Once upon a time, a blue-chip quarterback recruit went to a nationally prominent program expecting to compete right away. When the quarterback arrived, though, he found himself seventh on the depth chart and spent three years trying to work his way up, playing only a handful of snaps on game day.
But the quarterback persevered and kept fighting for playing time, finally starting by his redshirt junior season — and even then had to share time with another highly touted prospect. It wasn’t easy, but it was a formative experience for Tom Brady, whose trials and tribulations at Michigan were rewarded in the NFL when he became the greatest to play his position.
If that sounds like a fairly tale to today’s wannabe Bradys, well, it is. In 2018, it almost certainly wouldn’t have happened that way — and it’s easy to wonder if Brady would have stuck around at all.
As attention turns to the College Football Playoff and the New Year’s Six bowl games this week, the quarterback transfer market is the story line roiling the sport behind the scenes, having now become as big a part of college football’s zeitgeist as marching bands and playoff expansion arguments.
In one way or another, it has affected each of the four Playoff teams this year:
►Clemson’s quarterback room, which included multiple five-star prospects and an incumbent starter when spring practice began, is down to just freshman Trevor Lawrence after the in-season departure of Kelly Bryant.
►According to multiple reports Monday, Notre Dame backup Brandon Wimbush, who lost his starting job after three games this season, will be in the market for a new team shortly.
►Oklahoma has made the Playoff in consecutive years with quarterbacks who transferred in, both of whom took home the Heisman Trophy along the way.
►And while nothing has been announced by Alabama’s former starter Jalen Hurts, the expectation is he will leave after the season and play his final year somewhere else after losing the job to Tua Tagovailoa.
Across college football, this is now the norm. Just last week Justin Fields, who some analysts viewed as one of the most gifted prospects to come out of high school in years, started the transfer process out of Georgia because he has no clear path to winning the starting job until 2020 or 2021 with Jake Fromm in the way.
Fields very well could end up at Ohio State, which just last spring had a glut of quarterbacks, prompting Joe Burrow to transfer to LSU, where he beat out Justin McMillan, who left in August and played a big role in getting Tulane to its first bowl game since 2013.
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