Matt Brown of Sports on Earth published a ranking of transfer quarterbacks this week. The list includes 15 guys, in order, who should have the biggest impact on their teams in 2017.
Nebraska’s transfer quarterback, Tanner Lee, showed up at No. 7 on the list:
After four years of Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska is turning to a somewhat unlikely place for its new quarterback, grabbing Lee from Tulane. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lee averaged only 5.9 yards per attempt with a 53.6 percent completion rate, 23 TDs and 21 INTs for the Green Wave, but despite the modest production there, he separated himself in the Cornhuskers’ competition after sitting out last season to earn the starting job entering the summer. That alone gives him a leg up on several names on this list who are still competing for jobs.
I’m not sure how much there is left to say about Lee at this point, at least in these parts. (Though he did recently get an impromptu pep talk along with the rest of the Huskers’ quarterbacks from Eric Crouch.) Husker fans know the stats. They know about the “maturity” and “leadership” Lee offers behind the scenes. They definitely know about the “fit.”
But that’s not what these lists are meant to do. It’s more a way for the general fan to get their arms around a big national trend. And in that sense, this list did its job because it gave me pause. Look at the schools involved.
Auburn will be a top-10 team to start the season. I have the Tigers at No. 5 in my preseason top 25 and a lot of that has to do with its new quarterback, former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
Florida will start the season in the top 25 because the Gators have won two SEC East titles on the strength of the defense. Florida won’t be the favorite to win the East in 2017, Georgia will, but would some reliable quarterback play flip that? And could former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire provide it? I have my doubts, and Zaire has to beat out two other challengers, but still a high-profile school in a high-profile spot.
Pittsburgh has been slowly gaining steam under Pat Narduzzi and now it adds former USC starter Max Browne to the mix. Arizona State heads into a make-or-break year for Coach Todd Graham with a former Alabama quarterback expected to take the reins. Baylor starts the Coach Matt Rhule era with former Arizona darling Anu Solomon. All pressure-filled situations in their own way.
And then there’s Nebraska, but you already know all the ins-and-outs of that.
So which one of those guys is Russell Wilson? When Wilson arrived at Wisconsin from North Carolina State before the 2011 seasons, the Badgers were thought to be good but probably not great. The preseason consensus had Wisconsin ranked 17th nationally and second in the division (RIP Leaders Division). But with Wilson at the helm, the Badgers were even better than the year before, averaging 44.1 points per game on their way to the Big Ten title, a Rose Bowl against Oregon and a top-10 finish.
I’m putting my money on Stidham.
The Grab Bag
- If you haven’t seen Athlon Sports preview magazine yet — it’s a great national preview, by the way — its 1-to-130 ranking is now online.
- Interesting read from Dennis Dodd on the College Athletic Protection Agreement, a contract-like agreement between school and athlete that some think could replace the National Letter of Intent.
- Five bold predictions for 2017, two of which include Northwestern’s Justin Jackson leading the nation in rushing and Kansas State winning the Big 12.
- ICYMI: If you’re a hoops junkie looking for a summer fix, Jacob Padilla has a recommendation.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.