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Ranking 2019’s Grad Transfer QBs

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A lot of QBs are looking for a change of scenery - so who should Miami go after?

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Georgia John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubting that Coach Manny Diaz has dipped his toe into the grad transfer waters when it comes to looking for Miami’s next QB. While that decision may come with some potential collateral damage, Jarren Williams already nearly transferred once, Diaz may be ready to hand the reigns to someone else based on what he has seen thus far as the defensive coordinator.

Here are some of the transfers who are on the move this offseason, their ranking based upon who would best be able to captain the new Dan Enos offense; one of multiple formations, personnel groups and probably a lot more spread schemes.

4. Ross Bowers, California

NCAA Football: North Carolina at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Bowers hasn’t gotten as much hype as the other’s on this list but he could be the best fall back option if nothing pans out. He’s had flashes of success in an up and down 2017 season, his sophomore year, where he was replacing the highly-touted Jared Goff. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and 18 TDs in a five win season. In a program with more talent and skill position playmakers, Bowers could potentially have much better numbers. However, after suffering a thumb injury in the first game of last season, Bowers was passed over in favor of other players. He may be an option but there’s no guarantee he’s better than what’s already on Miami’s roster.

3. Austin Kendall, Oklahoma

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Thought of as the possible replacement for Baker Mayfield and then Kyler Murray, Kendall kicks the can further down the road now that it seems like OU may be looking in another direction. A former 4-star passer and 9th ranked pro style QB in the 2016 class, Kendall has thrown a grand total of 39 passes. However, it’s not due to his lack of talent, just not being quite as good as two Heisman Trophy winners. Kendall has looked good in limited action but, like Bowers, will be more of a competitor than the heir apparent if he comes to Coral Gables. As of right now, there’s no guarantee he will even leave Norman; his decision to enter the grad portal could just be preparation for a backup plan. But if OU doesn’t secure someone else that ends up on this list and if 5-star Spencer Rattler isn’t ready for primetime, then Kendall could very well stay in crimson and cream.

2. Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame

Florida State v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Wimbush lost his job early this past season after a promising sophomore campaign in 2017. Ian Book led the Fightin’ Irish to the playoffs before being smothered by the Clemson defense, but it seemed clear that Brian Kelly thought Book’s passing ability gave his team the best chance to compete for the majority of 2018. Wimbush’s 2017 included 1,870 passing yards, 16 TDs and 6 INTs. His best ability was as a runner though, rushing for 840 yards and 14 TDs in the same season. However, with a completion percentage just under 50%, and that number only crept up to 52% in 2018, Wimbush is more Malik Rosier than Brad Kaaya. Unless his passing ability has greatly improved, the former 4-star is another guy who may not be better than the QBs currently enrolled.

UPDATE:

Wimbush announced his intention to transfer to UCF moments before this piece was scheduled to publish.

Honorable Mention: Tate Martell, Ohio State

No, Martell is not a grad transfer but the former 5-star QB should be discussed. He might even be the best option since he will likely need to sit one year due to NCAA transfer rules. Some think it’s already a done deal if Miami wants him. This would give Perry and Williams one more year to prove they can play the position at a high level. If Diaz sees neither player as his QB of the future, he could turn to Martell in 2020. The former second best dual-threat QB in the nation is leaving Columbus after Georgia’s Justin Fields became a Buckeye following a 2018 season that saw him unable to remove Jake Fromm from his starting role. And like that, the musical chairs of transfer QBs continues to spin.

1. Jalen Hurts, Alabama

SEC Championship - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

You already know who it is. Jalen Hurts is the crown jewel of the 2019 grad transfer QBs, a player who has won a national championship as a starter and regularly performed at a high level on the biggest stages of college football. Right now it seems Miami is in direct competition with Oklahoma, who has churned out two straight Heisman trophy winners and been regular competitors for the playoffs since they started in 2014. At Oklahoma, Hurts would be the signal caller for a championship competitor but may not be the type of program changing leader he could be at Coral Gables.

Hurts has developed into a much better passer under Miami OC and former Bama QB Coach Dan Enos’ tutelage. Even though Hurts backed up Tua Tagovailoa this season, his place on the depth chart is not an indictment on his talent level. Tua is a player and likely will be a Top 10 draft pick. Hurts simply isn’t at that level of QB. And that’s okay. He is still a solid QB who is a lethal rushing threat and developing passer. In his 2 and a quarter seasons worth of playing QB at Alabama, Hurts has racked up more than 5,600 passing yards, 1,900 rushing yards, 71 total TDs and just 12 interceptions (Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry combined for 14 INTs just last season).

There’s no mistaking who the best QB on the open market is in 2019. And if Miami wants to create an offense that would have a lot less question marks this coming season, they will make Hurts their signal caller. There may be some collateral damage, like one of the young guns leaving on a team lacking QB depth as is, but if Hurts can help bring the Canes back to respectability then it’s worth the potential damage.