Thomas Sirk joined the Duke program in the spring of 2012, when David Cutcliffe’s program was just about to experience some major breakthroughs. The Blue Devils went to four bowl games in four years from 2012-15, finally snapping a 54-year bowl win drought behind Sirk’s MVP effort in the Pinstripe Bowl. On Wednesday, Duke wished him well in his decision to transfer to another school for his sixth and final year of eligibility.
“First and foremost, we are 100 percent supportive of Thomas and his decision to complete his eligibility at another school,” Cutcliffe said. “I’ve said it many times before: Thomas is an incredible young man. He’s conscientious, dedicated and what I would consider the ultimate teammate due to his selflessness and leadership qualities. Thomas loves Duke. He and I have had great discussion regarding this decision, and his love for this university and everything it represents is what made this decision so difficult for him.
Sirk won’t be permitted to transfer to any ACC school or upcoming Duke opponent -- Army West Point, Baylor, N.C. Central and Northwestern all off-limits -- but will be allowed to play immediately in 2017 wherever he lands.
Sirk suffered major Achilles tendon injuries in 2013 and 2016, but was one of the best dual-threat offensive weapons in the ACC in 2015. Finally promoted to the starting job, Sirk’s total offense numbers put him behind only Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and North Carolina’s Marquise Williams for No. 3 in the conference at the end of the season. Then, in the bowl game, Sirk and running back Shaun Wilson shared MVP honors in the 44-41 win.
The NCAA awarded Sirk an extra year of eligiblity after his fifth year, 2016, was derailed by another injury. When Duke opened spring practice earlier this month, Sirk was not cleared for contact and Daniel Jones remained the No. 1 quarterback in Durham. Jones, set to be a sophomore in 2017, improved with experience last season and will be one of the only returning starters in the Coastal Division.
Since National Signing Day is behind us and spring practice has already started, Sirk becomes an interesting prospect to watch on the transfer market. There are a lot of teams that could use his dual-threat skill set at the quarterback position, but he is not the only prominent QB currently uncommitted.
Zaire was Notre Dame’s starter at the beginning of 2015 but was replaced by DeShone Kizer for good when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the second game of the season. That was the beginning of two seasons where Kizer was QB1, a spot many expected Zaire to have after his start and MVP performance in the 2014 Music City Bowl against LSU.
Zaire delayed his transfer decision in late December, electing not to make a move in time for spring practice. Wisconsin and North Carolina are reportedly in the mix, and Florida could be as well if Zaire can get cleared through the SEC’s transfer rules.
Something to watch with Zaire’s commitment: since he missed all but two games of the 2015 season, it’s possible he could receive an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA. He’ll be able to play immediately in 2017 as a graduate transfer, but could extend his stay to 2018 with an appeal.
Harris is taking an 18-hour course load this semester and is on track to graduate from LSU this spring, making him eligible immediately as a graduate transfer. Like Zaire, Harris was a top prospect coming out of high school that is looking to get on the field immediately after ending 2016 as a backup.
There are “a couple” of SEC schools in contact with Harris, though he hasn’t decided to name any schools yet, and there’s a handful of other schools -- North Carolina, included -- that could use 15 games of starting experience in the position room.
“I talked to a couple of schools in the SEC about different opportunities,” Harris said on ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge. “These are either bridge situations where you’re going in because they don’t have quarterbacks ready to play or lost a senior and got two freshmen not ready to play, or a situation where they don’t feel like they have a quarterback on the roster.”