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College Football: The Transfer Player

Posted by Andrew McKillop on July 4, 2011

Last season Auburn’s Cam Newton undoubtedly made the greatest impact on the college football landscape.  What makes Newton’s success last year unique is that he was a transfer player.  Originally Newton enrolled with Florida, but he was kicked off the team and transferred to Blinn (TX) “junior” College.

Although Newton technically transferred from a junior college, he did originally start his college career with a 4-year NCAA institution.  Newton was the first Heisman Trophy winner since Glenn Davis (1946) to have been on the football team of two different 4-year schools.  Newton also became only the third consensus All-American QB in the last 50 years to have been on two different 4-year schools.

It was also the only time in the last 50 years in which two players on the same consensus All-American team played for two different 4-year schools.  Check out the list below.

Legend: JC (The junior college a player attended before returning to a 4-year school)

Player Pos AA Transferred To From JC
Alex Kroll C 1961 Rutgers Yale
Jarvis Redwine RB 1980 Nebraska Oregon St
J. D. Maarleveld OL 1985 Maryland Notre Dame
Troy Aikman QB 1988 UCLA Oklahoma
Tom Rouen P 1989 Colorado Colorado St
Mark Bounds P 1991 Texas Tech West Texas A&M
Sean Snyder P 1992 Kansas St Iowa
Craig Page C 1998 Georgia Tech Louisville
Josh Heupel QB 2000 Oklahoma Weber St Snow (UT)
Cam Newton QB 2010 Auburn Florida Blinn (TX)
Chase Beeler C 2010 Stanford Oklahoma



This year we might see another transfer player make a big impact.  A few weeks ago former North Carolina State QB Russell Wilson announced he was transferring to Wisconsin.  Wilson will be able to play this fall because of the NCAA’s rule on exempting graduated transfer players from sitting out one season.

Wilson comes to Wisconsin with a great career stat line.  At NC St he passed for over 8,500 yards, and threw 76 touchdowns to 26 interceptions.  In the last 25 years, no transfer QB from a  major school has even come close to measuring up to Wilson’s pre-transfer statistics.

Below is a listing of QB’s  from the past 25 years, who transferred from their then “major level” school, and for at least one season led that school in pass attempts.

Legend: Stats (Career Stats at the aforementioned school (Pass Yards-Pass Touchdowns-Interceptions))

Player

 

From

Seasons

Stats

 

Transfer

Seasons

Stats

Bobby Watters

 

SMU

1984-86

2112-14-17

 

Arizona

1987-88

909-6-9

Jeff George

 

Purdue

1986

1217-4-15

 

Illinois

1988-89

4995-31-20

Brian    Fox

 

Purdue

1988

1250-7-13

 

Florida

1990-91

? ¹

Bret Johnson

 

UCLA

1989

1791-12-13

 

Michigan St

1991-92

413-3-3

Bret Powers

 

Arizona St

1990-91

1777-8-15

 

Ohio St

1993

721-7-6

Derek Canine

 

SMU

1995

1019-7-6

 

TCU

1997

685-3-4

Matt LoVecchio

 

Notre Dame

2000-01

1267-12-5

 

Indiana

2003-04

3729-16-16

Brandon Hance

 

Purdue

2000-01

1569-9-10

 

USC

2003-04

5-10-50-0-0

Kris Heavner

 

Arizona

2003

2338-12-19

 

Baylor

NP ²

-

Joe  Dailey

 

Nebraska

2003-04

2142-19-21

 

North Carolina

2006-07

1316-7-11

Sam Keller

 

Arizona St

2003-05

3018-26-11

 

Nebraska

2007

2422-14-10

Ben   Mauk

 

Wake Forest

2004-06

1522-4-10

 

Cincinnati

2007

3121-31-9

Allan Evridge

 

Kansas St

2005

1365-6-7

 

Wisconsin

2007-08

1015-5-5

Mitch Mustain

 

Arkansas

2006

894-10-9

 

USC

2008-10

505-3-3

Steven Threet

 

Michigan ³

2008

1105-9-7

 

Arizona St

2010

2534-18-16

Robert Marve

 

Miami (FL)

2008

1293-9-13

 

Purdue

2010

512-3-4

Jeremiah Masoli

 

Oregon

2008-09

3891-28-11

 

Mississippi

2010

2039-14-13

Russell Wilson

 

NC St

2008-10

8545-76-26

 

Wisconsin

2011

?

Tate Forcier

 

Michigan

2009-10

2647-17-14

 

?

-

-

Tom Savage

Rutgers

2009-10

2732-16-10


Arizona

2011

?

¹ I couldn’t find any statistics for Brian Fox at Florida.  Probably because he didn’t play.  Most archived articles say Fox never entered the field while at Florida.

² DP (Did not play). Kris Heavner transferred to Baylor, but shortly transferred back to Arizona

³ Steven Threet originally enrolled at Georgia Tech in 2007, but transferred to Michigan before the season started.


Looking at the list I would say 14 out of the 17 applicable transfer QB’s, performed relatively the same or worse at the school they transferred to.

Jeff George from Purdue to Illinois, and Ben Mauk from Wake Forest to Cincinnati, saw great improvements in their numbers after transferring.  Bret Powers saw moderate improvement after transferring from Arizona State to Ohio State.

Sam Keller from Arizona State to Nebraska, and Jeremiah Masoli from Oregon to Mississippi saw substantial decreases in their numbers after transferring.


Some more interesting notes:

  • Notice that Purdue has lost three of the QB’s on the list above.
  • Michigan’s primary starter in 2008 (Steven Threet), and 2009 (Tate Forcier) have/will transferred out of the program.  They are the only “major” program in the last 25 years to have their primary starting QB’s transfer out in back to back years.



References: I found a great website that publishes hard to find college statistics.  I verified  with media guides, that the statistics on their website are correct.  They are still building up, but I consider them to be a great new resource.  Be sure to check out: TotalFootballStats.com.

Sports-Reference.com/College Football, College Football Data Warehouse, Phil Steele Publications

Additional/Newspaper Sources

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2 Responses to “College Football: The Transfer Player”

  1. Tex Noel said

    Once again, Andrew…

    Great indepth research on your information.

    Keep-up the outstanding work; as I always learn something when reading your work.

    • Andrew McKillop said

      Thanks Tex. It took longer than I anticipated to go through all the consensus All-America teams.

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