In case you have missed it, the NCAA is set to allow players to transfer one time without having to sit out a season. This will surely shake up the college football world, but no position should be more impacted than quarterback. While we’ll see just how many quarterbacks take advantage of it this offseason, I fully expect to eventually see some highly-touted Group of 5 QBs to make the jump to Power Five jobs.
Could one of those jobs be at Penn State in 2021? Well, unfortunately, it could be. And that stinks. I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write this. I have been pro-Clifford every step of the way.
I want Clifford to turn this around because I know, like the rest of Penn State, he is capable of more than what he has shown. Next year this time, I want to laugh at this article. But at this point, Clifford’s job as the starting quarterback at Penn State deserves to be question. So in the case that “college football free agency” does hit Happy Valley, here are a couple Group of 5 quarterbacks to keep an eye on.
Grayson McCall (6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Freshman), Coastal Carolina
Previous Game (South Alabama): 17-of-24 (70.8%), 209 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 72 rushing yards (9 YPC)
Season Stats (6 games): 94-of-135 (69.9%), 1,393 yards, 16 TDs, 1 INT; 271 rushing yards (4.8 YPC), 4 TDs
I would say that Grayson McCall is the best quarterback you haven’t heard of, but at this point, I assume that every college football fan has heard of him. He’s led Coastal Carolina to a 7-0 start and the No. 17 ranking in the country, and looking at his stats above, you can see why. He’s a complete quarterback, being able to beat teams with his arm or his legs.
If McCall decides to leave Coastal Carolina for a Power 5 QB job, he’ll be one of the crown jewel of the class. I mean, there might not be ten quarterbacks in country that are better than McCall — he’s that good.
Carson Strong (6-foot-4 215 pounds, Sophomore), Nevada
Previous Game (Utah State): 36-of-52 (69.2%), 411 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Season Stats (3 games): 96-of-131 (73.3%), 1,181 yards, 9 TDs, 0 INTs
I’m #TeamMcCall till I die, but Strong is a very intriguing quarterback. Big kid, does a really nice job going through his progressions, and has an absolute cannon for an arm.
Strong could very well follow the Josh Allen or Jordan Love strategy — parlay some Mountain West success into a first round pick — so maybe he’ll decide that leaving Nevada isn’t necessary. He’s also originally from California, so should he transfer somewhere, a west coast school seems more likely than over here on the east coast.
Zac Thomas (6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Senior), App State
Previous Game (Texas State): 18-of-27 (66.7%), 168 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Season Stats (6 games): 95-of-145 (65.5%), 1,139 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs
Penn State fans surely remember Zac Thomas, as he dropped dime after dime in Appalachian State’s game in Beaver Stadium. He’s now a senior and still a very good quarterback. If he were to make the move up, he obviously has ties elsewhere — former coaches Scott Satterfield at Louisville and Eli Drinkwitz at Missouri.
Malik Willis (6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Junior), Liberty
Previous Game (Virginia Tech): 20-of-30 (66.7%), 217 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 108 rushing yards (5.7 YPC), 1 TD
Season Stats (6 games): 108-of-161 (67.1%), 1,339 yards, 12 TDs, 1 INT; 603 rushing yards (6.7 YPC), 7 TDs
The one-time Auburn player has been spectacular for Hugh Freeze’s Liberty squad. He’s the best athlete on this list, and is a true terror rushing the football. 603 rushing yards is far and away the most rushing yards for a quarterback in the NCAA, and it’s pretty darn good even when compared to running backs — Willis is No. 17 in the country in total rushing yards.
MALIK “HIGHSTEP” WILLIS pic.twitter.com/QUAdtN6cZt— Malik Willis for Heisman (@Liberty_Flames_) November 7, 2020
Despite being such a good runner, Willis still brings it in the passing game. He’s accurate, he can make the simple throws, and has a strong enough arm to stretch the field.
Wow, Malik Willis with a dime on 4th down and Liberty has 1st & Goal. pic.twitter.com/SyOTLNl1oq— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) November 7, 2020
Would Willis be willing to give the Power 5 another try? Is that question potentially dependent upon if Hugh Freeze is still at Liberty next season? We’ll see.
Desmond Ridder (6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Junior), Cincinnati
Previous Game (Houston): 17-of-27 (63%), 162 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 103 rushing yards (8.6 YPC), 3 TDs
Season Stats (6 games): 98-of-152 (64.5%), 1,156 yards, 11 TDs, 6 INTs; 394 rushing yards (8.8 YPC), 8 TDs
I mention Ridder mostly for the fact that if Luke Fickell were to leave Cincinnati and go elsewhere, there’s a world that Ridder decides to leave too. As you can see above, Ridder is a big kid, good athlete who can beat you with his arm or legs — a necessity in today’s game.
Dustin Crum (6-foot-3, 201 pounds, Senior), Kent State
Previous Game (EMU): 21-of-29 (72.4%), 219 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 35 rushing yards (4.4 YPC), 1 TD
Season Stats (2019): 216-of-312 (69.2%), 2,622 yards, 20 TDs, 2 INTs; 707 rushing yards (4.2 YPC), 6 TDs
Crum is tough to get a read on. He’s clearly got the arm strength and is a good, powerful athlete. But he just seems like a classic MAC quarterback that isn’t actually as good as he seems. He also plays in Sean Lewis’ very friendly QB system so I worry that if he were to make the jump to the Big Ten, that he would end up just being an average QB. Only one game this year though, so we’ll see how his season goes.
Drew Plitt (6-foot-2, 217 pounds, Senior), Ball State
Previous Game (Miami OH): 19-of-32, 309 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Season Stats (2019): 238-of-370 (64.3%), 2,918 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs
Plitt made a horrendous throw that cost Ball State the game soooooooooo he’d be a perfect fit for Penn State.
Ball State (-1) QB Drew Plitt does literally the only thing he couldn't do in this situation pic.twitter.com/Ukgn0MNAq4— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 5, 2020
Note: The plan is for this to be a weekly update, with more quarterbacks added throughout the season. Hopefully though, Clifford puts things together and this won’t need to be a weekly post.