The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Football: Who is the future at QB?

With the transfer portal announcements of Ken Seals and AJ Swann, Vanderbilt needs to address the quarterback position utilizing the transfer portal.
Barrie Barto
Vanderbilt lining up on offense on Nov. 25, 2023 against Tennessee. (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto)

In the past few days, Vanderbilt lost two quarterbacks to the transfer portal. Firstly, Ken Seals put himself in as a graduate transfer. Then, a day later, sophomore AJ Swann also announced his plan to enter the transfer portal, which officially opens for undergraduates on Dec. 4. With that, Vanderbilt has found itself with a massive hole at quarterback, with the only other player who has seen playing time at that position being Walter Taylor. Vanderilt dealt with a carousel at the position all season with Seals, Swann and Taylor all seeing action, the culmination of the offensive struggles playing into the recent firing of offensive coordinator Joey Lynch. Regardless of two recent commitments from three-star recruits Jeremy St. Hilaire and Whit Muschamp, head coach Clark Lea should be looking for a quarterback who can start immediately through the transfer portal.

Thankfully, in the modern era of transfers and NIL, the portal is bustling with talent on the move with numerous quarterbacks already stating their desire to leave their current schools. High-profile names like Riley Leonard, DJ Uiagalelei and Will Howard have started to litter the transfer portal and will gain attention from a variety of programs who need quarterbacks. Vanderbilt needs to act fast and heavily pursue a quarterback before they start flying off the board once the portal officially opens. With transfer announcements happening daily, here are some early names that could potentially be an option to don the Black and Gold.

Reach: Will Rogers (Mississippi State)

Honorable Mention: Tyler Van Dyke (Miami)

Will Rogers statistically is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in SEC history. He ranks second all-time in passing yards with 12,315 and fourth all-time in passing touchdowns with 94. Although he may have had a slightly underwhelming season due to an injury and a change from Mike Leach’s air-raid to Kevin Barbay’s offense, Rogers’ talent is undeniable. The quarterback possesses a great pocket presence, having a keen sense for pressure while simultaneously being extremely confident in his progressions and throws. Despite not being a very mobile quarterback, his tenacity is unmatched in the ways he can extend a play, having the ability to then make throws on all levels. As an offensive coordinator search is underway after Lynch’s firing, a quarterback with this degree of talent and expertise in the SEC would be a huge improvement and make a new coordinator’s job easier. However, there lies two issues with the longshot opportunity of Rogers finding himself at Vanderbilt. For one, Rogers has shown to thrive in the air raid strictly. Over the past two seasons, Vanderbilt has had two separate identities. In the 2022-23 season, the rushing attack of Ray Davis and Mike Wright was the headliner of the Commodores offense, whereas a troubled running game this season opened the door for Vanderbilt to live and die with the ball in the air. No one knows for sure what offensive style could be implemented at Vanderbilt in the future, but perhaps an all-out passing game with Rogers at the helm can move the needle for this program. Secondly, Rogers will be heavily sought after in this portal season, especially with programs like Ohio State, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, and many others in the race to get a premier transfer quarterback. If Vanderbilt were somehow able to attract Rogers to Nashville it would be a shock, and could give the Commodore faithful some hope for the next year.

Good Fit: Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina)

Honorable Mentions: EJ Warner (Temple), Tyler Shough (Texas Tech)

With a plethora of Power 5 quarterbacks being shuffled around, an early entry from the Group of 5 may get just as much attention. That is none other than three-time Sun Belt Player of the Year Grayson McCall, a graduate transfer who has led the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to a 38-12 and 25-5 record in the Sun Belt since 2020. Over the last four seasons, McCall has thrown for 9,980 yards, 87 passing touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. On top of that, McCall has also been a threat on the ground, carrying the ball 348 times for 1,102 yards and 18 touchdowns. While McCall may not have the arm talent of the aforementioned Rogers, he is an extremely efficient quarterback that displays twitchy athleticism and great ability in the short and intermediate passing game. McCall in 2022 played in a primarily pistol and spread option offense that thrived off confusing defenses through RPOs and gains from all angles. However, this season under offensive coordinator Travis Trickett, Coastal Carolina adopted an offense that emphasized quick passing in a pro-style scheme. Nevertheless, McCall has been productive in both systems, being able to not only adapt but utilize his talents as a high-IQ, mobile quarterback to maintain his prowess. Whereas Vanderbilt’s former signal callers Seals and Swann were more traditional pocket passers, McCall represents the modern prototype of a dual-threat quarterback, bringing along a thrilling blend of dynamic play and smart decision-making. As another heavily experienced quarterback being in the portal, McCall will surely garner the attention of multiple Power 5 programs. Yet, with basically an open starting role on West End, McCall could end up making an instant impact and reinvigorate the quarterback position at Vanderbilt for a season while allowing others to develop underneath him.

Underrated Option: Max Brosmer (New Hampshire)

Honorable Mentions: Matthew Sluka (Holy Cross), Hank Bachmeier (Louisiana Tech)

Taking the scope beyond the FBS, there have also been some notable FCS quarterbacks to hit the portal, aiming to make the jump to the top tier of college football. Early on in this portal window, two individuals stood out immediately: Matthew Sluka of Holy Cross and Max Brosmer of New Hampshire. The latter lit up the FCS, being the national leader in the division in passing yards (3,349) and second in passing touchdowns (29). His performance and talent alone have already earned him transfer offers from numerous FBS programs including Minnesota, Western Michigan, Western Kentucky and Buffalo. Even though a jump from the FCS to the SEC could be very challenging, Brosmer has the talent and repertoire to accomplish this. Originally offered a preferred walk-on position at Georgia coming out of high school, Brosmer declined and opted to play for New Hampshire where he has shined, throwing for 6,613 yards and 56 passing touchdowns, adding an extra 7 touchdowns on the ground over his past two seasons. He possesses an insanely quick release, amplified by his fearless attitude when it comes to getting the ball out of his hands. Brosmer is more than willing to sit in the pocket and deliver strikes to his receivers, but also has some overlooked athleticism when it comes to escaping the pocket or taking off on his own, especially in short yardage situations. The quick release paired with his swift mechanics allows for Brosmer to make fast decisions on where to place the football, whether that be a long ball up the seam or snapping off his downfield progressions to a running back checkdown. He makes all these throws with fantastic accuracy and it is difficult to truly dislike the potential upside the New Hampshire gunslinger has. Considering that many of the bigger programs will try to gather those hefty names in the portal, a talented quarterback like Brosmer could fall right in the arms of Vanderbilt.

Ultimately, the transfer season has only just begun, meaning there can be even more quarterbacks to announce their decisions to depart from their schools. The bottom line is that quarterback has to be a point of concern for Lea and with the lack of results shown through trying to strictly develop talent through recruiting, the next step is to utilize the transfer portal. Vanderbilt needs to find its starter sooner or later, and the portal is the key to this search. 

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About the Contributors
David Hernandez
David Hernandez, Lead Sports Analyst
David Hernandez (‘26) is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in political science and law, history and society with a minor in communication studies. Outside of writing for The Hustler, you can find him playing basketball, catching up on his favorite shows and mourning the tragedy that is New York sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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