Roughly 200 quarterbacks have transferred from FBS programs over the last two seasons, and the gamut runs from former 5-star recruits to walk-ons.
It is the rare program that has yet to be impacted by it.
Ohio State, of course, is not one of those rare programs.
There have always been transfers in college football — especially at quarterback, but the transfer portal has now made it easier and more player-friendly to transfer.
Coaches understand that generally only one quarterback is going to get enough snaps to be happy. And when the starting quarterback is an underclassman, that just means an extra year of two or waiting for the guys behind him. Not everybody has that kind of patience anymore, which is why the portal is so loaded up right now.
Because of the transfers of Martell and Baldwin, as well as the departure of Dwayne Haskins to the NFL, the Buckeyes entered 2019 with just two scholarship quarterbacks. They eventually added a third via the portal in former Kentucky quarterback Gunnar Hoak, but Ohio State head coach Ryan Day’s ideal situation is to always have four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
That plan is getting harder and harder to accomplish because of the transferring, but he managed to meet that goal for this coming season by signing two quarterbacks — Jack Miller and CJ Stroud — in the 2020 recruiting class.
Miller had been committed to Day and the Buckeyes while Urban Meyer was still the head coach. Chasing another quarterback like Stroud while Miller had been loyal for so long could have backfired, but for Day this has always been about improving the numbers.
There is also the thought that in today’s game you need as many quarterbacks as you can get because some of them are going to be transferring in a year or two.
According to Day, however, they don’t sign quarterbacks with the idea that they may transfer.
“No, what we tell them is that we expect them to be here and graduate. That’s what we expect, Day said. “In this day and age, I know that the transfer portal is in there, but that’s not even a conversation. That’s not even something we bring up. It’s about coming in here, competing, winning a job and getting your degree and going on to do great things. That’s it.
“Everybody knows they’re going to have to compete, and the only thing I can guarantee is that there’s going to be two or three other guys in the room, really good players — because they’re getting recruited by Ohio State — that they’re going to have to compete against.”
There are different levels of players signed every year. Some are signed with the coaches knowing they’ll be able to contribute from game one, and there are other players who are signed with the coaches knowing that there will need to be a year or two of development before the production starts coming.
But they don’t sign players expecting to lose them in a year or two. Instead, they work with each player, intending to develop them to the point where they can contribute and then become a starter.
“That’s the promise you make in recruiting — we’re going to do everything we can to develop you,” Day said. “And yeah, I think this offense is very quarterback friendly, and when you look at our history and the past, what we’ve done here, having Dwayne and seeing what Joe did and Justin being in New York City, I think it speaks for itself.
“I think it’s exciting, and not being able to have to start right away is a good thing. I think it’s good when you can get developed. Those guys will be enrolled in school, they’ll get going with Mick on the mat drills and everything else, and then before you know it we’re in spring ball and we go from there.”
While neither CJ Stroud or Jack Miller — or Gunnar Hoak, for that matter — will be looked upon to win the starting job this spring, they will all be competing to become the backup. Then, if all goes as planned in 2020, Justin Fields will be leaving for the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning Stroud and Miller will be battling for a starting job.
The concern then becomes what happens to the guy who loses the job.
Day has an answer for that.
“If you believe in the system, if you believe in what goes on, you look at what J.T. [Barrett] and Cardale [Jones] and Braxton [Miller] did, you look at Joe got his degree from here,” he said. “He fought it out and it was hard, but he got his degree and things are going good for him and it went good for Dwayne, and so if you just hang in there and you work through it, good things are going to happen to you, and they’ll happen to these guys, as well.”