While expectations are often unreasonable for transfer quarterbacks, the national leader in passer rating in three of the past six years has in fact been a transfer. That includes Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (from Texas Tech), Oregon's Vernon Adams (from Eastern Washington) and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson (from N.C. State). Actual results vary significantly -- after all, many quarterbacks transfer because they lost competitions -- but this year in particular feels ripe for high expectations for signal callers making a move to new teams.
The 2017 season features a deep group of former blue-chip recruits seeking to re-establish themselves in new places and live up to their recruiting billing, and several have landed at prominent schools. The latest big name is Malik Zaire, who after a long decision-making process, announced that he'd go from Notre Dame to Florida earlier this month.
So how does the 2017 class of transfer quarterbacks stack up? Let's rank them based on a combination of talent, opportunity and projected national impact for this season, keeping in mind that several competitions won't be decided until the preseason. This list does not include junior college transfers.
1. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (from Baylor). Most quarterbacks transfer because of a lack of playing time and no clear path to the starting job going forward. Stidham could be Baylor's starter right now, but he left the Bears after the scandal of last summer and the firing of Art Briles and did not play football last season. Now, he's arrived at Auburn as the potential answer to an ongoing quarterback quandary. While Sean White was solid last year when healthy, Stidham is a strong-armed likely upgrade and the clear favorite to win the job over the junior incumbent. One of the nation's top quarterback recruits in 2015, Stidham started three games after an injury to Seth Russell that season -- including 419-yard, three-TD starting debut at Kansas State -- before being sidelined by his own injury. The Tigers have been plagued by inconsistency on offense the past few years under Gus Malzahn, who brought in Chip Lindsey as the new coordinator, and they found a potentially great quarterback solution in Stidham, who has the ability to open up this offense again and help create even more room for excellent running backs to produce.
2. Will Grier, West Virginia (from Florida). Florida thought it had the solution to its quarterback problems in 2015. A four-star recruit who threw 77 touchdown passes as a high school senior, Grier redshirted at Florida, then beat out Treon Harris and started five games in 2016. However, after throwing for 1,204 yards, 10 TDs and three picks in six games, Grier was suspended the rest of the season for testing positive for a banned substance, which he said was Ligandrol. The suspension was actually a year, but Grier transferred and sat out all of last season and is hoping to be ruled eligible at the start of this season for West Virginia. If Grier can go in Week 1, he's the obvious starter, someone who could be an upgrade for the Mountaineers. They lost top receivers Shelton Gibson and Daikiel Shorts, but Grier is a talented player who should mesh well with head coach Dana Holgorsen.
3. Kyle Allen, Houston (from Texas A&M). In 2015, Kevin Sumlin juggled a pair of highly recruited potential stars at quarterback in Allen and Kyler Murray. He lost both of them. Allen went to Houston and Murray went to Oklahoma, and after sitting out a year, they're both eligible in 2017. Murray is stuck for another season behind Baker Mayfield, but Allen is in good position to win the battle to replace Greg Ward Jr. under new coach Major Applewhite. In his one year at Texas A&M, Allen completed 56.5 percent for 2,210 yards, 17 TDs and seven picks in an up-and-down campaign. Despite Tom Herman's departure, Allen steps into a great situation, as Houston has proven receivers in Linell Bonner and Steven Dunbar and can contend for the AAC title.
4. Malik Zaire, Florida (from Notre Dame). No transfer received more attention this year than Zaire, who kept several teams in limbo throughout the spring before deciding on Florida. Zaire has shown flashes of big-time ability, but ultimately he has attempted only 98 passes in his college career. He displaced Everett Golson at the top of the depth chart at the end of the 2014 season, leading the Irish to a bowl win over LSU, then torched Texas to open the 2015 season before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 2. He spent last offseason in a QB battle with DeShone Kizer, who held onto the job as Zaire threw only 23 passes. Kizer turned pro, but Zaire is gone from South Bend anyway, and he lands in an interesting spot. Florida has struggled at quarterback since Tim Tebow left, relying on transfers Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby last year. Florida may have won back-to-back SEC East titles, but the offense has been a mess. While Del Rio is back, the favorite out of spring ball was redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, a talented but raw and unproven passer. The talent level on the rest of the Florida offense has shown signs of improvement. Now, the Gators need a quarterback to step up and emerge as a reliable playmaker in Jim McElwain's third season. Given the presence of Franks and Zaire's limited production compared to the attention he has received, Zaire enters the 2017 season as a wild card as the Gators pursue a third straight division title, but there's no doubt that his arm strength and mobility are enticing.
5. Max Browne, Pittsburgh (from USC). Browne patiently waited his turn at USC. The class of 2013's No. 1 quarterback redshirted, then spent two years waiting behind Cody Kessler. Last year was supposed to be his breakout chance, and he won the starting job in the preseason. That lasted three games, as USC started 1-2 and he was replaced by Sam Darnold. Brown landed at Pitt for his final year of eligibility, where he's the frontrunner to replace Nathan Peterman. Unfortunately, offensive coordinator Matt Canada left for LSU -- RB James Conner and three linemen are gone, too -- but Browne will have a solid group of players around him led by Quadree Henderson and Jester Weah. Browne has thrown only 112 passes in four years, but he steps into a decent situation to try to re-establish himself in an ACC Coastal Division that lost all of its top quarterbacks.
