Transfer quarterbacks dominate the landscape of college football. In this week's QB Power Rankings, five of our top 10 QBs have transferred during their career. If Caleb Williams and Bo Nix hadn't lost last week (maybe you haven't noticed, but losers take a walk around here), the number would be higher. In this day and age, transfer signal-callers win games, conferences, Heisman Trophies and, occasionally, national titles.
Despite being heavy on starting experience, however, the transfer QB class of 2023 has been mostly uninspiring. Notre Dame's Sam Hartman hasn't been incredible (he's cooled off after a hot start), but he has been an upgrade for the Fighting Irish. I don't think Deion Sanders regrets bringing Shedeur Sanders with him to Colorado, but there have been a lot more disappointments.
There's one transfer out there nobody expected much from that has done pretty well, though. Someone I certainly didn't have high expectations for after following him for the last few years.
In a transfer class that probably has quite a few coaches and fanbases wishing their teams had kept the receipt, Graham Mertz has been surprisingly solid for the Florida Gators. His numbers haven't been spectacular, but he ranks among the top Power Five transfer QBs in the 2023 class in nearly every category. He's certainly performing better as a passer than the QB who replaced him at Wisconsin.
|Yards Per Attempt
Last week, Mertz found himself outdueling another former transfer, Spencer Rattler, as the Gators beat the Gamecocks 41-39 thanks to Mertz's 423 yards and three touchdowns. The last two scoring tosses came in the final five minutes to erase a 10-point deficit. The performance helped Mertz earn a spot in this week's ranking.
Michael Penix Jr. Washington Huskies QB
|There wasn't much doubt who would be No. 1 last week after Penix led No. 5 Washington to a huge win over No. 9 Oregon. Penix would've been here even if Williams hadn't had the worst game of his career and lost to No. 15 Notre Dame. Penix didn't have his best game against the Ducks but still threw for 302 yards (a season low) and four touchdowns. His 8.2 yards per attempt were the lowest he's had in any game, though, and it's the second straight week he's finished under 10. He also completed only 59.5% of his passes, which is the first time he's finished lower than 70% all season. Still, he made all the throws that counted the most, which also counts the most here. (Last Week: 3)
Jayden Daniels LSU Tigers QB
|It's a shame that the two LSU games most casual fans have seen this year were its two losses because Jayden Daniels is having a phenomenal season. He threw for another 325 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Auburn, and is now up to 2,294 yards passing and 515 yards rushing this season. If Daniels keeps performing like this and the No. 19 Tigers pull off an upset over No. 11 Alabama in two weeks, you'll hear his name come up a lot more often in the Heisman conversation. (5)
J.J. McCarthy Michigan Wolverines QB
|McCarthy has been a reflection of his team this season -- pure, ruthless efficiency. McCarthy was 14 of 17 for 222 yards and three touchdowns in another Michigan decimation, this one of Indiana. He doesn't have the eye-popping stats but is second in the nation behind Daniels in passing efficiency and is a better player than the McCarthy who won a Big Ten title and reached the College Football Playoff last season. (6)
Dillon Gabriel Oklahoma Sooners QB
|Gabriel spent the last week wearing a golden cowboy hat around Norman, Oklahoma. Having the week off is why he fell, but the hat part is why he only fell to fourth. Considering the rest of No. 6 Oklahoma's schedule, Gabriel should be a mainstay around the top five for the rest of the season. (1)
Drake Maye North Carolina Tar Heels QB
|Maye's performance in No. 10 North Carolina's 41-31 win over Miami was uneven. He threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns but completed only 17 of his 33 passes for 7.9 yards per attempt. That's how it's been with Maye most of the season, and it can be frustrating. He's a superstar at his best, but I'd love to see more consistency. He's the type of talent who should be in the top three most weeks. (7)
Noah Fifita Arizona Wildcats QB
|Arizona coach Jedd Fisch won't come out and name Noah Fifita the starter for the Wildcats, but he should. Arizona has been a much better team since Fifita took over the starting role for an injured Jayden de Laura. The diminutive Fifita doesn't match de Laura's YOLO energy, but that's not always a bad thing. When you have a defense as good as Arizona's, there's nothing wrong with a QB who can make plays while also not giving the ball away constantly. (Not Ranked)
Graham Mertz Florida Gators QB
|Mertz's performance against South Carolina was his best as a member of the Gators, and it's important that I rewarded him for it this week because his team is on a bye and their next game is against No. 1 Georgia. If he plays the same way against the Dawgs, he might jump to No. 1. The odds of that happening, however ... (NR)
Jordan Travis Florida State Seminoles QB
|I'm just going to say it: We need more from you, Jordan. I've kept you here every week because you're one of my favorite players to watch, but the performances haven't been all that incredible lately. They haven't been poor, either, but let's see what you can do against that Duke defense coming to town this weekend. (9)
Kyle McCord Ohio State Buckeyes QB
|There are times when the offense for No. 3 Ohio State seems like it's just "throw the ball to Marvin Harrison and see what happens," and while it's not the ideal approach, it's worked pretty well regardless. It's certainly working for McCord, who threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns in an easy 41-7 win over Purdue. McCord faces a much more difficult test this week at No. 7 Penn State. (NR)
Donovan Smith Houston Cougars QB
|Smith did not get off to a great start against West Virginia. He completed only 5 of his first 11 passes before ultimately catching fire. He completed his final 16 attempts, including a 49-yard Hail Mary on the game's final snap to give Houston a 41-39 win. It was a massive win -- the first Big 12 victory in program history -- for Smith, the Coogs and Dana Holgorsen. (NR)
Honorable Mention: Carson Beck, Georgia; Brady Cook, Missouri; Ashton Daniels, Stanford; Josh Hoover, TCU; DJ Uiagalelei, Oregon State