Football writer Matt Daniels takes a look at signal-callers, including former Illini Jeff George, who went the transfer route.
The big 10
This week’s list: Wes Lunt isn’t eligible to play for Illinois until 2014, but here’s a look at 10 players who have gone the way of the transfer route. With varying results.
1. Cam Newton, Auburn. No matter what you think about the former Florida quarterback’s off-the-field resume, his lone season under Gene Chizik produced 2,854 passing yards, 1,473 rushing yards, 51 total touchdowns, a national title for Auburn and the 2010 Heisman Trophy.
2. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin. Bret Bielema and the Badgers sure thrived in 2011 because of the North Carolina State transfer. In his lone season in Madison, Wilson had 33 touchdowns, four interceptions and 3,175 yards. Oh, and Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl. Again.
3. Colt Brennan, Hawaii. The former Colorado QB threw for 14,193 yards in three seasons under June Jones. That’s an average of 4,731 yards per season. Finished third in the 2007 Heisman voting, a year after he established an FBS record of 58 touchdown passes in 2006. And Hawaii played in the 2008 Sugar Bowl after completing an undefeated regular season.
4. Troy Aikman, UCLA. The future Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer sparked the transfer frenzy when he left Oklahoma for the Bruins after the 1985 season. He had 41 touchdowns and 5,298 passing yards in two seasons at UCLA compared with only four touchdowns and 483 yards in two seasons under the Sooners’ run-heavy offense.
5. Jeff George, Illinois. His accuracy sure improved in Champaign. His freshman season at Purdue produced 15 interceptions to only four touchdowns in 1986. By the time he finished his Illinois career with 321 yards and three touchdowns during a 31-21 victory against Virginia in the 1990 Citrus Bowl, the future No. 1 pick in the NFL had 5,189 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in his two seasons with the Illini.
1. Dayne Crist, Notre Dame. The starter for the Irish in 2010 had thrown for more than 2,000 yards, 15 TDs and completed nearly 60 percent of his passes all before November hit. Then he suffered his second major knee injury in South Bend, lost the starting job, landed at Kansas, had nine interceptions, four TDs, averaged less than 100 passing yards a game, had to watch Notre Dame go undefeated in the regular season and play for a national title. His Jayhawks? They went 1-11.
2. Phillip Sims, Alabama. Highly coveted in the Class of 2010. Now he’s out of college football. The Alabama signee transferred to Virginia from Tuscaloosa after serving as A.J. McCarron’s backup for two seasons. He had a decent 2012 (1,263 yards, nine TDs, four INTs) with the Cavaliers but was kicked off the team after spring ball this year.
3. Tate Forcier, Michigan. Brash signal-caller had some exhilarating moments in two years with the Wolverines. Then he fell off the college football radar. A planned transfer to Miami after the 2010 season didn’t materialize. Neither did one to San Jose State.
4. Joe Dailey, Nebraska. Passing never caught on in Lincoln with Dailey throwing the ball in Bill Callahan’s new system. After two years with the Cornhuskers in 2003 and 2004, where he had more interceptions than touchdowns, he left for North Carolina. By the time his college career ended in 2007, Dailey was at wide receiver, where he made one catch his senior season.
5. Bryan Fortay, Miami. Maybe the college football world never would have heard of 1992 Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta. Fortay was a highly regarded recruit to the U, never panned out, transferred to Rutgers, sued Miami and ended up throwing for 2,374 yards in two forgettable seasons with the Scarlet Knights.
What’s happening outside Champaign-Urbana:
1 The NCAA handed down another set of sanctions against a college football program. This time, Mark Emmert’s bunch had Chip Kelly and his former team at Oregon in its sights. The NCAA’s infractions committee put the Ducks — in light of a questionable $25,000 payment to Willie Lyles and his Houston-based recruiting service, Complete Scouting Services, because Lyles had a connection with an Oregon recruit — on probation for three years and took away three scholarships, but it did not impose a bowl ban. Other recruiting restrictions (decreasing number of official visits and evaluation days in the next three years) were put in place but shouldn’t negatively affect Phil Knight’s alma mater. The NCAA slapped a meaningless 18-month show-cause penalty on Kelly, which doesn’t carry much weight because Kelly is coaching in the NFL now. Violations are a matter the NCAA has to deal with, but these punishments don’t hurt anyone who actually committed them.
2 Less than three weeks (July 17) remain until the release of “NCAA Football 14.” Enough said. The realistic EA Sports venture should tide fans over for a month or so until the season kicks off in late August — even if the sight of cover boy Denard Robinson upsets some supporters of other Big Ten teams.
3 The annual Big Ten media days are set to unfold July 24-25 in Chicago. It’s not the first, and it’s most certainly not the last. The Sun Belt Conference is actually the first league that’s scheduled to hold its media days, on July 15 in New Orleans. The SEC will have three days of media hoopla July 16-18 in Hoover, Ala., followed by the ACC (July 21-22 in Greensboro, N.C.), the Big 12 (July 22-23 in Dallas), the Mountain West Conference (July 22-23 in Las Vegas), Conference USA (July 23-24 in Dallas), the Mid-American Conference (July 23 in Detroit), the Pac-12 (July 26 in Los Angeles) and the newest football conference, the American Athletic Conference (the revamped league formerly known as the Big East) on July 29-30 in Newport, R.I.
3 questions for ... Jimmy Fitzgerald, the Class of 2015 quarterback from Centennial who has an Illinois offer
Aside from Illinois, what other schools are interested in you?
Yale just offered a few weeks ago, so I’ve got offers from Yale and Illinois. I went to camps at both Duke and North Carolina (earlier in June), and I’m going down to Rivals’ Top 250 (Underclassmen) camp July 7 in Dallas. Northwestern has also been in contact, and Stanford and Michigan have seen me throw.
Where’s Illinois stand?
It’s a great school, obviously, academically and athletically. I love (offensive coordinator Bill) Cubit. He knows what he’s talking about, and he’s coached some of the best quarterbacks in the game. I’m not really ready to make a decision yet since it’s still so early. I’m getting a lot of questions about Wes Lunt, though. I’m excited to watch him. He tore it up at Rochester.
How are you handling the recruiting process?
A lot of kids get caught up with it. I just want to try to realize that it’s not all about me. It’s my teammates and my coaches. They’re the reason I’m here. I try to take it in stride, keep a level head and not get too obnoxious. There are probably three main factors I want in a school: academics, athletics and social. I want to have the full package.