Every Power Five conference will have its championship race impacted by at least one high-profile quarterback transfer.
What was once unique has become the norm, as more and more programs become comfortable with handing the starting job to a transfer. In this year’s cycle, many of the biggest names to hit the portal eventually reunited with former coaches, as in the case of Southern California transfer Caleb Williams (Lincoln Riley) and West Virginia addition JT Daniels (offensive coordinator Graham Harrell).
After his strong true freshman season at Oklahoma, Williams tops the list of the most impactful quarterback transfers in the Power Five for 2022.
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1. Caleb Williams, Southern California (Oklahoma)
The questions about Williams’ lack of experience are valid. That he spent only two months as the Sooners’ starter as a freshman should temper expectations somewhat with his move to USC, though Williams is still projected to be the most prolific passer in the Pac-12 and a strong Heisman Trophy candidate. Despite an inconsistent November, he still had 21 touchdowns and averaged 9.1 yards per attempt in nine games against Power Five competition.
2. Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma (Central Florida)
Beyond his two-plus years of starting experience at UCF and his sterling touchdown-to-interception ratio (70-14), Gabriel seems poised to flourish with the Sooners due to his connection to new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, who previously held the same stand with the Knights. He’s a great fit for the scheme and accompanying skill talent as the Brent Venables era gets underway in Norman.
3. Spencer Rattler, South Carolina, Oklahoma
This isn’t a boom-or-bust addition for Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks. Frankly, Rattler was more hit than miss during his time at OU despite the way his 2021 season went from Heisman-frontrunner status to holding a clipboard behind Williams. South Carolina provides the chance for a needed reboot. While there’s a clear top two among SEC quarterbacks—Alabama’s Bryce Young and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker—there’s a strong case for placing Rattler third among conference passers with the opportunity to push Hooker for all-league honors.
4. Kedon Slovis, Pittsburgh (Southern California)
An off-the-radar success as a freshman at USC, when he arrived as an unheralded three-star recruit but threw for 30 touchdowns, Slovis followed that with 17 touchdowns during an abbreviated sophomore year before losing his grasp on the starting job last season . He’s as proven a quarterback transfer in this year’s cycle, however, and will play behind a veteran offensive line and throw to one of the top receivers in the country in Jordan Addison.
5. Adrian Martinez, Kansas State (Nebraska)
Kansas State’s one-year rental is an experienced, high-volume yardage producer who could use the change in scenery after an up-and-down four years with the Cornhuskers. After being asked to do it all for the Cornhuskers, Martinez will now carry a much smaller load in a system balanced out by star running back Deuce Vaughn. He’s one major reason why the Wildcats have Top 25 potential.
6. Bo Nix, Oregon (Auburn)
Like Martinez, Nix needed a change in locale after failing to capitalize on his early success at Auburn. He’ll team up with former Auburn assistant and new Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, giving Nix a level of comfort with the Ducks’ new scheme. And he’ll be surrounded by a roster more than good enough to win the Pac-12 under first-year coach Dan Lanning.
7. JT Daniels, West Virginia (Georgia)
This is the third team for Daniels, who started at USC, transferred to Georgia, lost the starting job with the Bulldogs to Stetson Bennett and now gets one last chance to reignite his career under WVU coach Neal Brown, who desperately needs an eight-win season to solidify his job security. There are obvious questions about his ability to stay healthy, but the senior has the gifts to earn all-conference honors.
8. Max Johnson, Texas A&M (LSU)
Johnson may not start for A&M after doing the same at LSU; the Aggies could go with Haynes King, the opening-day starter in 2021, or incoming freshman Conner Weigman. But he represents the safest pick for Jimbo Fisher as the Aggies prepare to make a run at the national championship. Johnson threw 35 touchdowns against only seven interceptions in 523 attempts for the Tigers.
9. Quinn Ewers, Texas (Ohio State)
One of the top quarterback prospects in the era of nonstop recruiting coverage, Ewers is a wild card for his youth, lack of experience and the immense expectations heaped on the Longhorns’ biggest offseason addition. More of a development prospect than the proven names on this list, Ewers’ best days will come down the road.
10. Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss (Southern California)
Dart is in competition with last year’s backup, sophomore Luke Altmyer, in the race to replace Matt Corral in Lane Kiffin’s quarterback-friendly system. While Altmyer has the advantage of spending time in Kiffin’s scheme, Dart did start multiple games as a freshman at USC, unseating Slovis from the starting job but struggling as the Trojans’ season deteriorated under an interim coach.