RALPH D. RUSSO,AP College Football Writer
The transfer quarterback market was vibrant this offseason.
Looking for the next Russell Wilson, several teams brought in quarterbacks eligible to play right away because they had either graduated or were coming from a school that had been sanctioned by the NCAA.
Here are six quarterbacks changing locales this season and capable of making a big difference with their new teams:
1) DREW ALLEN, Syracuse from Oklahoma.
The departure of Ryan Nassib left a huge hole. Allen has Orange fans believing they have another NFL quarterback to replace the one who just left. He’s not being handed the job, sophomore Terrell Hunt is putting up a serious fight, but it’ll be surprising if the new coaching staff doesn’t go with Allen’s upside over Hunt’s familiarity with the offense.
2) STEVEN BENCH, South Florida from Penn State.
The window to transfer without sitting out a season because of NCAA sanctions was still open at Penn State and Bench decided to take advantage of it after a freshman season in which he threw eight passes and completed two. He’s competing with senior Bobby Eveld and redshirt sophomore Matt Floyd, who got a head start on Bench in the spring, to be the starter in coach Willie Taggart’s first season in Tampa.
3) ALLAN BRIDGFORD, Southern Mississippi from California.
Bridgford joins a wide-open quarterback competition in Hattiesburg. Cole Weeks and Ricky Lloyd both started games last season for the 0-12 Golden Eagles, but that hardly matters with a new coaching staff. Bridgford was 31 for 68 for 277 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions last season for Cal. He made three starts, but wasn’t in the plans when Sonny Dykes took over in Berkeley. Maybe he’ll get a chance to run new Southern Miss coach Todd Monken’s spread offense.
4) BRANDON MITCHELL, North Carolina State from Arkansas.
Mitchell backed-up Ryan Mallet and Tyler Wilson, and even moved to receiver to get on the field at Arkansas. He also played some for the Razorbacks’ basketball team. His speed and mobility would seem to be the perfect fit for the spread offense new coach Dave Doeren wants to run. He still has to beat out junior Pete Thomas, who is more in the Mike Glennon mold.
5) JAMEILL SHOWERS, UTEP from Texas A&M.
Showers will forever go down as the guy whom Johnny Manziel beat out in the preseason before going on to become the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy. And that was after Showers was the backup to eventual first-round NFL draft pick Ryan Tannehill. He’ll finally get a chance with the Miners to show what he’s got, and it will likely make Sean Kugler’s first season as UTEP’s coach much better.
6) CLINT TRICKETT, West Virginia from Florida State.
Trickett saw some action behind EJ Manuel during the past two seasons, including two starts. He was hoping this season the job would be his, but when it became clear that Jameis Winston was the future at Florida State, Trickett decided to look elsewhere. He’s got a good arm and shown a willingness to deliver a pass in the face of pressure. He’s in a three-way competition with redshirt freshman Ford Childress and junior Paul Millard to become Dana Holgorsen’s next prolific passer.
More notable quarterback transfers that could make a difference this season: Brock Berglund, North Texas from Kansas; Jake Heaps, Kansas from BYU; Nick Montana, Tulane from Washington; Tom Savage, Pittsburgh from Rutgers via Arizona; Jesse Scroggins, Arizona from USC; Connor Wood, Colorado from Texas; Scotty Young, Louisiana Tech from Texas Tech.