Recent JUCO pro-style quarterbacks have struggled to make immediate impact
Recent history would suggest that the odds are stacked against transfer quarterback Thomas MacVittie, who signed his national letter of intent to the University of Kansas this month — well, at least on his chances to make an immediate impact.
According to 247Sports Composite, MacVittie is the No. 3-ranked pro-style quarterback for the Class of 2019 among junior college signal callers. As a result, I looked up the top-five junior college pro-style quarterbacks in each of the previous five years via 247Sports Composite to see how every signal caller did in their respective transfer season.
Admittedly, this is an arbitrary cutoff to only look at the top-five quarterback for each season and to only include the pro-style quarterbacks. Given that this is the group that MacVittie falls into, though, it could be a good indicator of what to expect from someone of his caliber during his transfer season.
It would make sense that it takes time for a transfer to transition to a new team, particularly at a position like quarterback. In four of the last five season, at least two of the top-five pro-style quarterbacks did not play a snap in their first season.
Several different circumstances can impact this, of course. Perhaps a team already has a starting quarterback in place, such as Missouri with Drew Lock this past season. So Lindsey Scott, the No. 1 junior college pro-style quarterback in 2018, did not play last year for the Tigers.
In fact, only three of the five top junior college quarterbacks played a snap this past fall. Ricky Town, who was ranked No. 2, played in three game for Pitt and completed his only pass attempt for 15 yards. Last week, it was announced that Town was leaving the program.
Jack Abraham transferred to Southern Miss and played nine games, completing 223-of-305 passes for 2,347 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Max Gilliam also played in nine games for UNLV, finishing 124-of-226 for 1,394 yards, to go along with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
In 2017, just two of the five quarterbacks even threw a pass in their first season at their next stop.
Blake Barnett, who was the top pro-style junior college quarterback that year, appeared in two games for Arizona State and went 3-of-5 for 40 yards. Oregon State’s Jake Luton, who was ranked No. 3, made four appearances and went 83-for-135 for 853 yards. Barnett ultimately went to South Florida, while Luton played in eight games for the Beavers in 2018.
De’Andre Johnson, meanwhile, was used as a runner in his two season with FAU after transferring from East Mississippi Community College. It is also worth noting that KU’s Peyton Bender was ranked No. 6 in this particular group.
The 2016 season, however, was the outlier over the past five years. All five quarterbacks played in double-digit games, including three signal callers who played in all 13 games of their respective debuts.
Riley Ferguson (Memphis), Troy Williams (Utah), Richard Lagow (Indiana), Andrew Ford (UMass) and Jacob Park (Iowa State) all threw for at least 1,791 yards. Ferguson and Lagow each amassed 3,000 yards in their first campaign, and were the only quarterbacks to play in double-digit contests the following season, as well.
Only three of the five quarterbacks played during the first year in 2015, in which Austin Apodaca produced the best stat line. Apodca, who was ranked No. 4 that year, accumulated 702 yards on 108 attempts in 10 games. No other quarterback threw for more than 315 yards.
The 2014 class had just one player take a snap under center. Nick Arbuckle made 12 starts in his first year with Georgia State, while going 259-for-429 for 3,293 yards and 23 scores.
In total, only seven of the 25 quarterbacks played in double-digit games in their first season. Just eight of them threw for over 1,000 yards in their debut with a new program.
It remains to be seen how MacVittie will do with the Jayhawks. This past season at Mesa Community College, MacVittie completed 92-of-172 passes for 1,064 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions in six games. He also rushed for 252 yards and four touchdowns.
Based on the recent track record of junior college quarterbacks, though, KU fans should temper their expectations for an immediate impact.