Shane Buechele, Brandon Peters Among Less-Publicized Quarterback Transfers Performing With New Teams

North Texas v SMU

Shane Buechele transferred from Texas to SMU where he is running coach Sonny Dykes' offense. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Many of the college football headlines generated the past off-season dealt with a great number of players that were changing schools.

Understandably, quarterbacks such as Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields and Kelly Bryant received most of the attention. Because of the level of attention paid to bigger-name signal callers, there were a number of quarterbacks whose transfers flew under the radar by comparison.

Here is a look at some of those quarterbacks, a group that includes SMU’s Shane Buechele and Illinois’ Brandon Peters, both off to nice starts.

Ross Bowers, Northern Illinois (transferred from Cal)

After two seasons as a redshirt and a backup who did not attempt a pass, Bowers was the Golden Bears’ starter in 2017. That was Justin Wilcox’s first season as coach in Berkeley and Bowers threw for 3,039 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. After a handful of possessions in the 2018 opener against BYU, Bowers was not heard from again as Wilcox opted to go with the more mobile Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain to run the offense.

The grad transfer, who has two seasons of eligibility, threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns with one pick in his NIU debut against Illinois State. He threw for 229 yards and 1/1 in the Huskies’ loss at Utah last week. 

Shane Buechele, SMU (Texas)

Buechele’s transfer arguably got the most attention of those on this list. After all, he was the Longhorns’ starter as a freshman in 2016 when he threw for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns during what was coach Charlie Strong’s final season in Austin. Injuries took their toll in 2017, which opened the door for Sam Ehlinger, who won the job in preseason camp a year ago. Buechele threw for 4,636 yards and 30 TDs with the ‘Horns.

Because he played in only two games last season, allowing him to redshirt, Buechele has two seasons of eligibility with the Mustangs as a graduate transfer. So far, so good for Buechele in running coach Sonny Dykes’ offense. He has thrown for 652 yards in a pair of wins and had three touchdown passes against visiting North Texas last week.

Quinten Dormady, Central Michigan (Houston and Tennessee)

A top-10 pro-style recruit in the class of 2015, Dormady beat out Jarrett Guarantano to be the Vols’ starter in 2017. He made five starts with one of them in Gainesville against his current coach, Jim McElwain. Dormady backed up Guarantano in Tennessee’s sixth game before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. In 16 games with Tennessee over three seasons he threw for 1,282 yards and seven touchdowns. 

Dormady transferred to Houston as a grad student and played in only two games last season as a backup to D’Eriq King, which allowed him to retain a final season of eligibility. In his debut with the Chippewas, the 6-foot-4 Texan threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Albany. It was a far different story last Saturday (5-for-12, 36 yards, INT) when Dormady was removed during a 61-0 loss at Wisconsin due to a knee injury

Ben Hicks, Arkansas (SMU)

Hicks reunited with former SMU coach Chad Morris, who is in his second season at the helm in Fayetteville. Hicks, a grad transfer, threw for 9,081 yards and 71 touchdowns in three seasons on the Hilltop. A key target during his time with the Mustangs was current Denver Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton, who caught 144 passes with 22 for touchdowns in his final two seasons at SMU. 

Things have not gone so well for Hicks after beating out Nick Starkel for the starting job in preseason camp. In the season opener versus Portland State, he completed 14-of-29 passes for 143 yards in a 20-13 win. He was 7-for-16 for 98 yards as the Hogs managed all of a field goal in the first half of what would be 31-17 loss at Ole Miss last week. Morris went with Starkel in the second half and announced he will be the starter this week against Colorado State.  

Hunter Johnson, Northwestern (Clemson)

A five-star recruit in the class of 2017 out of Indiana, Johnson had Kelly Bryant and then Trevor Lawrence blocking his path at Clemson. As a freshman in 2017 he participated in seven games and threw for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns before announcing his intention to transfer in the spring of 2018. 

Johnson, who sat out last season and has three years of eligibility, had a rough debut for the Wildcats. Against Stanford he was just 6-of-17 for 55 and two interceptions. Pat Fitzgerald’s team was off last Saturday. 

Austin Kendall West Virginia (Oklahoma)

After some hesitation on behalf of Lincoln Riley and OU in clearing Kendall to transfer, hesitation out of concern for a player transferring on an intra-conference basis and with immediate eligibility, the grad student made his way to Morgantown and ultimately took over the position vacated by Will Grier.

