One of the quickest ways to make an impact on a college football team is transfer portal recruiting. The ability to sign players who are older, more established, and more experienced shortens the time frame needed to turn a program around. The early returns on Colorado and Texas State’s huge transfer signing classes are shining examples of successful transfer portal signing classes.
With the importance of the transfer portal as a whole established, let’s dive in a little deeper. The most important position in all of football is Quarterback. With the number of high quality quarterbacks available in the transfer portal, it is no surprise that over 50% of FBS teams will start a transfer quarterback. When looking at the top teams, it’s even higher. Six of the current top 10 teams in the AP poll are starting transfer QB’s. The percentage stays at 60% when you expand to the rest of the top 25 (that number goes up to 68% depending on what we want to do with Alabama and the Ty Buchner experiment on Saturday).
Transfers are often looking for a change in playing level. For example, FCS/D2 moving up to FBS (Bailey Zappe to Western Kentucky, Cam Ward to Washington State to name a few) or moving from a bigger Power 5 program to a smaller program to get some playing time, or revitalize their career. We have seen a steady increase in the number of lateral transfers, especially within conference transfers. This leads to a number of games where a QB plays against his former team. We have two such matchups this weekend. Brennan Armstrong travels back to Charlottesville to take on UVA tonight. And Grant Wells will quarterback UVA rival Virginia Tech against Marshall.
This year there are 9 matchups where a QB will start against his former team. One of which has already happened when Tyler Shough and Texas Tech took on the Oregon Ducks. As these matchups are increasing in number, let’s check out how these games have gone for the quarterbacks against their former teams. Do they perform better or worse? Which side is able to use knowledge of years of reps against each other and performs better? Let’s dive in!
There were 6 matchups in the 2022 season: Jordan Travis against Louisville, Chevan Cordeiro against Hawaii, Andrew Peasley against Utah State, Jayden de Laura against Washington State, Kyle Vantrease against Buffalo, and Layne Hatcher against Arkansas State. The transfer QB’s came out on top 4 out of 6 times, but let’s get into the stats to see how they played.
1. Jordan Travis
13-17, 157 Yds, 2 TD’s, 1 INT
Travis came into the 2023 season with a lot of Heisman Hype because of how he played in 2022. He started the game 11 for 11 and was putting together a decent game before an injury in the 2nd quarter took him out the rest of the game.
2. Chevan Cordeiro
17-26, 208 Yds, 1 INT
Cordeiro performed about average for his EPA on passing plays, but did not add as much on the ground as he normally did running for 19 yards on 10 carries.
3. Andrew Peasley
13-26, 199 Yds, 6 rushes, 29 Yds
Although completing only 50% of his passes, Peasley was able to have a positive EPA on the day due to his work on the ground. This was one of his best games of the season.
4. Jayden de Laura
28-46 357 Yds, 1 TD, 4 INT
It’s safe to say the defense got the best of de Laura in this game. 4 INT’s including a pick 6 and an Interception on 3 straight drives, and 4 of 5 in the second half. He wasn’t very effective on the ground either, running 6 times for -10 yards.
5. Kyle Vantrease
28-45, 352 Yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Georgia Southern came up just short in their bowl game against Buffalo, and Kyle Vantrease played about average. His EPA on the game was right in the middle of his per game scores in 2022.
6. Layne Hatcher
23-36, 196 Yds
About average for his season as Texas State picked up the win.
In 2022 there were 6 games. 3 home games, 2 away games, and 1 bowl game. Transfer QBs went 3-0 in home games, and 1-2 in games that were not at home. There was an even split of QB production for the 6 games: 2 good games for the QB, 2 about average, and 2 bad games.
Upcoming 2023 Matchups
- Brennan Armstrong (NC State) vs. UVA
- Grant Wells (Virginia Tech) vs. Marshall
- Sam Hartman (Notre Dame) vs. Wake Forest
- Phil Jurkovec (Pitt) vs. Boston College
- Donovan Smith (Houston) vs. Texas Tech
- Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma) vs. UCF
- Jayden de Laura (Arizona) vs. Washington State (hoping to get some good payback)
- Chevan Cordeiro (San Jose State) vs. Hawaii
A lot can change over from season to season, a QB that transfers and returns to play his former school may face a different defensive coordinator, or completely different personnel. Brennan Armstrong is joining back up with his old offensive coordinator at NC State, Phil Jurkovec is joining his OC in moving to Pitt, and others have completely new offensive schemes. Each scenario is different, but it will be interesting to continue to monitor the trend of transfer quarterbacks playing against their former teams.