Prather’s Top 5 QB Pickups of the Transfer Portal Era


Jalen Hurts at media day, 2018 (Image via WikiMedia Commons)

By Justin Prather, Sports Writer


Since its debut in the fall of 2018, the NCAA’s Transfer Portal has been a boon for athletes and programs alike. Transferring schools for a college athlete before the portal was possible, but not simple. The process is still full of hurdles, specifically as it relates to eligibility, but it has been significantly streamlined. Utah’s football performance so far has not been fun to watch, but our top two quarterbacks, Cam Rising and Jake Bentley came to Utah from Texas and South Carolina respectively to help fill the massive backfield void left by Tyler Huntley via the portal. This week we look at the top five QB transfer portal pickups over the last two seasons.


No. 5: J.T. Daniels | USC to Georgia

Daniels was the QB the Chrony Sports Desk loved to hate while he was at USC. Kedon Slovis took over that role when Daniels ended up in crutches on the Trojan sideline in 2019 with a torn ACL. In April, when it was apparent that Slovis would end up taking the starting job for the 2020 season, Daniels threw his name into the portal. On the other end, a pack of Bulldogs were waiting for a new hand to take the leash. Daniels transferred to Georgia at the end of May and was officially cleared to play in week two against Auburn. He ultimately wouldn’t see the field until the Nov. 21 home game against Mississippi State. When he finally got his hands on the ball for the first time in over a year, Daniels made it count, completing 28 of 38 passes for 401 yards in a 31-24 win over Mississippi State. It’s not clear who will be under center for Georgia this coming Saturday against South Carolina, but Daniels stated his case clearly.


No. 4 Jalen Hurts | Alabama to Oklahoma

In 2016, Hurts started in the second game of his true freshman season at Alabama after QB Blake Barnett was benched in the opener the previous week against USC. Hurts was the first true freshman to start for the Tide in over 30 years. The revolving door that led to his come-up would ultimately be his demise. In the National Championship game of the 2017 season, Hurts was benched at halftime in favor of Tua Tagovailoa who would go on to win the game in overtime. Tua started every game in 2018, but not without Hurts’ help who stepped in to beat Georgia in the 2018 SEC Championship game to set up the Crimson Tide for the playoffs. In the championship game that Hurts made possible, Tua started and Alabama lost to Clemson 16-44. A couple of weeks after the loss, Hurts announced he was transferring to Oklahoma.

With the Sooners, Hurts made headlines for his post-game antics, showing up to the weight room still in pads after dominating opposing teams. Oklahoma would start Hurts in all 14 games, ending the season 12-2 with a playoff appearance. Hurts completed 237 of his 340 pass attempts for 3,851 yards, tacking on another 1,298 rushing yards in his first and last season for Oklahoma. Hurts now backs up struggling Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz, and there is talk about Hurts making his starting NFL debut soon.


No 3: Peyton Ramsey | Indiana to Northwestern

Indiana is defying the odds in 2020, rolling the likes of Penn State and Michigan with plenty of room to run. Much of their unexpected success is because of sophomore QB Michael Penix Jr. coming out of the ether to lead the offense. Former Hoosier Peyton Ramsey saw the writing on the wall when Penix jr. took his job in 2019 and opted to move to Northwestern as a graduate transfer for his final year of eligibility. Ramsey has proved himself worthy of a starting job for the Wildcats who are 5-0 so far in 2020. At Northwestern this season, Ramsey has completed 96 of 155 pass attempts, has thrown eight TDs, ran for one and moved the Wildcats into playoff discussions.


No 2: Justin Fields | Georgia to Ohio State

Fields left the Bulldogs after his freshman season for unknown reasons. In the NCAA investigation that eventually granted him a waiver to be able to play immediately, it came out that Fields had been subjected to off-field racism from another Georgia athlete. Fields certainly looked at home on a new field in new colors in 2019. He started all 14 games for Ohio State last year, leading the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record, losing only to Clemson in the first round of the playoffs. Fields looks like he is set for a repeat performance this season. The Buckeyes are 4-0 with a manageable schedule ahead of them. Fields has thrown for 300 yards or more in three of four games and is once again in Heisman talks.


No. 1: Joe Burrow | Ohio State to LSU

In similar fashion to other QBs on this list, Burrow was a backup to an arguably inferior starter, in this case, J.T. Barret. After sitting for two seasons at Ohio State, Burrow saw that he was going to be sat again in favor of Dwayne Haskins, so he graduated and went looking for a new home. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron gave him one for the 2018 season and the Tigers went 10-3. In 2019, Burrow was a reckoning force under center, throwing for 5,671 yards and 60 TDs. Burrow ended the season with the Heisman, a national title, and would end up as the first pick in the NFL draft. Pretty good performance for a previously second string QB.


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