OK, let’s review the NCAA open portal policy on quarterbacks in the SEC West.
LSU starter Max Johnson transferred to Texas A&M. Auburn starter Bo Nix transferred to Oregon. Texas A&M backup Zach Calzada, who became the starter only after starter Haynes King was injured early in the season, transferred to Auburn to battle with another backup, TJ Finley, who transferred from LSU last spring.
LSU backup Myles Brennan entered the transfer portal last season, only to return to LSU after Johnson left. The next transfer could be USC’s Jaxson Dart to Ole Miss.
Here is an early look at the quarterback situations in the SEC West.
The Crimson Tide returns perhaps the best quarterback in the nation, Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who will be a junior after throwing for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns for second in the nation in both categories. Arguably, he would also be a reigning national champion if either of his top receivers had been available in the second half against Georgia Monday night. But John Metchie III was lost for the season with a knee injury in Alabama’s win over Georgia in the SEC title game, and Jameson Williams left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury.
Ty Simpson, the No. 3 pro style quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com, is an early enrollee signee for the Tide who will likely back up Young next season. Sophomore Paul Tyson, a great grandson of Bear Bryant, entered the transfer portal this week.
K.J. Jefferson will return as a junior following a spectacular season in which he finished 10th in the nation in efficiency at 164.7 on 198-of-294 passing for 2,676 yards and 21 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He also was the Razorbacks’ leading rusher with 664 yards on 146 carries and six touchdowns. Arkansas has decent depth, but nobody like Jefferson.
Many Auburn fans got their wish with the inconsistent Nix leaving, but they should remember to be careful about wishes. Both Finley and Calzada may be best as backups and are clearly not the runner or scrambler that Nix is. Calzada did show signs of being a decent starter at Texas A&M last season and will likely beat out Finley, but he is not the answer.
The Tigers appear to be in the same boat as the other Tigers in the West. They might not immediately have a quarterback better than the one who just transferred. Johnson would have had a much better chance at starting at LSU than he will at Texas A&M.
Sophomore Garrett Nussmeier was erratic in brief appearances last season as a true freshman, but the No. 7 pro style quarterback in the nation in 2021 out of Flower Mound, Texas could be the guy by August.
Walker Howard is an early enrollee and the only five-star prospect in LSU’s lowly ranked class of 2022 at No. 28 by Rivals.com. But Howard, who is the No. 2 pro style quarterback in the nation, is coming off breaking his left leg for the second time last season. He is a January enrollee, and he has no established quarterback to beat out, so he could be a rare three- or four-year starter at LSU.
New coach Brian Kelly was able to convince senior Myles Brennan to return from the transfer portal, but it didn’t take a lot of convincing. Brennan was not drawing a lot of attention in the portal. Except for three starts in 2020 before an abdomen injury ended his season, Brennan was a career backup beginning in 2017. Johnson was expected to beat him out last year before Brennan broke his left, non-throwing arm just before August practices when he slipped boarding a boat to go fishing. If Brennan ends up starting, it means the rankings on Nussmeier and Howard were too high.
Will Rogers will be back for his junior year after a memorable 2021 season in which he rewrote the State record books and finished third in the nation in passing yards with 4,739 yards and tossed 36 touchdowns.
Luke Altmyer figures to be the starter after backing up Matt Corral as a freshman last season. He has shown promise with some inconsistency, but coach Lane Kiffin is among the very best at molding quarterbacks as a bit of a young Sean Payton.
The Rebels are also in the transfer portal sweepstakes for USC quarterback Jaxson Dart.
Haynes King, a freshman last season, beat out Calzada for the starting job last season, and it was not that close. Then King was lost for the season in Game Two with a broken leg. He would have likely beaten out Calzada again for the 2022 starting job, which is why Calzada left.
Coach Jimbo Fisher’s No. 1 recruiting class includes Conner Weigman, the No. 1 dual threat quarterback in the nation from Bridgeland High in Cypress, Texas. He is an early enrollee and could make noise in the quarterback race, which makes one wonder what Johnson was thinking when he transferred from LSU.