The state and regional college football news of the day yesterday was Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams announcing and confirming earlier expectations that he will transfer to Oregon this summer term, and immediately be the experienced front-runner in the competition to replace Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota as the Ducks quarterback.
Adams is on track to graduate from Eastern Washington this spring term, and still has 1 year of eligibility left, which under NCAA rules means he can transfer to another school and be immediately eligible, instead of having to sit out a season as is usually the case for transfers. And given he's proven he can compete with Pac-12 teams (7 touchdowns thrown in a 3 point loss to Washington last season), and even beat them (leading the Eagles to an upset of Oregon St. in the 2013 season opener), he's likely to win the job as the starter for the Ducks.
And his arrival did nothing to dampen the other Oregon announcement of the day, that head coach Mark Helfrich will get a raise, from the bargain $2 million a year that he earned as one of the lowest paid coaches in the conference, to $3.5 million a year for 5 years (plus other bonuses, incentives, and details, including a roll over clause a little more demanding than the one former Oregon St. coach Mike Riley enjoyed; Helfrich gets an automatic extension for a year if he wins 11 games in a season and one of those wins is one of the New Years Eve/Day 6 major bowls).
That adds a new twist to the Civil War (and the Oregon at Washington game, as well as the Ducks' season opener this fall, against Eastern Washington), but is it the end of the story as far as senior season quarterback transfers that will make a difference to Beaver Nation? Maybe not.
Utah St. star Chuckie Keeton is one of the top spread quarterbacks in the country. He suffered a season ending knee injury last fall, in the Aggies' 3rd game of the year, against Wake Forest. This after suffering a season ending knee injury the year before, in Utah St.'s 6th game of the season against BYU.
Keeton has played in each of his 4 seasons in Logan, but the 6' Houston, TX native, who never used a red-shirt season, just received word from the NCAA that he has been granted an extra year of eligibility. Utah St. played 14 games last year, a product of both the Hawaii rule that allows an extra game (everyone but Oregon St. always exercises this revenue stream enhancer) when a team travels to the islands for a regular season game and their appearance in the New Mexico Bowl. So the early timing of his injury makes him eligible under the 25% rule, which Oregon St. fans will remember as the basis for an extra season for James Rodgers.
Keeton would have to finish his degree work at Utah St., before he can transfer, but and Oregon St. is already a topic of conversation.
Why would Keeton consider doing that? Well, there are a lot of reasons.
Starting with new Oregon St. head coach Gary Andersen, who was the head coach at Utah St. from 2009 through 2012, and recruited Keeton, who played immediately for Andersen as a true freshman in 2011, starting 8 games.
But there's plenty of additional reasons, starting with Offensive Coordinator Dave Baldwin, who was also the Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Utah St. when Keeton was being recruited, and the OC in his first season on the field.
And then there is new Oregon St. quarterbacks coach Kevin McGiven, who was the Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks coach the last 2 years at Utah St.
Also, remember his Houston, TX, roots, and the fact that WR coach Brent Brennan's south Texas roots means he knows EVERYONE in that part of the country.
Utah St. also has an abundance of quarterback talent, with Kent Myers, Darell Garretson and Oregon transfer Damion Hobbs all on roster. And a rash of injuries at the position means both Garretson and Myers have considerable game experience.
Meanwhile, Oregon St. graduated Sean Mannion, and the only other quarterback on the roster that played last season is Luke Del Rio, who threw all of 18 passes, the majority of which were incomplete.
Third string quarterback Brent VanderVeen will be a red-shirt junior, is in the drop-back pocket quarterback model vs. being a spread-type quarterback, and has never thrown a pass in a game.
The quarterbacks on the roster who are the best fits for running the spread option Andersen prefers and has already said he intends to implement are redshirt freshman Marcus McMaryion and redshirt sophomore Kyle Kempt, neither of which have ever been in a game.
And Oregon St. is in the Pac-12, a power-5 conference while Utah St. is in the Mt. West.
Most Oregon St. fans first became acquainted with the business of quarterbacks transferring after graduating to play their senior season in a better situation as far as advancing possible future pro prospects was Russel Wilson, who arrived in Wisconsin from North Carolina St. just in time to destroy the Beavers early in the 2011 season, on his way to the Seattle Seahawks, and regular appearances in Super Bowls.
Mannion could have made a move under this rule before last season as well, having his degree already in hand.
It's becoming a frequent, if not common practice, and at other positions as well (recall the Beavers had transfer TE Jacob Wark last season), and Andersen has indicated he is philosophically not opposed to using JC transfers or other late-career transfers (some coaches still are) if it means putting a better player on the field.
The downside is Keeton's propensity to get injured; his freshman season was also cut short by an injury at Hawaii, but that's partially a product of the style of the offense, and he is expected to have a clean bill of health for this coming season. Keep in mind too that Oregon St. did not sign a full recruiting class, with only 22 of the NCAA allotted 25 LOIs recorded. Those may not all go to walk-ons who have earned it, as Andersen kept some space for just such an opportunity.
Keeton could be the key to transition of a position at Oregon St. that hasn't seen the likes of what's coming in the Beaver offense, and CFB generally, EVER.
Something to watch.