It is a landmark day for a college football program when they receive a national letter of intent signed by a five-star quarterback prospect. When one of the nation’s best at the game’s most important position signs on the dotted line and commits to a program, the coaching staff and fans can get caught up in the uproar that comes along with. They might want to be careful in doing so. Signing a five-star quarterback doesn’t guarantee much of anything.
The Transfer If you were placing bets on five-star quarterbacks, you may want to put on the likelihood of any given five-star QB transferring. Since the beginning of the current decade, only 19 quarterbacks have earned the five-star designation. 11 of them have transferred schools at least once. That is nearly 60 percent!
The most recent to announce his intention to transfer is Georgia QB Justin Fields. He was the nation’s No. 2 player overall in the recruiting class of 2018. Fields actually played in 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games but was never going to beat out incumbent starter Jake Fromm. While his transfer is not official, it appears that Fields is looking for a school where he can play in 2020. That school could be Ohio State.
Five-Star History Looking back at the first five-star quarterback of the decade – Phillip Sims – the trend was off and running. Sims signed with Alabama and eventually transferred to Virginia. The following year, Jeff Driskel signed with Florida where he was an on-again, off-again starter. He wound up transferring to Louisiana Tech and just recently started the last three games for the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 2012, Gunner Kiel, the son of former Notre Dame quarterback Blair Kiel, was all the rage. He followed his father and signed with Notre Dame where he struggled and eventually transferred to Cincinnati. A year later, Max Browne would sign with USC but move on to Pittsburgh. In 2014, Kyle Allen was a highly regarded quarterback recruit that seemed like a perfect fit at Texas A&M. He transferred to Houston.
The Class of 2016 saw two five-star quarterbacks both of whom left their original schools. Shea Patterson is now the starter at Michigan having left Ole Miss in the wake of the Hugh Freeze firing. Jacob Eason signed with Georgia, became the starter, got hurt, and didn’t win back his starting job. He is now at Washington where it is believed he will succeed four-year starter, Jake Browning.
Recent History In each of the past two recruiting classes, there have been three five-star quarterbacks. Two from each class are still at their respective schools and one each has transferred. Davis Mills (Stanford) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) from the 2017 class are still enrolled at their original schools, but Hunter Johnson who signed with Clemson has moved on to Northwestern.
One of the reasons Johnson transferred came in the Class of 2018. Trevor Lawrence, now the starter at Clemson, was a five-star recruit as was current USC starter, J.T. Daniels. At Georgia, Fields served as Fromm’s backup and now is looking to transfer.
The Reality In reality, there aren’t many five-star quarterbacks in the proverbial pond. In the pond, there can only be one fish – one starter. When that doesn’t happen, many of these five-stars are not willing to tolerate someone else starting in what they see as their spot. That leads to transfers. It’s a trend that will continue and one that coaches and fans alike should be wary of. A five-star quarterback is a guarantee of nothing.
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