Kendall spent three years at OU, two as an active player leaving him with two seasons of eligibility with the Mountaineers. With the Sooners he appeared in eight games and threw for 265 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. In his WVU debut against James Madison, a 20-13 win, Kendall threw for 260 yards and two TDs. Last week at Missouri, a 46-yard TD pass to George Campbell was the lone highlight on a day in which he threw for 137 yards and a pair of interceptions in a 38-7 loss. Kendall could face his former Oklahoma teammates in Norman on October 19.

Riley Neal, Vanderbilt (Ball State)

The 6-foot-6 Neal totaled nearly 9,000 yards (7,393, 46 TDs passing) in three-plus seasons and 32 starts with Ball State. What would have been his junior season of 2017 was cut short due to injury, allowing to him redshirt and retain a season of eligibility, which he decided would be as a grad transfer at Vandy.

Talk about getting thrown into the SEC fire, Neal completed 14-of-25 for only 85 yards (no TDs or INTs) in an opening-week loss to visiting Georgia. Last Saturday he threw for 378 yards and a pair of TDs and a pick in defeat at Purdue. He needs 144 yards passing for 8,000 in his career and two touchdown passes for 50.

Brandon Peters, Illinois (Michigan)

Like Austin Kendall, Peters transferred within the conference, has two seasons of eligibility and could play against his former team when the Wolverines come to Champaign on October 12. A concussion suffered as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and the arrival of Shea Patterson ultimately led to Peters moving on. In 11 games with Big Blue he threw for 680 yards and four touchdowns and three interceptions.

Coach Lovie Smith hoped Peters would settle what has been a terribly unsettled quarterback situation. After two weeks the 6-foot-5 Peters has answered the bell by throwing seven touchdown passes in wins over Akron and UConn. Last Saturday’s victory at UConn was only the Fighting Illini’s third non-conference road win this century.

Zach Smith, Tulsa (Baylor)

In transferring to Tulsa, Smith reunited with former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery. After sitting out a year, Smith spent much of his debut with the Golden Hurricane attempting to evade the Michigan State pass rush. He was sacked six times and threw for 153 yards with a touchdown and pick in a 28-7 defeat. It was a different story, and a different level of competition, at San Jose State last week when he threw for 283 yards and a TD in Tulsa’s 34-16 win. 

Over the course of two seasons (2016-17) at Baylor, Smith started 10 of the 18 games and threw for 2,997 yards and 21 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. He threw for 463 yards and four touchdowns with no picks in a 49-41 loss to visiting Oklahoma in September 2017. 

Nick Starkel, Arkansas (Texas A&M)

Starkel started five games for Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies in 2017, including a Belk Bowl loss to Wake Forest in which he threw for 499 yards, the second-most in school history. New coach Jimbo Fisher went with Kellen Mond as the starter a year ago and Starkel had only 22 pass attempts in four games.

Starkel left College Station as a grad transfer with two seasons of eligibility and competed with Ben Hicks to be the Razorbacks’ starter. The latter won the job, but was shaky the first two weeks leading coach Chad Morris to call on Starkel for the second half of last week’s loss at Ole Miss. Starkel threw for 201 yards and a touchdown against the Rebels and will get the start this week against visiting Colorado State.

Tommy Stevens Mississippi State (Penn State)

Stevens completed 9-of-10 passes for 105 yards and a TD when he left last Saturday’s win over Southern Miss with what was described as an “upper body” injury, though he may be available this week versus Kansas State. In his debut with the Bulldogs, the Indiana native totaled 273 yards (236 passing) and three TDs in a win over Louisiana. 

After four seasons (one redshirt) in Happy Valley, the 6-foot-5 and 235-pound Stevens joined his former coordinator, Joe Moorhead, in Starkville. With Trace McSorley entrenched as the starting quarterback, Stevens appeared in 20 games as a Nittany Lion and did so in multiple roles, including receiver. In his time at Penn State, Stevens ran for 506 yards, threw for 304 and caught 14 passes for 62 yards. He accounted for 14 touchdowns. 

Darius Wade, Bowling Green (Boston College)

About a week before fall camp the Falcons landed the services of Wade. It was a major development for first-year coach Scot Loeffler, who at one point over the summer had just one scholarship quarterback on his roster. Loeffler was the offensive coordinator at Boston College for three seasons (2016-18), the first two of which Wade was a member of the Eagles.

Wade’s four seasons in Chestnut Hill were interrupted by injuries, limiting him to six starts and 1,091 yards passing with six touchdowns. He returned to his home state last year to play for the Delaware Blue Hens, but a shoulder injury prevented him from taking the field. Now a sixth-year player, Wade threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns and added 42 yards rushing in a win over Morgan State to open the season. In a 52-0 loss at Kansas State last week he completed 8-of-19 passes for 79 yards before being pulled.

