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Senior Bowl journal: Transferring led these four QBs to success

Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White (14) throws a pass against Marshall during Western Kentucky's 60-6 win in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Huntington, W.Va. (Austin Anthony/Daily News via AP) KYBOW111
Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White (14) throws a pass against Marshall during Western Kentucky's 60-6 win in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Huntington, W.Va. (Austin Anthony/Daily News via AP) KYBOW111
Published Jan. 26, 2018

MOBILE, Ala. — It's not where you start. It's where you finish.

That's the story at the Senior Bowl, where four of the eight quarterbacks in Saturday's game found their best college success only after transferring from their original college choice. Moving on to a new school isn't easy, and for more reasons than just the year a player usually must sit out, but in many cases, it's for the best.

"If we had to do it all over again, I'd do the same thing," said Mike White, who spent two years at USF before transferring to Western Kentucky in 2015. "At USF, I never got that true redshirt year, never got that time to sit behind a successful quarterback and learn from him. I think that was the best thing to happen to me, though, getting thrown into the fire and making those mistakes and learning from them."

Video: Wyoming's Josh Allen with touchdown throw to @BroncoSportsFB WR Cedrick Wilson at @seniorbowl practice. pic.twitter.com/OEIsvV0ZbV

White was a prolific passer at Western Kentucky, topping 4,000 yards in each of his two seasons and throwing a combined 63 touchdown passes. USF had its own success with Quinton Flowers at quarterback, so the move worked well for both.

With White on the South team is Virginia QB Kurt Benkert, who started his career at East Carolina but transferred after three seasons. Benkert threw only 10 passes for the Pirates but was a solid starter both years with Virginia, throwing 25 touchdown passes this past season.

Video: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield throws to @CycloneFB WR Allen Lazard at @seniorbowl practice. pic.twitter.com/Kn9euX9OKS

"I just took a leap of faith and then was able to hit the ground running when I got to Virginia," said Benkert, who nearly chose USF coming out of Cape Coral in 2012. "I got to know the people, the offense, the town, everything that Virginia had to offer. It helped me with the transition."

Even last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, didn't open his college career at Oklahoma. He started as a walk-on at Texas Tech and transferred after one season. Nebraska's Tanner Lee, with Mayfield a quarterback for the North squad, began his career with two years as starter at Tulane before transferring to Nebraska and throwing for 23 touchdowns this past season.

Video: Big Ten connection as @Huskers QB Tanner Lee rolls out and throws to @PennStateFball WR DaeSean Hamilton at @seniorbowl practice. pic.twitter.com/463ftgrkZu

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This and that

Oklahoma Heisman Trophy-winning QB Baker Mayfield, whose draft stock can't go much higher from playing Saturday, remained noncommittal Thursday that he would play in the game. "We'll see," he said. … Florida State S Nate Andrews, who played on the Seminoles' 2013 national championship team and is from across Mobile Bay in Fairhope, Ala., joined the South squad as an injury replacement, getting his first work in Thursday's afternoon practice.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.