College News & Analysis

Five best college football quarterbacks in the transfer portal

Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) throws during the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

• The five best quarterbacks in the transfer portal: Here’s who PFF views as the five best signal-callers in a crowded class of transfers.

N.C. State quarterback Devin Leary: The redshirt junior is currently the biggest prize in the portal after his performance last season.

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei: After a bounce-back junior season, Uiagalelei comes in at No. 2 with one of the highest ceilings among all quarterbacks in college football

Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins

With more than 1,000 college football players in the transfer portal, it can be difficult to parse through all the talent. But PFF's advanced stats for 354 teams ranging from the FBS to Division III aim to do exactly that.

After going over our top 25 players in the transfer portal as well as our All-Transfer Portal team, here are the five best quarterbacks who are searching for new homes.

1. Devin Leary (N.C. State Wolfpack)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

Leary established himself as one of the nation’s best signal-callers in 2021. His 31 big-time throws were tied for the seventh most in the FBS. The 2022 campaign was a different story.

The redshirt junior earned only a 64.8 passing grade before a torn pectoral muscle ended his season after six games. Still, Leary’s performance in 2021 currently makes him the biggest prize in the transfer portal.

2. DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson Tigers)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

Despite being benched multiple times this year, Uiagalelei showed improvement from last season. The former five-star recruit posted a 79.6 grade in 2022 after a 66.3 mark last year. 

The junior has the arm to make any throw asked of him; the issue has been inaccuracy, which stems from his footwork. Since 2021, his 23.8% uncatchable pass rate ranks 107th out of 134 FBS quarterbacks. If Uiagalelei can keep improving in that regard, he has a limitless ceiling. 

As for his next stop, keep an eye on Oregon. The Ducks could lose starter Bo Nix, and Matayo Uiagalelei, a five-star edge defender and DJ’s younger brother, listed Oregon in his top three. The other two schools in his top three, USC and Ohio State, likely won’t be in the market for a quarterback this offseason. A return home to the West seems to be in the cards for DJ, who hails from California.

3. Chance Nolan (Oregon State Beavers)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

Chance Nolan’s 85.5 passing grade since last season is tied for ninth among active Power Five quarterbacks.

While Nolan threw 18 interceptions in that span, he made only 16 turnover-worthy plays, showing that he’s had some bad turnover luck. The redshirt junior played in just five games this year before suffering a season-ending neck strain. What he showed on tape last season warrants a spot in this top five, though.

4. Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina Chanticleers)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

McCall has been one of the nation’s best quarterbacks over the past three seasons. His 94.0 passing grade since 2020 leads all active quarterbacks.

The biggest question will be how McCall plays outside of Coastal Carolina’s unique triple-option scheme. However, as PFF’s Jason DeLoach points out, McCall does just fine on true dropbacks:

5. Brennan Armstrong (Virginia Cavaliers)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

Among FBS quarterbacks, Armstrong’s 91.8 grade last season trailed only Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Kenny Pickett. All three were Heisman finalists. Armstrong racked up the fifth-most big-time throws in college football that season (35).

His 2022 season was more of a disappointment, with his 58.4 grade placing among the 20 worst out of 146 quarterbacks in the country. The senior had only 14 big-time throws compared to 19 turnover-worthy plays. A major reason for the sudden dropoff in play could be the departure of offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who left Virginia to become Syracuse’s play caller this year. Anae is now N.C. State’s offensive coordinator, and the Wolfpack are losing the aforementioned Devin Leary to the portal. A reunion in Raleigh, North Carolina, could be in store for Armstrong and Anae.

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