They’re back! 5 transfer quarterbacks that could make a difference


Quarterback Max Browne
Max Browne (

Hey, remember these guys? The 5-star quarterback that was going to send your team into the stratosphere for the next 3-4 seasons?

They played at places like USC, Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame and LSU.

Then things didn’t work out. They left the program. Transferred to another. And now they’re eligible for this season.

Will fortunes be restored to these quarterbacks … or will the become irrelevant?

Each one comes with promise and baggage. But it likely will come down to how well they perform in those first five games.

Here are the five quarterbacks who have the best shot at turning it around.

5. Max Browne, Pitt

Pros: The former USC quarterback still has five-star tools and is coming into a high-powered offense (albeit without last season’s offensive coordinator Matt Canada). He also will have an experienced offensive line and a couple of nice targets in receivers Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson.

Cons: As a captain at USC, he lost his starting job after three games last season to freshman Sam Darnold. Also, three out of Pitt’s first five games are against teams who made it to a bowl last season, including in-state rival and Big Ten runner-up Penn State.

Five five opponents: Youngstown State, at Penn State, Oklahoma State, at Georgia Tech, Rice

4. Kyle Allen, Houston:

Pros: Allen threw 33 touchdowns and 3,532 yards in two seasons at Texas A&M. While in high school, he was the top-rated quarterback by ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. He also made Athlon’s preseason All-AAC third team without taking an official snap for the Cougars.

Cons: He also threw 14 interceptions in two seasons at Texas A&M. That trend of inconsistency continued at the Cougars’ spring game as he threw a touchdown on his first series and then threw two interceptions in the first half.

Five five opponents: Texas-San Antonio, at Arizona, Rice, Texas Tech, at Temple

3. Blake Barnett, Arizona State

Pros: Arizona State is built for the former Alabama quarterback’s comfort. Barnett, who played his high school football in Southern California, will be playing for offensive coordinator Billy Napier, Alabama’s former wide receivers coach.

Cons: Last year’s starter Manny Wilkins is not expected to go quietly into that good night. In fact, there has been talk that the Sun Devils might try a two-quarterback system. And as the old saying goes: When you play two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback.

Five five opponents: New Mexico State, San Diego State, at Texas Tech, Oregon, at Stanford

2. Will Grier, West Virginia:

Pros: In his five starts at Florida, he was 5-0, led the Gators to a 28-27 come-from-behind victory over SEC East rival Tennessee and passed for 1,202 yards with 10 TDs. So excited was West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen when Grier officially was reinstated he declared “Happy West Virginia Day” on Twitter.

Cons: He was suspended for one year midway through the 2015 season at Florida for a positive PED test. The obvious question: Is he clean? And, the second obvious one: Can he still play at a high level?

Five five opponents: Virginia Tech (at Landover, Md.), East Carolina, Delaware State, at Kansas, at TCU

1. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Pros: At Baylor, Stidham had a 68.8 completion percentage with 12 touchdowns. One media outlet declared Stidham the SEC’s best quarterback as soon as he announced his intentions to play at Auburn. And used its analytical method to project Stidham should have a 60.6 completion percentage with about 2,370 yards passing.


Cons: Auburn fans are getting used to transfer QBs leading the team to the national title game in their first season (i.e., Cam Newton, Nick Marshall). They also are cautious about highly touted QBs bowing to pressure (Jeremy Johnson). And there is pressure on Stidham. If Stidham turns out to be more like the highly touted Jeremy Johnson, is going to be a miserable season for the Tigers.

Five five opponents: Georgia Southern, at Clemson, Mercer, at Missouri, Mississippi State.

Other QBs to watch: Central Michigan’s Shane Morris (Michigan); Florida’s Malik Zaire (Notre Dame); North Carolina’s Brandon Harris (LSU)

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