What Connor Mitch's transfer says about South Carolina's QB race
Every college football transfer has a story behind it.
In the case of South Carolina quarterback Connor Mitch, it’s the quest to find a better fit and a better chance to play.
Last week, Mitch announced via a school press release that he intends to graduate early this summer and transfer out of the program.
“I have enjoyed my time at South Carolina and will graduate later this summer,” he said in the release. “I believe it’s in my best interest to continue my playing career at another school. I’d like to thank all the Gamecock fans for their support during my time in Columbia.”
Mitch, a former four-star recruit out of Raleigh, won the job last summer and started the first two games last season before shoulder and hip injuries kept him out for the rest of the campaign.
In the spring, he was one of five quarterbacks trying to impress the new staff. But he’s not a natural fit for new coordinator Kurt Roper’s spread offense, and was no better than third on the depth chart after the spring game.
Mitch soon will join Will Grier, Kyle Allen, Kyler Murray, Patrick Towles and Johnny McCrary on a list of recent SEC starting quarterbacks who have transferred.
Mitch caught the eye of Steve Spurrier as a high school player, and impressed him enough to win the job last summer. He’s a pocket passer who, in the right system, can be a productive starter. He just needs a change of scenery — and a little more luck on the injury front.
But the scheme likely isn’t the only reason that Mitch is leaving. True freshman Brandon McIlwain enrolled early and took full advantage by the extra reps afforded to him because of injuries to Perry Orth (collarbone) and Lorenzo Nunez (knee) in the spring.
He’s the co-leader atop the post-spring depth chart (with Orth) and will be hard to unseat as the starter between now and the opener.
“One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity,” Coach Will Muschamp told Bleacher Report. “He took advantage of the opportunity, and he took advantage of the reps and did an outstanding job.”
Jake Bentley’s decision to come to Columbia early further complicated the race, and it seems unlikely that Mitch got the same sort of assurances that the coaching staff offered to an incoming freshman.
“They said I had a fair chance to start,” Bentley said. “I want to start just like every other quarterback in that room wants to start. I’m going to work my tail off when I get there and competition is going to make all the quarterbacks better and is going to make the whole team better.”
Several ACC and SEC teams offered Mitch a scholarship when he was coming out of high school. He’ll have options, and as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately.
Fortunately for the Gamecocks, they still do, too.
Going to miss wearing this uniform, now time to find a new one pic.twitter.com/gt6sFV8dXN
— Connor Mitch (@Connor_Mitch3) May 23, 2016