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Transfer Portal 2022-23: Ranking the Top 10 Available Quarterbacks (So Far)

Devin Leary, NC State

Updated: 12/28/2022*

The new era of college football has been on display this winter, with players entering the NCAA transfer portal at a dizzying rate. From graduate transfers looking for one more home to end their collegiate careers, to young, untested prospects with potential, there's something for everyone this year. There's plenty to talk about already, but I thought I'd begin my breaking down the available options at the game's most important position. These players have all entered the portal, but few have committed and there could be even more set to enter in the near future. However, we have to start somewhere, and I thought beginning with the best available right now would be the right choice.

1. Devin Leary, NC State -> Kentucky

Career Stats: 568-944 (60.2%), 6,807 passing yards, 67 total TD, 16 INT

Possible Destinations: N/A

Devin Leary is a prime example of how the transfer portal has changed the collegiate game. He's an accomplished quarterback who entered 2022 as an All-ACC selection and likely high NFL Draft selection. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending injury in October and youngster M.J. Morris was impressive in relief. Leary saw the writing on the wall and now enters the portal as one of the most valuable commodities available. Injuries have been an unfortunate reality during his career, but there's no denying his worth when fully healthy; in 2021, Leary went for over 3,000 passing yards and 35 touchdowns, with just five interceptions. He's an experienced, consistent signal-caller looking for a one-year pit stop where he can show NFL scouts he's still worthy of a chance on Sundays. Leary recently committed to Kentucky, a QB-needy team looking to jolt their offense after a rough season, as they bring back OC Liam Coen to the same role he held in 2021.

2. Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina -> TBD

Career Stats: 549-780 (70.4%), 8,019 passing yards, 1,053 rushing yards, 94 total TD, 8 INT

Possible Destinations: Florida, Liberty, NC State

Speaking of Coastal Carolina, their multi-year starter, Grayson McCall, recently hit the portal himself. It's a massive loss for the Chanticleers, but an understandable one. Head coach Jamey Chadwell left for Liberty and McCall is likely looking to show what he can do at the Power Five level, unless he decides to reunite with Chadwell in Lynchburg, Virginia. McCall is one of my favorite players in college football right now; he's quite the character, sporting a mullet and playing with fearlessness, but he backs it up. He put up incredibly impressive numbers running an interesting scheme at Coastal, and set a single-season NCAA record for passing efficiency in 2021. McCall may be the most accomplished quarterback available, but he's behind Leary only because of questions on how he will fit in a more traditional offense. What Coastal Carolina ran under Chadwell was very unique, and it's hard to know how effective McCall will be in a different system, especially if he does jump to the Power Five level. He's still certainly worth the risk and it looks like Florida is the frontrunner right now to land his services.

3. D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson -> Oregon State

Career Stats: 515-860 (59.9%), 5,681 passing yards, 913 rushing yards, 51 total TD, 17 INT

Possible Destinations: N/A

A former five-star recruit who first burst onto the scene in 2020 when Trevor Lawrence missed time with COVID, D.J. Uiagalelei's time at Clemson has come to a close. Many may be quick to call it a disappointing tenure for the California native, but "D.J. U" battled injuries, questionable play-calling, and a receiver group that was a step below past Clemson teams. It certainly felt like he needed a change-of-scenery, and with Cade Klubnik undoubtedly the quarterback of the future, his decision to enter the portal was no shock. He recently announced his decision to transfer to Oregon State, forming an interesting rivalry between him and his younger brother, Matayo, who announced his commitment to Oregon. It seems like a good fit for him out on the West Coast and he instantly becomes the most talented Beaver quarterback since at least Sean Mannion.

4. Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State -> TBD

Career Stats: 765-1,253 (61.1%), 9,553 passing yards, 1,956 rushing yards, 85 total TD, 40 INT

Possible Destinations: Florida, Arizona State, Illinois, Missouri, Virginia Tech

Most of the quarterbacks on this list were not surprising additions to the portal. They either had a coach or coaches leave for a different job, suffered an injury last fall, or saw a rising name below them on the depth chart. Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders doesn't fit nicely into any of those categories, and his decision to spend his fifth and final year elsewhere was a real surprise. Sure, Sanders did struggle with injuries while in Stillwater, but he was still the favorite to be the starter once again in 2022. However, the longtime Cowboy is now essentially a free agent, and there should be ample interest. Sanders has earned a reputation as a gunslinger with a rocket of an arm, but he seemed to hold back at times with the Cowboys. He put up solid numbers under Mike Gundy and company, but was never considered an elite signal-caller in the Big 12. Still, a lot of Power Five teams would be interested in an experienced, solid piece like him.

5. Brennan Armstrong, Virginia -> TBD

Career Stats: 685-1,131 (60.6%), 9,034 passing yards, 1,267 rushing yards, 78 total TD, 35 INT

Possible Destinations: NC State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Baylor

Think coaching doesn't matter in high-level college football? Look no further than the case of former Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong. Under the leadership of offensive coordinator Robert Anae, Armstrong passed for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2021 and was one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Following Anae's departure to the same post at Syracuse, things went south for Armstrong at Virginia as he suffered through a season in which he had just over 2,000 yards and a 7-12 TD-INT ratio, with the Cavaliers going 3-8. Armstrong is now in the portal looking to wrap up his long career in a big way, and there should be plenty of interest. Despite his struggles this past year, he's proven to be a capable leader, with a quality arm, and the ability to make plays with his legs. There's a chance Armstrong could pair up with Anae again, who is now OC at NC State, but if not, plenty of other Power Five schools will be in the mix.

6. Hudson Card, Texas -> Purdue

Career Stats: 127-194 (65.5%), 1,523 passing yards, 12 total TD, 2 INT

Possible Destinations: N/A

A former high-profile recruit who stayed in his native Austin to begin his collegiate career, Hudson Card earned the Texas starting quarterback job out of fall camp a season ago. After a rough performance in the loss to Arkansas, Steve Sarkisian instead turned to Casey Thompson, and Card was relegated to bench duty. He had another opportunity to win the starting job again this past fall, but couldn't beat out Quinn Ewers. While Card did still see action, the return of Ewers and the impending arrival of Arch Manning left him forced to move on. Although his resume isn't quite as strong or lengthy as other quarterbacks on this list, he's a high-upside signal-caller who has impressed in the short spurts of action we've seen of him. 

7. Cade McNamara, Michigan -> Iowa

Career Stats: 267-463 (63.1%), 3,181 passing yards, 23 total TD, 7 INT

Possible Destinations: N/A

It's not often a player with a CFB Playoff appearance and Big Ten Title under his belt hits the portal, but so is the case with Cade McNamara. McNamara led the Wolverines to a dream 2021 campaign, even though his numbers didn't jump off the page (2,576 yards, 16 total TD) but lost his job to up-and-comer J.J. McCarthy. After sticking around for the end of the season, McNamara entered the portal and made a quick decision to land elsewhere in the Big Ten, joining Iowa. It's an interesting decision; the Hawkeyes aren't exactly known for producing elite-level quarterbacks and the offense was among the worst in the country this past fall. However, McNamara should be a clear upgrade over Spencer Petras and company, and he's a proven leader who is a great locker room guy. He may not have the ceiling of a player like Hudson Card, but he has a high floor and should put together a stellar 2023.

8. Shedeur Sanders, Jackson State -> Colorado

Career Stats: 613-896 (68.4%), 6,963 passing yards, 156 rushing yards, 79 total TD, 14 INT

Possible Destinations: N/A

There may not have been a splashier hire this coaching carousel than Colorado landing Deion Sanders. To add to the intrigue, "Primetime" is bringing both of his college-aged sons with him, Shedeur and Shilo. While Shilo will have to fight for snaps somewhere in the defensive backfield, there's no question that Shedeur will be the Day One starter, with Deion proclaiming so in his first press conference. It's not a surprise that Shedeur will take over starting duties in Boulder and the former four-star recruit has lived up to his billing so far in his collegiate career. However, he is taking the jump from an FCS school playing in the SWAC to a Power Five program; there's a major learning curve here, and he's not going to be able to get away with the same types of things he did the last two seasons. The athletes that Utah, USC, and the likes will throw at you in the Pac-12 are a completely different breed than what he saw in the SWAC. It doesn't help that Colorado's receiver corps may be the worst in the league, although there is some dust that needs to settle here from the transfer portal. Needless to say, I envision some growing pains for Shedeur in 2023, but his raw talent should put him in a good spot in the long-term.

