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Georgia could’ve handled Justin Fields better, but 5-star QBs transfer all the time

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Fields will make it 11 of the last 19 five-star QBs to transfer if he ends up leaving Georgia.

Tennessee v Georgia Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Georgia freshman QB Justin Fields is reportedly exploring transfer options after just one season with the Bulldogs. This report came out Tuesday:

They seldom used the former five-star recruit, having him throw just 39 passes despite winning 10 games by three scores or more. Their most famous usage of him was on a fake punt that helped them lose the SEC Championship.

Field’s possible transfer has sparked a ton of chatter on social media and throughout the college football industry about how five-star quarterbacks are transferring at an alarming rate. Based on a cursory look, some of that chatter is absolutely warranted.

In the 2010-15 classes, there were 11 quarterbacks rated five stars on the 247Sports Composite.

The 2015 class is the most recent to have finished its eligibility, for the most part.

Immediately, a sample size caveat is warranted. Eleven quarterbacks is simply not enough of a sample to draw meaningful judgements or conclusions.

But this is not an academic paper or scientific study, so we can make some observations.

And the key observation here is that seven of the 11 five-star QBs transferred before their eligibility was up.

The four quarterbacks in the group who did not transfer are Braxton Miller (Ohio State), Jameis Winston (Florida State), Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), and Josh Rosen (UCLA).

All four were good to great college quarterbacks and combined to win two national championship rings (though Miller was hurt for Ohio State’s title).

There are no real trends for why the seven QBs transferred, however.

  • Phillip Sims left Alabama for a variety of reasons.
  • Jeff Driskel left a Florida program that had failed to develop him at all to play a final year at Louisiana Tech.
  • Gunner Kiel left multiple programs, including LSU and Notre Dame, and coaches questioned his mental toughness and desire to play the game.
  • Max Browne left USC after failing to win the starting job and started some of one year at Pitt.
  • Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray left Texas A&M for a variety of reasons, but many felt the Aggies’ coaching staff badly mismanaged the situation of having two five-star QBs, and the egos associated with that. Allen had a decent year at Houston in 2017, while Murray had an amazing year at Oklahoma in 2018, winning the Heisman Trophy.
  • Blake Barnett never gained traction at Alabama and also failed to win the job at Arizona State before transferring yet again, where he became the starter for USF in 2018.

Transfers in the most recent classes have not slowed down.

  • Both of the 2016 five-star QBs have transferred already: Jacob Eason (Georgia to Washington) and Shea Patterson (Ole Miss to Michigan).
  • Hunter Johnson, one of three 2017 five-stars, transferred from Clemson to Northwestern.
  • And for 2018, the Fields news.

Assuming that 2018’s Trevor Lawrence and JT Daniels and 2017’s Davis Mills and Tua Tagovailoa do not end up transferring, that is still four of eight five-star QBs from 2016-18 transferring. And that’d mean 11 of the 19 five-star QBs since 2010 electing to transfer.

Being a five-star QB is not a guarantee of starting at the program you sign with.

But if a program wants to hold on to its five-star signee, it would probably help to let the player throw more than 39 passes in a season in which the team wins often in blowout fashion.