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NCAA Transfer Portal: 5 QBs to watch

by Crissy Froyd
Updated On: May 10, 2022, 12:39 am ET

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With roughly four months to go until the start of the 2022 season, a number of college football players are still pursuing a change of scenery after entering the transfer portal last year or at some point during the offseason this year.

Here's a look into five quarterbacks in no particular order to keep watch on as they search for their next landing spot.

1. Grant Gunnell (Arizona/Memphis)

Gunnell is transferring for a third time after dealing with injury setbacks at both Arizona and Memphis. The junior was forced to miss last season with right leg injury he underwent surgery for, opening the door for current sophomore quarterback Seth Henigan to start every game and ultimately be named a Freshman All-American. The competition for the starting position in 2022 was expected to be tight between Henigan and Gunnell, who looked solid in the spring game, showing no signs of being bothered by a previous injury as he threw two touchdown passes.

The former Wildcats starter has completed 66.5% of his passes for 1,864 yards with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions over two seasons and it's easy to get the sense there's a lot more he still hasn't shown due to seasons overshadowed by him not being able to stay fully healthy. Gunnell navigates the pocket well, especially for a quarterback who is 6-foot-6 and 228 pounds, is accurate at all levels of the field with a great amount of arm strength and is money on the deep ball.

Gunnell told me earlier this week he had visited Rice and North Texas so far. It's still too early to say, but this could be an indication that Gunnell wants to move closer to home. Gunnell was a three-star recruit coming out of St. Pius X High School (Houston, TX) where he set the Texas high school records for passing touchdowns (195) and passing yards (16,108). 

2. Peter Costelli (Utah)

Costelli officially entered the transfer portal as a freshman in late November, a decision that has its advantages considering how deep the Utes are at quarterback. Junior signal-caller Cameron Rising has a firm grip on the starting gig, projected to be one of top quarterbacks in the nation in 2022 after leading his team to 10 wins last season. Costelli redshirted in 2021, serving as the fourth-string quarterback behind Rising, Ja'Quinden Jackson and Bryson Barnes. 

The former four-star recruit out of Mission Viejo High School (Mission Viejo, CA) has a long future ahead of him with four years of eligibility left and it will be interesting to see where he ends up utilizing it at. Back in late January, Costello told Tim Thomas of Tech Lunch Pail he had received interest from Arkansas, Northwestern, Nevada and Virginia Tech. 

Costelli brings to the table a still largely unseen level of athleticism at the college level that he showed in high school when he posted a 42.29-second 4x100-meter time that was good for second-fastest in the state. In addition to this, he's a quarterback who has looked solid as a passer while working through some consistency issues, finding success on deep strikes with good precision and more-than-adequate arm strength to get it there.

3. Jack Sears (USC/Boise State)

Sears transferred in from USC to Boise State back in 2020, playing in seven total games for the Broncos after seeing action in just one contest with the Trojans in 2018. Over those eight appearances, Sears completed 45-of-61 passing attempts (73.8%) for 615 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. The former four-star recruit's biggest showing was the lone performance at USC, when he completed 20-of-28 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a close 38-35 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils. 

While at Boise State, Sears competed with Hank Bachmeier for the starting job but was beaten out, hindered by injury issues throughout fall camp and unable to make a push for the job in-season. Sears has one year of eligibility remaining and continues to look for a place where he can consistently show what he's capable of on film.

4. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson (Florida)

With coaching changes typically come some level of movement and the situation at Florida has proven no different in regard to that since Billy Napier took Dan Mullen's spot back in December. Junior passer Emory Jones, who recently landed at Arizona State, was among the quarterbacks to enter the portal. Del Rio-Wilson followed, announcing his intentions transfer in April after he was unable to break into the rotation last year and after athletic sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson put on a standout performance in the spring.

The former four-star prospect still has all four years of eligibility remaining after taking a redshirt in 2021, and has a lot of untapped potential as a player who was Sports Illustrated All-American's fifth highest-graded passer at the 2020 Elite 11 Finals. Del Rio-Wilson attempted just two passes in Florida's spring game this year, and it quickly became evident it would be in his best interest to look for other opportunities as Florida also brought on Ohio State redshirt freshman transfer Jack Miller, who wasted little time grabbing the backup spot to Richardson.

Napier praised Del Rio-Wilson's work ethic, calling him a "first-class" player, but was understanding of his decision.

“I think he just observed spring practice and felt like a change of scenery would be good for him in terms of competing and finding an opportunity to play,” Napier told reporters. “And I can relate to that. I was a quarterback, and you want to play. You want it to be your team at some point. I respect that decision and we’re fully supportive and help him with everything he can do going forward.”

Both parties go their separate ways on mutual terms and Del Rio-Wilson has a chance to thrive in another place.

5. Jack Abraham (Southern Miss/Mississippi State)

Abraham had a very real chance of claiming the starting quarterback position at Mississippi State after he transferred in from Southern Miss ahead of the 2021 season, with his main competition being current junior quarterback Will Rogers. After putting a solid spring in the books, Abraham was derailed by an injury and reportedly spent time recovering from post-concussion syndrome, unable to play the season. He was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA after the summer injury and he is immediately eligible in what will be the seventh and final season of his college career.

It's been a long and winding road for Abraham, who redshirted at Louisiana Tech before transferring to Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he threw for 2,949 yards with 23 touchdowns in 2017. From there he went on to Southern Mississippi, completing 69.3% of his passes for 7,067 yards with 41 touchdowns and 29 interceptions over three seasons with the Golden Eagles -- impressive numbers that could have been even higher if it weren't for the injury issues that hampered him during the 2020 season.

Crissy Froyd

Crissy Froyd is an LSU graduate specializing in quarterback analysis and covering Mississippi State for Sports Illustrated. You can find her on Twitter @crissy_froyd