Potential SEC destinations for Baylor-transfer QB Jarrett Stidham
The fallout in Baylor continues after a sexual assault scandal cost head coach Art Briles his job in Waco after eight years and 65 wins.
Among the consequences is the departure of highly touted quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who announced on July 7 that he’s transferring from the maligned program. That means quarterback-needy teams from throughout the nation will line up, once again, to procure the services of the five-star talent and member of the 2015 recruiting class.
Stidham saw action as a true freshman, throwing for 1,265 yards, 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in a split role last year for the 10-3 Bears. But the implosion of Briles’ program and the presence of rising senior quarterback Seth Russell (2,104 yards, 29 TDs) was enough to sway Stidham toward making an exodus.
— Jarrett Stidham (@Jarrett_Stidham) July 7, 2016
Stidham is no stranger to the courting process, particularly from SEC schools. Of the 22 programs that offered him scholarships out of Stephenville (Texas) High School, seven of them (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M) hail from the SEC.
However, in the end it was Baylor edging out Texas Tech for the services of the No. 2 dual-threat QB for 2015, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.
Stidham won’t be eligible to take the field again until 2017, but teams are surely readying their recruiting pitches in the interim.
Could an SEC team lure Stidham to the conference? Here are five SEC programs that could benefit greatly by the addition of the five-star transfer.
Nick Saban and Alabama could join the Stidham sweepstakes. After all, the Crimson Tide head coach has a proven track record of winning with transferred quarterbacks. For proof, look no further than Jake Coker and the 2015 College Football Playoff-winning Alabama squad. The Tide’s quarterback situation is a bit murky now that Coker’s playing days are kaput. Several quarterbacks will have a year’s audition before Stidham would be eligible to play again, giving the likes of Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell, as well as Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts a shot to wrest the position away for themselves. Plus, if Alabama is serious about landing Stidham, it shouldn’t take much of a Saban sales pitch to draw the elite talent to a program that’s won four of the last seven national titles.
That Stidham was born some 90 miles south of Lexington down I-75 has to account for something, right? Kentucky signed three-star recruits Gunnar Hoak (pro style) and Stephen Johnson II (dual threat) to this year’s recruiting class, but head coach Mark Stoops would certainly leap at the opportunity to land just the third five-star recruit (according to Scout) in program history. Johnson and Hoak are already Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on the Wildcats’ recently-released depth chart, behind starter Drew Barker. Receiving a commitment from Stidham might even get Stoops off the coaching hot seat … for now.
Mississippi State got a taste of what life is like with an elite quarterback under center the last four years. But now that Dak Prescott — the holder of just about every Bulldogs passing record there is — can be found throwing to Dallas Cowboys receivers, Mississippi State is in search of its next leader. Four quarterbacks are in Starkville this summer vying for the starting nod, including Nick Fitzgerald, Elijah Staley, Damian Williams and Nick Tiano. But Dan Mullen would be remiss not to pursue a player of Stidham’s caliber.
Missouri isn’t one of the SEC schools that originally offered Stidham coming out of Stephenville (Texas) High School. But Oklahoma did, courtesy of former Sooners co-offensive coordinator and recruiter Josh Heupel — a man whose own quarterbacking credentials stand on their own merit. Heupel is no longer in Norman as a member of Bob Stoops’ program, eschewing the Big 12 for a chance to join first-year head coach Barry Odom at Missouri under the same title. The Tigers’ quarterback conundrum has been well-documented, especially after the dismissal of Maty Mauk. The Mizzou offense is in dire need of a playmaker, and adding a five-star quarterback would certainly fit that bill.
Texas A&M’s name always seems to come up when a new quarterback hits the market. The Aggies are also adept at flooding the open market with quarterbacks. Kevin Sumlin has watched idly as three five-star quarterbacks have dropped their commitment to the Aggies since December. All told, Sumlin’s program has hemorrhaged Kenny Hill, Matt Joeckel, Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, while also bidding goodbye to recruits Tate Martell and Kohl Stewart. Sumlin recouped by bringing former Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight into College Station. But Knight has one season of eligibility remaining after fleeing Norman as a graduate transfer. Knight can only stave off panic for one year before Sumlin needs another big name under center. Perhaps a shot at another five-star recruit is in order, especially Stidham, who played his high school ball in the state and was the second-ranked, dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class behind Murray.