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Many of the college football headlines generated the past off-season dealt with a great number of players that were changing schools.

Understandably, quarterbacks such as Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields and Kelly Bryant received most of the attention. Because of the level of attention paid to bigger-name signal callers, there were a number of quarterbacks whose transfers flew under the radar by comparison.

Here is a look at some of those quarterbacks, a group that includes SMU’s Shane Buechele and Illinois’ Brandon Peters, both off to nice starts.

Ross Bowers, Northern Illinois (transferred from Cal)

After two seasons as a redshirt and a backup who did not attempt a pass, Bowers was the Golden Bears’ starter in 2017. That was Justin Wilcox’s first season as coach in Berkeley and Bowers threw for 3,039 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. After a handful of possessions in the 2018 opener against BYU, Bowers was not heard from again as Wilcox opted to go with the more mobile Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain to run the offense.

The grad transfer, who has two seasons of eligibility, threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns with one pick in his NIU debut against Illinois State. He threw for 229 yards and 1/1 in the Huskies’ loss at Utah last week. 

Shane Buechele, SMU (Texas)

Buechele’s transfer arguably got the most attention of those on this list. After all, he was the Longhorns’ starter as a freshman in 2016 when he threw for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns during what was coach Charlie Strong’s final season in Austin. Injuries took their toll in 2017, which opened the door for Sam Ehlinger, who won the job in preseason camp a year ago. Buechele threw for 4,636 yards and 30 TDs with the ‘Horns.

Because he played in only two games last season, allowing him to redshirt, Buechele has two seasons of eligibility with the Mustangs as a graduate transfer. So far, so good for Buechele in running coach Sonny Dykes’ offense. He has thrown for 652 yards in a pair of wins and had three touchdown passes against visiting North Texas last week.

Quinten Dormady, Central Michigan (Houston and Tennessee)

A top-10 pro-style recruit in the class of 2015, Dormady beat out Jarrett Guarantano to be the Vols’ starter in 2017. He made five starts with one of them in Gainesville against his current coach, Jim McElwain. Dormady backed up Guarantano in Tennessee’s sixth game before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. In 16 games with Tennessee over three seasons he threw for 1,282 yards and seven touchdowns. 

Dormady transferred to Houston as a grad student and played in only two games last season as a backup to D’Eriq King, which allowed him to retain a final season of eligibility. In his debut with the Chippewas, the 6-foot-4 Texan threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Albany. It was a far different story last Saturday (5-for-12, 36 yards, INT) when Dormady was removed during a 61-0 loss at Wisconsin due to a knee injury

Ben Hicks, Arkansas (SMU)

Hicks reunited with former SMU coach Chad Morris, who is in his second season at the helm in Fayetteville. Hicks, a grad transfer, threw for 9,081 yards and 71 touchdowns in three seasons on the Hilltop. A key target during his time with the Mustangs was current Denver Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton, who caught 144 passes with 22 for touchdowns in his final two seasons at SMU. 

Things have not gone so well for Hicks after beating out Nick Starkel for the starting job in preseason camp. In the season opener versus Portland State, he completed 14-of-29 passes for 143 yards in a 20-13 win. He was 7-for-16 for 98 yards as the Hogs managed all of a field goal in the first half of what would be 31-17 loss at Ole Miss last week. Morris went with Starkel in the second half and announced he will be the starter this week against Colorado State.  

Hunter Johnson, Northwestern (Clemson)

A five-star recruit in the class of 2017 out of Indiana, Johnson had Kelly Bryant and then Trevor Lawrence blocking his path at Clemson. As a freshman in 2017 he participated in seven games and threw for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns before announcing his intention to transfer in the spring of 2018. 

Johnson, who sat out last season and has three years of eligibility, had a rough debut for the Wildcats. Against Stanford he was just 6-of-17 for 55 and two interceptions. Pat Fitzgerald’s team was off last Saturday. 

Austin Kendall West Virginia (Oklahoma)

After some hesitation on behalf of Lincoln Riley and OU in clearing Kendall to transfer, hesitation out of concern for a player transferring on an intra-conference basis and with immediate eligibility, the grad student made his way to Morgantown and ultimately took over the position vacated by Will Grier.

Kendall spent three years at OU, two as an active player leaving him with two seasons of eligibility with the Mountaineers. With the Sooners he appeared in eight games and threw for 265 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. In his WVU debut against James Madison, a 20-13 win, Kendall threw for 260 yards and two TDs. Last week at Missouri, a 46-yard TD pass to George Campbell was the lone highlight on a day in which he threw for 137 yards and a pair of interceptions in a 38-7 loss. Kendall could face his former Oklahoma teammates in Norman on October 19.

