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Will Blake Barnett flourish at USF? History offers no definite sign

Some graduate-transfer QBs have flourished, while others have flopped
Florida Gators quarterback Malik Zaire (8) gets sacked during the fourth quarter of the game against the Georgia Bulldogs. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
Florida Gators quarterback Malik Zaire (8) gets sacked during the fourth quarter of the game against the Georgia Bulldogs. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published May 10, 2018

Naturally, the reports of former Alabama/Arizona State QB Blake Barnett moving on to USF might prompt Bulls fans to ponder the success rate of prominent graduate-transfer quarterbacks.

Well, our homework has shown history provides nary a clue as to how Barnett might perform in green and gold. Fact is, grad transfers have performed with wildly varying degrees of success at football's most scrutinized position.

Check out some who have flourished, and others who have flopped.

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin (from N.C. State), 2011

The gold standard of grad-transfer quarterbacks. After three mostly solid seasons at N.C. State, where he set an NCAA record for consecutive passes (379) without a pick, Wilson moved on to Wisconsin and became a Badgers folk hero in one season. He threw for 3,175 yards, 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions, leading Wisconsin to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth.

Jake Coker, Alabama (from FSU), 2014
After serving as Jameis Winston's backup as a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Coker moved to 'Bama, backed up Blake Sims for a year, then won the starting job in 2015. That season, he threw for 3,110 yards and 21 TDs (against only eight INTs), leading the Crimson Tide to the national title.

Everett Golson, FSU (from Notre Dame), 2015
Golson did exactly what was expected of him, serving as a dependable caretaker while Dalvin Cook carried the load (1,691 rushing yards) in Year One of the post-Jameis era. Golson won his first six starts including a sparkling effort against Miami (25-for-33, 291 yards) until sustaining a concussion against Georgia Tech that kind of derailed things. Still, he finished with 1,778 passing yards and only three interceptions, completing more than 67 percent of his passes.

Clint Trickett, West Virginia (from FSU), 2013
After two steady seasons as a 'Noles backup (947 passing yards, seven TDs, four INTs), Trickett moved on when it became apparent he wouldn't beat out Winston for the starting job. He started 18 games in two seasons with the Mountaineers, totaling nearly 5,000 passing yards, but announced his retirement in December 2014 following a series of concussions.

Vernon Adams, Oregon (from Eastern Washington), 2015
After a dazzling career at Division I-AA Eastern Washington, where he twice was runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, Adams transferred to Oregon and won seven of 10 starts. In his lone season in Eugene, he threw for 2,643 yards and 26 TDs, and was named Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year.

Tyler Murphy, Boston College (from Florida), 2014

The highlight of Murphy's nondescript UF career came in 2013, when he replaced injured starter Jeff Driskel and led the Gators to three consecutive wins (vs. Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas) before himself going down with a shoulder injury. He joined former Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio at BC the following year, led the Eagles to a bowl game and set an ACC record for rushing yards by a QB (1,184).

Malik Zaire, Florida (from Notre Dame), 2017

The former Fighting Irish starter, projected by some to stake his claim to the Gators' starting job, instead became a footnote in a forgettable season. Zaire's only two starts were losses to Missouri and South Carolina. He finished with 349 passing yards and no TD passes in four games.

Jake Heaps, Miami (from Kansas), 2014
After a dazzling debut season at BYU, where he eclipsed Ty Detmer's freshman record for TD passes (15), Heaps had a woeful sophomore slump and transferred to Kansas. He never broke through with the Jayhawks, transferred to Miami for his final season, and was beaten out by freshman Brad Kaaya for the starting job.

Richard Kovalcheck, Vanderbilt (from Arizona), 2006
A pioneer of the grad-transfer movement, Kovalcheck went 3-8 as a starter at Arizona before arriving in Nashville. In two years at Vandy (both losing seasons), he completed a grand total of 40 passes.

Austin Appleby, Florida (from Purdue), 2016
It's probably unfair to label Appleby a bust, but he certainly was no breakthrough guy either. After compiling a 2-9 record as a starter in four seasons at Purdue, Appleby arrived in Gainesville and lost a competition with Luke Del Rio for the starting job. When Del Rio was sidelined by shoulder and knee injuries, Appleby compiled a 4-3 record in seven games as a starter. His shining moment: game-managing a 16-10 win at LSU that clinched the SEC East for the Gators.


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