Which SEC teams would work for a graduate transfer quarterback?
All offseason, there’s been buzz tangentially related to the SEC. At least two veteran quarterbacks, Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, were rumored to be interested in transferring as graduates, meaning they could play immediately upon arriving at their new destinations.
The SEC came up regarding both players simply because there are so many teams in need of a quarterback. When Golson announced his plans to transfer, several SEC teams jumped into the running thanks to the quarterback’s reported interest in playing close to his hometown of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Even with spring practice in the rearview, still close to half of the conference doesn’t have its starting quarterback figured out. Would bringing in a graduate transfer like Golson (or Miller, if he decides to leave Ohio State) work for any of them? Let’s take a look at the schools with a chance to make noise this year that don’t have a starting quarterback nailed down.
Quarterbacks in contention: Jacob Coker (senior), David Cornwell (redshirt freshman), Cooper Bateman (redshirt sophomore), Blake Barnett (freshman), Alec Morris (redshirt junior)
Would it work?: Yes
If Alabama goes after a player like Golson, it would be Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin signaling that bringing in Jacob Coker didn’t work for either party. As of now, we can’t be sure if they’re simply trying to motivate Coker further or if he really isn’t separating from the crowd of inexperienced passers behind him. With a graduate transfer, Alabama could turn to an experienced player instead of someone with no starting experience. The problem would be the same as the one Coker had last year: the difficulty of picking up Kiffin’s playbook. However, a player like Golson or Miller would be like a supercharged version of last year’s record-setting QB, Blake Sims, and thus would be too tantalizing to pass up.
Quarterbacks in contention: Will Grier (redshirt freshman), Treon Harris (sophomore)
Would it work?: No
What would be the point in Jim McElwain taking a graduate transfer? This Gators team is as bereft of talent as any Florida team in recent history and is nowhere near contending on a national scale, likely not even in the moribund SEC East. Adding a talented, veteran quarterback to this roster would be equivalent to pairing a nice cabernet sauvignon vintage with a Big Mac and fries.
Quarterbacks in contention: Brice Ramsey (sophomore), Faton Bauta (junior), Jacob Park (redshirt freshman)
Would it work?: Yes
The Bulldogs have one of the two or three most talented rosters in the SEC, top to bottom. Ramsey was thought to be the favorite at quarterback after backing up Hutson Mason last year, but he hasn’t beaten out Bauta, a player who was thought to be incapable of moving the ball through the air. Putting a veteran quarterback on this team would help prevent teams from stacking the box to slow down Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the rest of the running back crew. While Mark Richt generally prefers pro-style pocket passers, which neither Golson or Miller really is, a quarterback capable of extending plays with his legs could help loosen up space for the running game.
Quarterbacks in contention: Brandon Harris (sophomore), Anthony Jennings (junior)
Would it work?: Maybe
It’s no secret that LSU needs to improve its passing attack if the rest of the talented roster is to allow the Tigers to contend in the West. LSU is loaded with talent at receiver and in the backfield, and if there was a quarterback on the roster capable of unlocking all that then you’d be looking at a fearsome offense. However much a graduate transfer would make sense, there are rumors that Cam Cameron and Les Miles wouldn’t want a quarterback to come in and start without at least a spring in the program under their belt, a window that’s obviously closed. If Miles and Cameron are willing to take a transfer, it could turn LSU into an instant favorite.
Quarterbacks in contention: Chad Kelly (junior), Ryan Buchanan (sophomore), DeVante Kincade (sophomore)
Would it work?: Yes and no
Hugh Freeze has already rolled the dice on a transfer quarterback with Chad Kelly, a former Clemson Tiger who spent last year lighting up the junior college circuit. While that’s an indication that bringing in a graduate transfer would work for the Rebels, there’s no signal that Freeze wants to go outside of his current crop of quarterbacks to find a starter. Both Golson and Miller would make for an interesting fit with Freeze’s spread offense, but there’s no public indication that the coach wants to look outside the program for a new quarterback again just months after doing so.
Quarterbacks in contention: Connor Mitch (redshirt sophomore), Michael Scarnecchia (redshirt freshman), Perry Orth (redshirt junior), Lorenzo Nunez (incoming freshman)
Would it work?: Yes
The Gamecocks are one of the main teams mentioned in connection to Golson’s transfer rumors, and they’re a logical fit for a veteran quarterback, especially one who can move with the ball like Golson or Miller (which would take the team back to its Connor Shaw-era offense). The East is wide open, and the Gamecocks have enough talent to contend within the division if they can shore up their quarterback situation.