We’ve taken a couple weeks off since the last potential transfer quarterback portal update, and since then, Penn State’s quarterback picture hasn’t really gotten any clearer. Sean Clifford has reclaimed his spot as the starting quarterback, but it is in much more of a game manager mode than a “lead us to a title” mode.
Regardless, this week we add a new name to the list — one that hasn’t taken a snap since Trace McSorley was still Penn State’s quarterback.
McKenzie Milton (5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Senior), UCF
2018 Stats (10 games): 171-of-289 (59.2%), 2,663 yards, 25 TDs, 6 INTs; 307 rushing yards (3.9 YPC), 9 TDs
A new name to the list now that he is officially in the transfer portal: former UCF starting quarterback McKenzie Milton. I am sure that most of you remember Milton, who was UCF’s starting quarterback in 2016, 2017, and most of 2018 until a gruesome leg injury caused him to miss all of the 2019 and now the 2020 season.
The gruesome injury part is important. You can read more here, which is a first person article where Milton explains the injury, but the basics: he didn’t tear his ACL or MCL. He tore his LCL, PCL, and most importantly, his popliteal artery. I’m no doctor, but I can tell you that someone doesn’t want to tear an artery. As the article states, tearing the artery led to immediate surgery to save the leg — and then even after that, it was a matter of waiting for the nerves to start working again.
Two years later though, Milton has resumed football activities. While he wasn’t used in a game for UCF this year, he took reps as their scout team quarterback. With Dillon Gabriel fully entrenched as the Golden Knights starter for the 2021 season, Milton has decided to transfer for as he says, “one last shot.”
Milton will surely have Power Five suitors, but his near career-ending injury obviously raises questions not just what type of player he’ll be, but if he can be a player at all. Still, there will be major interest in a quarterback that finished 8th in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2017.
Grayson McCall (6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Freshman), Coastal Carolina
Previous Game (Texas State): 11-of-18 (61.1%), 154 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 25 rushing yards (6.3 YPC)
Season Stats (8 games): 117-of-174 (67.2%), 1,747 yards, 20 TDs, 1 INT; 365 rushing yards (4.9 YPC), 5 TDs
Next Game: Saturday, 12/5 at 5:30 p.m. — BYU (ESPNU)
Since I last updated this article, McCall received his toughest test of the season when Coastal Carolina took on a strong App State team. McCall faced pressure throughout the game, getting sacked four times and fumbling twice. He also wasn’t his usual accurate self, going 12-of-21 on passes, good enough for a completion percentage of just 57%. While Coastal Carolina did come away with the victory, for the first time all season, McCall actually was challenged. That should happen again this Saturday, as the undefeated BYU Cougars step in for Liberty to take on the Chanticleers.
Dustin Crum (6-foot-3, 201 pounds, Senior), Kent State
Previous Game (Buffalo): 22-of-32 (68.8%), 343 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 76 rushing yards (5.8 YPC)
Season Stats (4 games): 83-of-113 (73.5%), 1,181 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs; 240 rushing yards (5.5 YPC), 4 TDs
Next Game: Saturday, 12/12 at 12 p.m. — Ohio (ESPN3)
While Crum put up gaudy stats against Buffalo in arguably his best performance of the season, it wasn’t enough as Buffalo put up 71 points behind running back Jaret Patterson who ran for 409 yards and 8 touchdowns. Tough luck for Crum, but as they say, that’s how the cookie...crumbles.
(do you get it crumbles because his last name is crum do you get it)
I don’t have anything to back this up, but out of all of these players on this list, I think Crum makes the most sense to go up a level for next season. He’s an extremely productive player, but he’s a late round-UDFA quarterback right now. Would that change if he went to play in the Big Ten or ACC or some other Power Five conference? I don’t know. But “all-conference Group of Five quarterback who projects as a late round draft pick” is exactly who the one-time transfer rule will benefit the most. If you as me, Crum fits that perfectly.
Kaleb Eleby (6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Sophomore), Western Michigan
Previous Game (Northern Illinois): 12-of-24 (50%), 210 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
Season Stats (4 Games): 56-of-89 (62.9%), 1,138 yards, 12 TDs, 1 INT
Next Game: Saturday, 12/5 at 2 p.m. — Eastern Michigan (ESPN+)
Speaking of fitting that definition, Eleby is a possible candidate too. The difference is that he would have three years at whatever school he’d transfer to, whereas Crum just has one.
Grant Wells (6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Freshman) Marshall
Previous Game (MTSU): 25-of-37 (67.6%), 336 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs; 39 rushing yards (4.9 YPC)
Season Stats (7 Games): 126-of-192 (65.6%), 1,674 yards, 16 TDs, 4 INTs; 155 rushing yards (4.3 YPC), 2 TDs
Next Game: Saturday, 12/5 at 12 p.m. — Rice (ESPN+)
Wells hasn’t played since the last update two weeks ago, but he and the undefeated Marshall Thundering Herd will be back in action against Rice this Saturday. Wells is, as the YouTube basketball highlight community would call him, a smooth operator.
Zac Thomas (6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Senior), App State
Previous Game (Troy): 22-of-29 (75.9%), 279 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
Season Stats (9 games): 150-of-225 (66.7%), 1,775 yards, 17 TDs, 8 INTs
Next Game: Friday, 12/4 at 8:30 p.m. — Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPN)
Speaking of that App State-Coastal Carolina matchup, Thomas struggled big time against the Chanticleers defense, getting sacked three times and throwing three interceptions in the process. As you can see, Thomas isn’t having the greatest season, but we Penn State fans know what he is capable of. I don’t even have to look up the box score to know he was 32-of-35 for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns against Penn State in 2018. Baller.
Desmond Ridder (6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Junior), Cincinnati
Previous Game (UCF): 21-of-32 (65.6%), 338 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 57 rushing yards (4.1 YPC), 2 TDs
Season Stats (8 games): 143-of-215 (66.5%), 1,821 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs; 526 rushing yards (7.9 YPC), 11 TDs
Next Game: Saturday, 12/12 time TBD — Tulsa (TBD)
The only thing Ridder did incorrectly against UCF was that he didn’t plow into the endzone on 3rd and goal or 4th and goal when Cincinnati need a touchdown to cover. Honestly, I thought about taking him off the list because of it.
Malik Willis (6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Junior), Liberty
Previous Game (UMass): 16-of-24 (66.7%), 223 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 63 rushing yards (9 YPC), 1 TD
Season Stats (9 games): 151-of-236 (64%), 2,040 yards, 20 TDs, 4 INTs; 807 rushing yards (6.7 YPC), 10 TDs
Next Game: TBD
Outside of a bowl game, Liberty’s season might be over. They had to pull out of the Coastal Carolina game because of COVID issues, and while it’s possible for them to add an extra game (BYU?) over the next couple of weeks, I don’t know how likely that is. Regardless, Willis had an awesome season; a 20-10 season in 9 games is stupid impressive. Should Hugh Freeze leave Liberty this offseason, Willis will be highly sought after if he chooses to enter the transfer portal.
Carson Strong (6-foot-4 215 pounds, Sophomore), Nevada
Previous Game (Hawaii): 20-of-25 (80%), 168 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Season Stats (6 games): 171-of-240 (71.3%), 1,973 yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs
Next Game: Saturday, 12/5 at 10:30 p.m. — Fresno State (FOX Sports 1)
I moved Carson Strong down here because just from watching him, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t need to move up a level to prove his arm talent. I’m far from a NFL draft junkie, but Strong jumps out as a 1st or 2nd rounder in the 2022 NFL Draft. Supreme talent.