Riley Neal, Vanderbilt (Ball State)

The 6-foot-6 Neal totaled nearly 9,000 yards (7,393, 46 TDs passing) in three-plus seasons and 32 starts with Ball State. What would have been his junior season of 2017 was cut short due to injury, allowing to him redshirt and retain a season of eligibility, which he decided would be as a grad transfer at Vandy.

Talk about getting thrown into the SEC fire, Neal completed 14-of-25 for only 85 yards (no TDs or INTs) in an opening-week loss to visiting Georgia. Last Saturday he threw for 378 yards and a pair of TDs and a pick in defeat at Purdue. He needs 144 yards passing for 8,000 in his career and two touchdown passes for 50.

Brandon Peters, Illinois (Michigan)

Like Austin Kendall, Peters transferred within the conference, has two seasons of eligibility and could play against his former team when the Wolverines come to Champaign on October 12. A concussion suffered as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and the arrival of Shea Patterson ultimately led to Peters moving on. In 11 games with Big Blue he threw for 680 yards and four touchdowns and three interceptions.

Coach Lovie Smith hoped Peters would settle what has been a terribly unsettled quarterback situation. After two weeks the 6-foot-5 Peters has answered the bell by throwing seven touchdown passes in wins over Akron and UConn. Last Saturday’s victory at UConn was only the Fighting Illini’s third non-conference road win this century.

Zach Smith, Tulsa (Baylor)

In transferring to Tulsa, Smith reunited with former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery. After sitting out a year, Smith spent much of his debut with the Golden Hurricane attempting to evade the Michigan State pass rush. He was sacked six times and threw for 153 yards with a touchdown and pick in a 28-7 defeat. It was a different story, and a different level of competition, at San Jose State last week when he threw for 283 yards and a TD in Tulsa’s 34-16 win. 

Over the course of two seasons (2016-17) at Baylor, Smith started 10 of the 18 games and threw for 2,997 yards and 21 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. He threw for 463 yards and four touchdowns with no picks in a 49-41 loss to visiting Oklahoma in September 2017. 

Nick Starkel, Arkansas (Texas A&M)

Starkel started five games for Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies in 2017, including a Belk Bowl loss to Wake Forest in which he threw for 499 yards, the second-most in school history. New coach Jimbo Fisher went with Kellen Mond as the starter a year ago and Starkel had only 22 pass attempts in four games.

Starkel left College Station as a grad transfer with two seasons of eligibility and competed with Ben Hicks to be the Razorbacks’ starter. The latter won the job, but was shaky the first two weeks leading coach Chad Morris to call on Starkel for the second half of last week’s loss at Ole Miss. Starkel threw for 201 yards and a touchdown against the Rebels and will get the start this week against visiting Colorado State.

Tommy Stevens Mississippi State (Penn State)

Stevens completed 9-of-10 passes for 105 yards and a TD when he left last Saturday’s win over Southern Miss with what was described as an “upper body” injury, though he may be available this week versus Kansas State. In his debut with the Bulldogs, the Indiana native totaled 273 yards (236 passing) and three TDs in a win over Louisiana. 

After four seasons (one redshirt) in Happy Valley, the 6-foot-5 and 235-pound Stevens joined his former coordinator, Joe Moorhead, in Starkville. With Trace McSorley entrenched as the starting quarterback, Stevens appeared in 20 games as a Nittany Lion and did so in multiple roles, including receiver. In his time at Penn State, Stevens ran for 506 yards, threw for 304 and caught 14 passes for 62 yards. He accounted for 14 touchdowns. 

Darius Wade, Bowling Green (Boston College)

About a week before fall camp the Falcons landed the services of Wade. It was a major development for first-year coach Scot Loeffler, who at one point over the summer had just one scholarship quarterback on his roster. Loeffler was the offensive coordinator at Boston College for three seasons (2016-18), the first two of which Wade was a member of the Eagles.

Wade’s four seasons in Chestnut Hill were interrupted by injuries, limiting him to six starts and 1,091 yards passing with six touchdowns. He returned to his home state last year to play for the Delaware Blue Hens, but a shoulder injury prevented him from taking the field. Now a sixth-year player, Wade threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns and added 42 yards rushing in a win over Morgan State to open the season. In a 52-0 loss at Kansas State last week he completed 8-of-19 passes for 79 yards before being pulled.

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I have been a sports writer and editor since 1990. In addition to being a contributing writer for forbes.com, I am a writer for globalsportmatters.com and sportstalkflor...