At the end of last April, Baylor coach Dave Aranda had to make a season-defining decision: Gerry Bohanon or Blake Shapen?
Bohanon led the Bears to a Big 12 title in 2021, but it was Shapen who won the title game. Aranda needed to pick his starting quarterback for 2022. And he needed to do so after the Bears’ spring game, knowing whichever quarterback he didn’t pick would enter the transfer portal. He bet on the sophomore over the senior, and Bohanon transferred to USF.
The May 1 deadline to enter the portal and play immediately at a new school in the fall necessitated that decision a year ago. This year, it’s a two-week transfer window from May 1-15. The post-spring reopening of the portal should bring another frantic flurry of moves. Could this new May window also mean more early ultimatums for QB competitions?
Backup quarterbacks aren’t waiting to become graduate transfers anymore. More than 70 percent of top-50 QB recruits are transferring these days, usually as soon as they lose one of these battles. So far, 115 FBS scholarship QBs have transferred during the 2022-23 portal cycle. It’s tough to predict how many others look to the May transfer window as their decision deadline and how many will stay patient and hope to win the job in August.
Looking back on the key quarterback battles entering the 2022 season, almost every runner-up ended up in the portal: Cade McNamara (Michigan), Hudson Card (Texas), Luke Altmyer (Ole Miss), Haynes King (Texas A&M), Jacolby Criswell (North Carolina), Zach Calzada (Auburn) and Donovan Smith (Texas Tech). But those players all kept competing through fall camp and waited until the end of the season to move on. In a couple of months, we’ll find out if the Baylor scenario was an outlier or more of a sign of the times.
Here are eight key competitions to keep an eye on this spring that could help determine who’s entering the portal in May.
Carson Beck vs. Brock Vandagriff, Gunner Stockton
Let’s start with the back-to-back national champs and their quarterback situation. Stetson Bennett’s steady leadership over the last two seasons has allowed the Bulldogs to stockpile blue-chip passers who haven’t had to play much behind him.
Beck has played 168 career snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, and the redshirt junior was quite efficient last season in seven appearances in blowout wins: 26 of 35, 310 passing yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and 6.1 yards per rush. Our aforementioned study of top-50 quarterback recruits from 2017 to ‘20 found that Beck was actually the only QB who didn’t start a game in his first three years and hasn’t transferred. He knows this job is worth the wait. Because he was a 2020 recruit, Beck has three remaining seasons of eligibility.