It’s strange living in a world where there’s a thriving market for free agent college quarterbacks, but being strange doesn’t make it less of a reality. The NCAA’s post-grad transfer rule has totally changed things at the quarterback position.
Get beat out in spring ball? Transfer. A highly-touted quarterback who hasn’t found the field after two years? Take a boatload of classes, get a degree, and transfer. See a team that appears to have all the pieces to be pretty good squad but, for one reason or another, is missing a quarterback? Transfer.
Miami is the latest school to use the rule to address an off-season need. Former BYU and Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps — yes, this is his third school — announced Sunday that he will be joining the Hurricanes:
Hurricanes coach Al Golden said in April that redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen had a narrow lead in the race to start the team’s 2014 season opener against Louisville, but pointedly did not rule out adding a senior transfer to the mix. Projected starter Ryan Williams tore his ACL in spring and is reportedly hoping to return in time for the Hurricanes’ Sept. 20 game against Nebraska, while incoming freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier will also appear on the depth chart.
In Heaps, the Hurricanes have added a quarterback who ranked as the No. 3 quarterback in the class of 2010 and a top-100 overall prospect according to the 247Sports composite. Heaps signed with BYU and won the starter’s job, but eventually lost out and joined Charlie Weis in Kansas.
Kansas didn’t really work out either. Heaps completed 49 percent of his passes last season, throwing eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions and lost the starting job in the spring to sophomore Montell Cozart (who completed 36.5 percent of his passes in 2013).
Heaps at least gives Miami another option in 2014, though its hard to call it a no-brainer that he’ll be the starter on day one. Heaps still has to learn the playbook, earn the trust of his teammates and then beat out two guys right away who have already done both things to at least some degree. And that’s without even factoring in Williams who, as mentioned above, is aiming for a return against Nebraska.
That always seemed like a long shot to me. Maybe Williams will be healthy enough to play, sure, but stepping back in the saddle on the road against a top-25 caliber team? That’s a big ask.
Hence Heaps. Should be interesting come Sept. 20.
Bad News Season
Take out Father’s Day (hope you had a good one) and the World Cup every four years and nothing good happens in June. Certainly not in a college football context.
This is the time where players return to campus or show up to school for the first time to take part in summer workouts. They’re in school, taking a few summer classes, but really they’re just there to get ready for the season and, frankly, there’s not much to do.
And you know what they say about idle hands. Two Huskers — defensive back Boaz Joseph and true freshman wide receiver Jariah Tolbert — made the wrong kind of news over the weekend, which is really the only kind of news to make at this point in the college football calendar. From the Lincoln Journal Star:
* At about noon June 7, UNL police caught Joseph on a surveillance camera stealing a “bait bike” equipped with GPS to track bicycle thieves, according to UNL police Sgt. Dave Dibelka. Police tracked Joseph using the GPS, and cited him on suspicion of theft.
He told officers “he did not want to walk to a business in the downtown area,” according to the police report.
* Just after midnight June 12, UNL police received a call of someone smoking marijuana on the Vine Street fields on 19th and Vine streets, Dibelka said. When an officer arrived, the person smoking took off running. The officer, along with another in the area, chased down the smoker, tackled him and “a brief struggle occurred” before they put him in handcuffs, according to the police report.
Tolbert was jailed for obstructing a police officer, and was also cited for having drug paraphernalia and less than an ounce of marijuana, Dibelka said.
“Coach (Bo) Pelini and athletics administration are aware of both incidents involving football student-athletes,” the UNL athletic department said in a statement. “We have no additional comment at this time.”
I really don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a coach in this situation. There are NCAA limits to how much you can be around the players during the summer, so you mostly just let them go and hope they make the right choices. Nebraska’s fared pretty well in that regard. But any time you have a group of 120 or so people together in any context, some of them are always going to make some bad choices. That’s not a pass for the behavior described above, just math.
And it almost always seems to happen during the down time in a college football player’s schedule. Last June it was Ernest Suttles and Thomas Brown. The Alex Lewis incident last May happened after he and quarterback Jordan Webb were out celebrating a Colorado teammate’s graduation. The incident that led to Avery Moss’ public indecency charge happened post-regular season but before Nebraska’s bowl game in 2012. And on and on we go: Mike Caputo (Dec. 2011), Ricky Thenarse (Dec. 2010), Baker Steinkuhler (Dec. 2010) it’s always the down time that gets them.
College football fans talk a lot about “surviving the offseason.” Just know that you’re probably not alone in that sentiment. I imagine college football coaches feel much the same way.
The Grab Bag
Good interview with Marvin Sanders from Steve Sipple. … Here’s another good one over at Husker Max: Joe Hudson recounts how Bob Churchich turned him into a rabid Husker fan. … Here’s the latest dumb thing Johnny Manziel did. (Warning: Explicit Language if you play the video.) … Maryland’s excited about the Big Ten. … Scott Frost makes Mitch Sherman’s list of “10 coaches who adapt and thrive.”