Ranking the top 10 QBs already in the transfer portal
They’re already lining up, and there are only so may spots for so many quarterbacks.
We’re 5 days from the official opening of the transfer portal, and there’s significant movement at the most important position on the field — with more coming after Championship Weekend.
Last year, there were nearly 200 quarterbacks in the transfer portal, according to 247Sports portal tracker. Less than a week after the end of the regular season, there are already more than 30 quarterbacks who have publicly declared for the portal. Grad transfer Max Johnson already has picked his new school, North Carolina.
“It’s a lot like the NFL with legal tampering in free agency,” an SEC coach told Saturday Down South. “These guys are announcing they’re leaving, and schools can begin to set up NIL deals. There’s no (NCAA) policing here, they’re free to talk to whoever they want.”
Make no mistake, the new 2024 conference alignment will factor into decisions, too. If you’re a top–10 quarterback, there will be a natural draw to play in the newly-expanded SEC or Big Ten — or for a blueblood program with deep pockets in the ACC.
That includes some of the top transfer possibilities this offseason, including Washington State’s Cameron Ward, who reportedly has 10 offers of at least $1 million per season to transfer.
There will be other big names on the board after this weekend, maybe even a couple that could draw significant bidding wars. Will Maalik Murphy and Arch Manning stay at Texas, with Quinn Ewers already announcing his return to Austin in 2024? Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson is another name to watch.
Does Brock Vandagriff leave Georgia with No. 1 overall recruit Dylan Raiola (and maybe a transfer portal signee if Carson Beck leaves for the NFL) arriving on campus in January?
Does Arizona starter Jayden de Laura leave after he injured his ankle in September and missed a few weeks — then never got back on the field because of the play of redshirt freshman Noah Fifita?
This list is guaranteed to grow and perhaps change, but here’s a look at the top 10 current quarterbacks in the portal at this date, and their best fits.
1. Riley Leonard, Duke
In a perfect world, Leonard has wrapped up his regular season at Duke and is preparing for the NFL Draft. But multiple injuries shortened his season and has led to his return to college football in 2024.
Or as 1 ACC coach told Saturday Down South: “We all thought (Wake Forest QB) Sam (Hartman) was a big deal last year. Riley will make a much greater impact wherever he goes if he stays healthy. He can make every throw, he runs hard and he’s 1 of the fastest guys on the field.”
After a breakout season in 2022, Leonard played 5 full games and parts of 2 others this year before shutting it down in late October. He has a career TD/INT ratio of 24/10, and has 19 career rushing TDs.
Best fits: Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Florida State.
2. Will Howard, Kansas State
A tough, talented dual-threat who was undervalued the past 2 seasons at Kansas State. How much better can he be in a system more suited to his skill-set?
He had 51 TDs (12 rushing) the past 2 years and completed 60% of his passes for 4,276 yards.
Best fits: Michigan State, Arkansas, Nebraska.
3. Will Rogers, Mississippi State
Flourished for 3 years in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, then never really fit in the new offense of OC Kevin Barbay. His numbers were down across the board, and he missed time with injuries.
He could return to Mississippi State because new coach Jeff Lebby’s offense uses Air Raid principles, but more than likely he will move on. The big question: Does he stay in the SEC, or move to the Big Ten or Big 12?
Best fits: Auburn, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State.
4. Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
McCall entered the portal after last season and visited numerous schools, including Florida and Auburn. He decided to return to Coastal with new coach Tim Beck, missed the last 5 games with a head injury and his numbers plummeted from the previous 2 seasons.
McCall was a top-10 quarterback in college football in 2022 and could again reach that level with the right coach and program. If Jamey Chadwell leaves Liberty for a Power 5 job (Duke?), don’t be surprised if McCall follows.
Best fits: Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky.
5. AJ Swann, Vanderbilt
Watch his tape. He’s a talented thrower who didn’t fit at Vandy, for a variety of reasons.
Swann has a big frame (6-3, 230) and big arm and is deceptively athletic. Put him in an offense that has pieces around him, and watch him produce. In 2 seasons at Vandy, he bounced in and out of the lineup and had a TD/INT ratio of 22/9.
In the right program, he will be the steal of the portal season.
Best fits: Maryland, Kentucky, Auburn.
6. Brendan Sorsby, Indiana
Sorsby shared time with Tayven Jackson and finally earned the starting job for good in mid-October — and the Hoosiers started making things interesting week after week.
In 6 starts, Sorsby had 17 TDs (4 rushing) and 5 INTs, but IU won only once — and upset of Wisconsin in Bloomington. Only a freshman, he has 3 seasons of eligibility remaining. With the right program, he could develop into an elite player.
He has a live arm and is a willing runner.
Best fits: Michigan State, Iowa, Kentucky.
7. Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
Injuries slowed his development in the past 2 seasons, his numbers dropped and the environment (outside of the team) became too toxic to stay.
He has thrown 17 INTs in the past 2 seasons, and he’s not the same player he was in 2021, when his productive season (25 TDs, 6 INTs) led to NFL Draft analysts projecting him as a 1st-round pick in 2023 draft.
That clearly hasn’t happened. Maybe a fresh start and a new system will lead to productive change.
Best fits: Pittsburgh, NC State, Rutgers.
8. Tyler Shough, Texas Tech
Big, strong and uber-talented, Shough has had problems staying healthy for an entire season.
His career has been truncated for one reason or another: The 2020 season at Oregon because of COVID, and the 2021-23 seasons at Texas Tech because of various injuries and getting beaten out for the starting job.
His career TD/INT ratio is solid (46/17), but his career completion percentage (63.2) isn’t as high as you’d like for a volume thrower. He has a high ceiling, and if he stays healthy, can be a productive starter at a major program.
The question: Who will take a chance on talented but injury-prone player?
Best fits: South Carolina, Nebraska, Baylor.
9. Max Brosmer, New Hampshire
One of the top quarterbacks in the FCS level the last 2 seasons, throwing for 6,613 yards with 63 TDs (7 rush) and only 14 INTs. Overlooked in the recruiting cycle despite a huge season playing in the state of Georgia’s 2nd biggest classification at Centennial High School.
Georgia offered him a preferred walkon position on the roster, but Brosmer decided to play at New Hampshire. Now he has 1 season remaining, and could come back to play against his home state team in the right situation.
Best fits: Syracuse, Auburn, Vanderbilt.
10. Matthew Sluka, Holy Cross
Sluka was the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year this season and is a 2-time All-Patriot League first-team selection. He produced 97 career TDs (38 rushing) in 4 seasons and threw for 5,916 yards.
Sluka isn’t a finished product as a thrower; this was the first season he completed more than 60% of his passes. Holy Cross uses run-oriented zone-read offense, and Sluka wasn’t asked to do much in the passing game.
That will have to expand at the FBS level, but he has the arm talent to make it work.
Best fits: Nebraska, Northwestern, Vanderbilt.