‘Tis the season in college football. It is that time of the year when the bidding starts.
Sure, this is the season of coaching changes, but Thursday also marked the beginning of quarterback bidding season for schools, as Kyle Allen and Trevor Knight each announced that they were going to transfer.
Allen showed promise in 2014 with Texas A&M, but his growth was hindered this past season. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin did not handle the sophomore well. He tried to use both Allen and Kyler Murray but lacked a clear plan. A&M’s season went nowhere.
It is clear that Sumlin is able to bring top recruits to campus; the issue for him has been keeping them in Aggie colors and coaching them well. The handling of both Allen and Murray this season made each player quite inconsistent. Given this reality, it is not a shock that Allen would leave the school.
Allen had started 14 games in his Texas A&M career after taking over as the starter last season, replacing Kenny Hill. After Hill got off to a hot start, inconsistency bit him in the back. Allen took over and Hill eventually transferred. However, after Allen led the Aggies to a moderate measure of success late in 2014, Murray entered the equation.
This season, Allen completed just 56.5 percent of his passes and tossed 17 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. Three of those interceptions were pick-sixes in the Alabama game, putting even more pressure on the coaching staff to unwrap Murray.
Addressing his situation, Allen has said that he would like to transfer to a Power 5 school with an established senior quarterback in the program. Once his redshirt season and that quarterback’s final season are in the books, he would be able to compete for an open quarterback slot.
Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman pointed out that Oklahoma could be a repeat beneficiary of this pattern, as Baker Mayfield transferred there from Texas Tech and flourished at the school. Mayfield would be a senior, and the Sooners would fit for Allen. This move also meets A&M’s requirements, since the Aggies will not allow Allen to transfer to another SEC school or someone on their schedule.
How fascinating it is, then, that while OU is a target for Allen, another quarterback is leaving the Sooners.
Trevor Knight is leaving the Oklahoma program after Mayfield caused him to be a (near-)permanent clipboard-holder this past season. A fundamental difference between Knight and Allen is that the former is allowed to seek a transfer to any school, including those in the Big 12. Knight is also eligible to play right away, since he is a graduate transfer.
After leading the Sooners to an upset win over Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl, Knight looked like the next big thing. However, injuries and Mayfield eventually snuffed out his hopes of succeeding at OU. A key question will be if a coaching staff seeks Knight because it lacks better options, or if it thinks it can use him effectively, something Bob Stoops couldn’t manage to do. One could make a convincing argument on either side of the debate: Knight’s career at Oklahoma could be viewed as the product of Mayfield being a better option, but it also could be the result of Knight’s incompatibility with Lincoln Riley’s new system. Programs in search of quarterback help must do their homework on two fronts: Evaluating Knight as a player on a general level, but also assessing how well he fits into a specific kind of offense.
Here’s more from the transfer market:
Last week, Patrick Towles decided to transfer from Kentucky. However, Towles was the first graduate quarterback to transfer this offseason. Towles, like Kentucky, got off to a hot start in 2015, but faltered down the stretch and was eventually benched.
It is also expected that Montana State dual-threat quarterback Dakota Prukop will also transfer as a graduate. The has been speculation that Oregon would be a good fit for Prukop, and if he lands in Eugene, that would mark the second straight season the Ducks have taken that route. In 2015, Prukop tossed for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns, while rushing for 797 yards and 11 more scores. The Ducks did attain a measure of success this season with Vernon Adams, Jr., though his inconsistency in the first half of the season will cast a measure of doubt over the decision to take on another transfer from the FCS.
With so many schools, including Georgia and Oregon, looking for starters next season, and many more looking for help the following season with Allen, the pursuit of these quarterbacks will be hotly contested.
The bidding process is fierce for coaching changes, but it could be equally cutthroat for quarterbacks in college football’s equivalent of “free agency.”