Breaking down college football’s biggest QB transfers

College football today is changing dramatically due to the NCAA’s relaxed rules on transfers, and quarterbacks have taken full advantage.

The big picture: Well over a dozen high-profile quarterbacks have entered the transfer portal this winter, many of them from top Power 5 schools, and three of them from universities that were represented in the College Football Playoff.

Elites on the move: Here, we’re breaking down the top-10 quarterbacks who transferred this winter.

  • Justin Fields was tired of sitting behind Jake Fromm and was granted immediate eligibility to play for Ohio State due to an incident at a baseball game.
  • Tate Martell, responding to Justin Fields transferring from Georgia, went to Miami where he has a chance to become the starter.
  • Josh Jackson, who suffered a horrific injury early last season, landed a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech to Maryland.
  • Hunter Johnson was the No. 2-ranked pocket passer in the nation in 2017 when he was recruited to Clemson. Then Trevor Lawrence happened. Johnson transferred to Northwestern, where he’ll likely be the starter in place of Clayton Thorson, who has moved on to the NFL.
  • Brandon Wimbush was Notre Dame’s starter until Ian Book showed what he could do early in the 2018 season. From that point on, Wimbush was the backup. As a result, he transferred to UCF this winter.
  • Shane Buechele was supplanted by Sam Ehlinger at Texas. As a result, he opted to transfer to SMU, where he’ll likely replace Ben Hicks as the starter.
  • Ben Hicks, funny enough, is a graduate transfer from SMU and will now take his considerable talents to Arkansas to take on the big guns in the SEC.
  • Kelly Bryant, the second former Clemson quarterback here, was upset when Dabo Swinney started Lawrence over him. As a result, he moved on and is now set to start for the Missouri Tigers, taking over for Drew Lock as he moves on to the NFL.
  • Jacob Eason was also trapped behind Fromm at Georgia. Eason didn’t play at all last year after transferring to Washington. He lost his job to Fromm in 2017 due to injury and is now set to start in place of Jake Browning, now moving on to the pros.
  • Jalen Hurts was the starter at Alabama until the National Championship Game following the 2017 season. As you’re likely aware, he lost the job to Tua Tagovailoa and never got it back. Now he’s headed to Norman to play for Lincoln Riley.

Best chance for a big impact: Of the 10 quarterbacks listed above, we can be sure not all of them will experience success. The following are primed to do big things with their new schools.

  • Justin Fields should explode playing in Ryan Day’s offense at Ohio State. We look for the Buckeyes to heavily feature J.K. Dobbins as a dual-threat running back playing alongside Fields. With a dynamic run game as the base, Fields’ ability to make big plays with his arm should blossom.
  • Jalen Hurts is going to be one of the most exciting offensive players to watch this coming season. He takes over for Kyler Murray in Lincoln Riley’s quarterback-friendly offense and has a real chance to do far more with the Sooners than he ever did at Alabama.
  • Hunter Johnson is highly intriguing as the likely starter for Northwestern. The Wildcats haven’t had a pro-style quarterback like him in a while, so it’s going to be fascinating to see what he brings to their offense. Given Pat Fitzgerald’s penchant for coaching the heck out of his team regardless of the situation, we expect Johnson to shine.