9. Kedon Slovis, Pittsburgh -> BYU

Career Stats: 836-1,268 (65.9%), 9,973 passing yards, 68 total TD, 33 INT

Possible Destinations: N/A

Few players in college football were greater surprises back in 2019 than Kedon Slovis. Slovis began the year third on the USC depth chart but injuries forced him into a larger role than expected, and he delivered. Slovis passed for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns, looking like the next great quarterback in Southern California. Unfortunately, he was never able to build on that, as COVID essentially robbed him of the 2020 campaign and he then suffered through an underwhelming 2021 in the midst of a brutal season for the Trojans. With Lincoln Riley coming in and bringing Caleb Williams with him, Slovis moved across the country, landing at Pittsburgh. Playing in a rather pedestrian offense, Slovis had a quiet season, tossing for 2,397 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now, he enters the portal once again as a graduate transfer and is likely to return out West. It's unlikely he'll ever reach his 2019 heights again, but he brings plenty of experience and he's proven to be at the very least, serviceable. 

10. Hank Bachmeier, Boise State -> TBD

Career Stats: 536-870 (61.6%), 6,605 passing yards, 44 total TD, 19 INT

Possible Destinations: Stanford, Oregon State, San Jose State, Baylor, 

Hank Bachmeier first exploded on to the scene back in 2019, when a dazzling showing as a true freshman against Florida State looked like the introduction to something special. Since then, Bachmeier's career has been defined mainly be injuries and uneven play. He's had stretches where he's been very effective but his entire Boise State career feels like a major what-if. It didn't exactly help his reputation that the Broncos became flaming hot after he left the program and entered the portal in September this fall. Even so, Bachmeier has ample experience and has a talented arm. If he can improve his decision-making and stay healthy, it wouldn't shock me at all if he has a strong finale to his career. A jump to the Power Five feels like the likely outcome, and there is likely plenty of interest on the West Coast.

Others to Watch

J.T. Daniels, West Virginia -> Rice: Former Gatorade Player of the Year J.T. Daniels has been playing quarterback in college since 2018 and here's the crazy thing: he still has one more year of eligibility after 2023. It's been a wild journey for him, as he went from USC, to Georgia, then West Virginia, and now what is likely his final pit stop, Rice.

Graham Mertz, Wisconsin -> Florida: Two things can be true at once; Graham Mertz was a massive disappointment during his time in Madison, and he also brings experience and a decent arm. Florida desperately needed a quarterback following the departure of Anthony Richardson, but Mertz will have to stave off Jack Miller and hyped newcomer Jaden Rashada. 

Collin Schlee, Kent State -> UCLA: Collin Schlee put up decent numbers in his lone season as starter in an explosive Kent State offense, and now takes the leap to Westwood. The system he played in at Kent is certainly different from what he'll run at UCLA, and he will also have to hold off a talented freshman in five-star Dante Moore.

Haynes King, Texas A&M -> Georgia Tech: Brent Key has his new quarterback after multiyear starter Jeff Sims left for Nebraska in the form of Haynes King. It was a frustrating couple seasons for King in College Station, as he broke his leg in 2021 then suffered through a rough 2022. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good, and less pressure feels like a major positive.

Tony Muskett, Monmouth -> Virginia: Coming from an FCS program like Monmouth, Tony Muskett isn't going to receive the same type of attention as others on this list, but he has big-time talent. He was the Big South's Offensive Freshman of the Year during the weird FCS spring year, and followed it up with two quality campaigns. He hopes to reinvigorate a Virginia offense that had a brutal year during Tony Elliott's debut.

* = Transfer destinations have been updated as of 12/28/2022. Any quarterback that entered after 12/22/2022 was not eligible for this initial list, including Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman.

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