace Sam Howell would be more attractive for Tisdale.
Terry Wilson, Kentucky
Best home — Texas A&M
No, don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying Wilson would beat out Haynes King to win the starting job. Here’s what I am saying, though. In the event that King struggles or gets hurt, an A&M team loaded with proven skill-player returners would love to have a veteran like Wilson who has tons of SEC starting experience and is plenty capable of executing Jimbo Fisher’s offense as a true dual-threat guy. Wilson wasn’t a fit in Liam Coen’s new offense at Kentucky, and he decided to take advantage of the free year of eligibility. He’s entering Year 6 of college at his 4th different school.
There’s a decent chance that Wilson winds up playing at a smaller school closer to home in Oklahoma City, especially in the event that he wants to be a starter. But he’d be a smart depth add to Fisher’s quarterback room, which is extremely young and unproven. That’d be an attractive sell to Wilson if he was just a rolled ankle away from taking over a preseason top-10 team. At the very least, Wilson, who has aspirations to get into the coaching field, would be like another coach on the sidelines for Fisher and Co.
Danny Clark, Vanderbilt
Best home — Akron
To understand how wild of a ride it’s been for Clark, know this: He had a massive Ohio State tattoo on his left arm — it’s since been removed — and never played there after he was committed to the Buckeyes. He went to Kentucky and didn’t win the starting job, so he transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College and then last year, he missed out on winning Vanderbilt’s starting job and opted out after the first 4 games. This will be Clark’s 4th school in as many years.
It’s likely time for the Group of 5 route for Clark. More specifically, it could be time for him to return to Akron and try to resurrect his hometown team’s lackluster offense. The Zips had the nation’s No. 120 scoring offense, and they averaged just 139.7 passing yards per game. It might not have worked out for the lefty signal-caller yet with 2 appearances (and 1 rushing touchdown) in FBS games, but perhaps regular playing time is what he needs to break through.
And hey, who does Akron play in 2021? Ohio State. That story writes itself.
It won’t happen, but … Tate Martell at Arkansas would be super intriguing
No, I don’t think it’s in the cards. Chill, Arkansas fans. My guess is that KJ Jefferson will be the guy and the Hogs won’t touch Martell’s drama with a 10-foot pole.
By the way, can we call Martell a former SEC quarterback even though he was only a one-time Texas A&M commit? Eh, probably not, but the polarizing signal-caller is worth mentioning here because he’d be fascinating to watch in Kendal Briles’ offense. Once upon a time, there were people banging the drum for Martell to get serious looks at Ohio State. That was before Ryan Day totally overhauled Urban Meyer’s offense. Martell can absolutely run tempo and make plays. Amidst all the drama that followed his career is an ability to make people miss in the open field. And yes, he wants to play quarterback despite the switch to receiver at Miami.
Is it more likely that he ends up back at a place closer to home like UNLV? Probably, but besides just wanting to see him in Briles’ offense, I’d love to see the interactions he’d have with Sam Pittman, who doesn’t put up with any nonsense.
Having said that, I’m not holding my breath.