Those who have paid attention to the recent college football landscape know that it’s difficult to develop much depth at the quarterback position because of the transfer portal. But this is ridiculous.
New head coach Jedd Fisch just walked into a position where he currently has zero scholarship quarterbacks on the roster for spring practices. That’s going to change one way or another. Washington does have one commitment out there at the moment from Dermaricus Davis who is slated to enroll this summer in time for preseason camp.
Still, it’s obvious that Washington needs to add multiple quarterbacks before we hit spring practices. So what options are out there for Fisch and the Huskies? Here are some of the possibilities.
If Arizona QB Noah Fifita Enters the Transfer Portal
Hearing that Noah Fafita and Tetairoa McMillan are staying at @ArizonaFBall. WR coach Kevin Cummings would be key to that effort.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) January 16, 2024
All indications are that it is unlikely that Fifita is going to move up to Seattle. He and star wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan were high school teammates and are likely a package deal. Despite WR coach Kevin Cummings joining Fisch in Seattle (physically) today, he has strong ties to new Arizona head coach Brett Brennan as he coached under him for several years. If Brennan gives him the OC job he likely stays and it likely keeps both T-Mac and Fifita in Tucson.
If there’s any chance that Fifita enters the portal then he would be the best long-term option. Fifita looked one of the better freshman quarterbacks in the country once in the lineup after Jayden de Laura sprained his ankle. He finished last season with 25 TDs and 6 INTs while throwing for 8.6 YPA as an undersized RS frosh. He has 3 years of eligibility remaining and the lack of height means he’s unlikely to be a 1st round draft pick even if he’s an exceptional college quarterback.
It’s looking more like a pipe dream, but Fisch and the rest of the new staff will certainly continue to try to kick the tires on making it happen until Fifita firmly says no.
Get Will Rogers to Stay
The second the transfer portal opened in December there was buzz connecting Washington to Mississippi State transfer Will Rogers. That buzz was justified as he committed to the Huskies not too long after. The second leading passer in SEC history played in the Air Raid under Mike Leach for most of his college career and it remains to be seen how well he would translate to the offense that Jedd Fisch runs.
However, there aren’t a lot of power conference spots that haven’t already come up with a Plan A at the quarterback spot yet. Washington, assuming no Fifita, will probably be the best program where Rogers would be close to guaranteed a starting spot. Rogers was the #7 quarterback in the portal in my transfer rankings and is the top uncommitted QB currently available.
Get Austin Mack to Stay
It seemed clear that there was a succession plan at quarterback when Kalen DeBoer was in charge. Rogers was going to be the starter this year and Mack was the long-term option beginning in 2025. Mack was a high four-star recruit signing with UW and enrolled early so that this past season should have been his senior year of high school. He has not publicly talked about offers but it seems reasonable to think that if the previous staff viewed Mack that highly then they want him to join them in Tuscaloosa.
As noted for Rogers, if Mack wants to start sooner than later he’s definitely better off staying with Washington. Alabama returns Jalen Milroe who will get assuredly get Heisman buzz and be one of the stars of the sport. They also return his backup Ty Simpson who was a five-star prospect and the #4 QB in the class of 2022. Alabama will also be enrolling five-star freshman Julian Sayin who was the #1 QB in the class of 2024 and a top-five player overall. Mack has more familiarity with the system but it’s more likely than not that he never ascends beyond #2 on the depth chart for the Tide should he choose to go there.
It’s worth noting that Fisch’s success in Tucson was entirely with sub-6’0 quarterbacks and Mack is 6’6 so it’s reasonable for Mack to wonder how well he’d fit into what Fisch does.
Bring in Another Transfer without UW/Zona Ties
The pickings are a little bit slim at this point as the game of musical chairs has mostly calmed down. One possibility where the carousel might be turning is in Miami where former Wazzu QB Cam Ward recently decided to reverse his decision to declare for the draft and head to The U instead. That leaves Albany transfer QB Reese Poffenbarger in a bit of a lurch since he had recently committed there once Ward said he was going pro. Poffenbarger is a similar size to de Laura/Fifita and was the leading passer in FCS last year. Through 2 seasons as a starter he has 60 passing TDs and 17 INTs with 7.8 YPA and also has run for another nearly 800 yards and 7 TDs. He is my system’s #23 QB in the portal.
The pickings are otherwise pretty slim. My system’s top ranked uncommitted QB is now Texas State’s TJ Finley who entered earlier today. This will already be Finley’s 4th stop in 5 years after he started his career at LSU then went to Auburn before finally starting a full season at Texas State. The big boy QB (6’7, 255 lbs) threw for 3,440 yards with 24 TDs and 8 INTs on 8.3 YPA this season. He also can be effective in the QB sneak game at his size with 5 rushing TDs.
The most appealing option is likely New Mexico State transfer Diego Pavia who entered the portal after their HC Jerry Kill retired. He just led the Aggies to the best season in school history throwing for just shy of 3,000 yards with 26 TDs and 9 INTs on 8.1 YPA and rushing for over 500 yards and 6 TDs.
Bring in Brayden Dorman
This seems one of the more likely scenarios if only for depth. Dorman was a member of the 2023 recruiting class and ranked as a four-star prospect in the 247 Sports composite and the #24 overall QB coming out of HS in Colorado. He spent this past true freshman season as the 3rd string quarterback behind de Laura and Fifita but never appeared in a game. I would expect there’s a good chance that Dorman is willing to follow position coach Jimmy Dougherty and Fisch to Seattle depending on how many of the above options actually occur. Unlikely many of those though, it seems unwise to simply pencil in Dorman as the starter given his combination of pedigree and inexperience.
Pull Off a Flip and Go With the Frosh
Arizona signed local Chandler, AZ four-star quarterback Demond Williams in this class after flipping him from Ole Miss. He’s a Kyler Murray type listed at 5’9 and 174 pounds but is the #16 QB in the class per the 247 Sports composite and ran an 11 second 100-meter in high school. He would have to request out of his letter of intent in order to potentially flip to Washington but most schools understand there’s no point in fighting it since they could just enter the portal as soon as they get to campus anyways.
We’ll see how Dermaricus Davis handles the coaching transition and Washington has to add at least a couple of players for the spring but bringing in a pair of four-star freshmen and seeing which one wins out in the fall isn’t the worst strategy if either is up for it. Williams being an in-state recruit makes it less likely he’d flip but the potential of Fifita blocking him for the next 3 years should he stay might make it a little more likely.