6. Blake Barnett, Arizona State (from Alabama). Because it signs so many of them, Alabama has seen an exodus of high-profile quarterback recruits, too, none more touted than Barnett. A five-star recruit in 2015, Barnett redshirted, then started last year's opener against USC. By the end of the game, he lost the job to true freshman Jalen Hurts, and by the September, he announced his decision to transfer. Barnett won an appeal to become immediately eligible at Arizona State, where he is competing with junior Manny Wilkins for the starting job. Barnett has thrown only 19 college passes, but he has three years of eligibility left to try to grow into a star for the Sun Devils, who enter a pressure-packed season in which coach Todd Graham is on the hot seat. Defense is the bigger concern, but the offense quietly collapsed to 103rd in yards per play last year. Wilkins passed for 2,329 yards and rushed for 246 yards in 10 games. Barnett has one edge in that Arizona State's new offensive coordinator is Billy Napier, who spent the past four seasons as Alabama's receivers coach.
7. Tanner Lee, Nebraska (from Tulane). After four years of Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska is turning to a somewhat unlikely place for its new quarterback, grabbing Lee from Tulane. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lee averaged only 5.9 yards per attempt with a 53.6 percent completion rate, 23 TDs and 21 INTs for the Green Wave, but despite the modest production there, he separated himself in the Cornhuskers' competition after sitting out last season to earn the starting job entering the summer. That alone gives him a leg up on several names on this list who are still competing for jobs.
8. Brandon Harris, North Carolina (from LSU). A four-star recruit, Harris started 15 games and played in 25 at LSU, but he lost his job to Danny Etling last season and will benefit from a change of scenery after struggling in an often-criticized offense. Under coach Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels led the nation in yards per play two years ago with Marquise Williams at quarterback, then had the No. 2 overall pick in the draft at QB in Mitchell Trubisky last season. Harris has completed 53.9 percent for 2,756 yards, 20 TDs and 10 INTs with 370 rushing yards in his career. He steps into a competition with Nathan Elliott, Chazz Surratt and Logan Byrd -- none of whom have significant experience -- to run a rebuilding offense. The change in scheme to Fedora's spread approach should benefit Harris, but he has a lot to prove after how things went in Baton Rouge.
9. Thomas Sirk, East Carolina (from Duke). Few players have had worse injury luck. Sirk has had three Achilles injuries since 2013, including one in February 2016 and another shortly before last season started. Given a sixth year of eligibility, Sirk decided to transfer to East Carolina, where he'll be reunited with head coach Scottie Montgomery -- a Duke assistant from 2013-15. Sirk passed for 2,624 yards and rushed for 809 yards under Montgomery in his one season as starter. Sirk's familiarity with Montgomery gives him a chance to beat out junior Gardner Minshew for the job as the Prates try to rebound from a 3-9 season.
10. Anu Solomon, Baylor (from Arizona). A few years ago, Solomon appeared to be a rising star, as he started as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 3,793 yards and rushing for 291 yards to lead Arizona to a Pac-12 South title and the Fiesta Bowl. Injuries have derailed Solomon's career the past couple years, though, and last season he played in only five games as he dealt with knee problems and Brandon Dawkins took the reigns. At Baylor, Solomon at the very least provides sorely needed depth. He'll try to unseat sophomore Zach Smith, who threw for 1,526 yards, 13 TDs and seven INTs, taking over for Seth Russell late in the season. A healthy Solomon is the most proven quarterback on the roster for the new coaching staff, but Smith is likely the favorite after showing positive signs as a freshman, including a terrific bowl performance against Boise State.
11. Caleb Henderson, Maryland (from North Carolina). Henderson was a four-star recruit, but he threw only one pass as a reserve with the Tar Heels, prompting his transfer to the Terrapins. Maryland hasn't finished in the top 50 nationally in passer rating since 2010, and it has thrown eight more interceptions (38) than touchdown passes (30) over the past two seasons. Thus, Henderson's eligibility after sitting out last season is welcomed, and he'll try to win the competition for a team in dire need of some sort of stability and consistency at quarterback.
12. David Cornwell, Nevada (from Alabama). A top-100 overall recruit in the class of 2014, Cornwell never attempted a pass at Alabama. He's 6-foot-5, 228 pounds and a relative unknown after struggling to find his footing in Crimson Tide quarterback competitions. He's competing with junior Ty Gangi for the starting job under new head coach Jay Norvell, who is switching the Wolf Pack to an air raid style system, which should mean plenty of opportunities for the quarterback in a pass-heavy offense. Cornwell reportedly moved into the lead in the QB battle late in spring practice.
13. Kyle Bolin, Rutgers (from Louisville). One way to look good as a transfer? Go somewhere where things cannot get any worse. That's Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights finished last nationally in yards per play last year and last among Power Five teams in scoring. They were held under 100 total yards by both Michigan and Penn State, and they averaged five yards per pass attempt for the season. Bolin started six games at Louisville, throwing for 2,104 yards in his Cardinals career, but he saw little action behind Lamar Jackson in 2016. Bolin will battle junior Giovanni Rescigno and freshman Johnathan Lewis for the job under new offensive coordinator Jerry Kill.
14. Shane Morris, Central Michigan (from Michigan). Morris' Michigan career is unfortunately most remembered for the Brady Hoke concussion controversy back in 2014. A four-star recruit, Morris started two games and attempted 92 passes in his career, but only five of those attempts came in the past two years under Jim Harbaugh. Clearly lost in the shuffle on the depth chart in Ann Arbor, Morris will head to Mount Pleasant, where he hopes to beat out Tony Poljan to win the job replacing Cooper Rush.
15. Damian Williams, Texas State (from Mississippi State). Williams threw 117 passes at Mississippi State as a backup, first to Dak Prescott and then to Nick Fitzgerald. With Fitzgerald entrenched as the starter, Williams will spend his final college season trying to inject life into the Texas State offense. In Everett Withers' first year as head coach, the Bobcats juggled QBs and finished 127th in yards per play. With his running ability and experience compared to Texas State's other QBs, Williams stands a great chance of winning the job.