A key domino in the college football world fell Tuesday when Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow announced on Twitter that he would transfer away from the Buckeyes and look to play the 2018 season at another school.
Burrow graduated this week and will be immediately eligible at whichever school he decides to transfer to.
Speaking a day before Burrow’s announcement, Dan Mullen said the Gators were not looking to add a graduate transfer quarterback, “right now.”
“Not right now we’re not really looking at it,” Mullen told reporters in Lakeland on Monday night. “I feel pretty good about the guys that we have, you know, the depth that we’re creating at that position and the competition at that position.”
Tuesday, speaking to reporters in Ft. Lauderdale at the Broward County Gator Club Mullen was asked again, specifically about Burrow. Mullen is restricted about what he can and can’t say when it comes to transfers, even graduate transfers until they are granted a full release from their current school, but he did have this to offer.
“A lot of it is going to be need based, guys coming in that are going to have a significant role on the team. I mean when you’re taking someone to transfer in you’re taking them for a reason — to play, not just to come in and sit the bench for two years. That’s probably why they’re leaving the school they’re at.”
Burrow took a redshirt his first season at Ohio State but has playing experience (11 games, 29-39 passing, 287 yards, 2 TD, 1 rushing TD) and has two years of eligibility remaining. His eligibility will be a big lure to teams, making him not just a Band-Aid like fix and more of a viable option for multiple seasons.
Making a case for Burrow to join the ranks at Florida is an easy one. Mullen spent years learning under Meyer and runs a very similar spread offense. Burrow would essentially be handed the same playbook he’s had for three years at Ohio State. He would walk into a quarterback room with only one player who has real game experience and no clear leader for the starting position. Burrow told reporters that he didn’t attend Ohio State to sit the bench, so starting is obviously important. Mullen won’t offer him a guarantee but film doesn’t lie and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call him a frontrunner for the starting job if he were to pick Florida. Additionally, the transfer of Jake Allen leaves the Gators with just three quarterbacks, which is less than ideal.
“Two is scary,” Mullen, who had only two scholarship quarterbacks on roster at Mississippi state in 2017 said. “You want to have a minimum of three. I feel comfortable with three going into the season but when you get down to two you get a little nervous.”
Burrow also has family ties to Nebraska. His father, Jimmy, and his brothers Jamie and Dan all went to Nebraska. Scott Frost is bringing his electric spread offense. To Lincoln and is tasked with replacing a three-year starter in Tanner Lee. There were very positive signs from true freshman Adrian Martinez. The Huskers also have two sophomores (Patrick O’Brien, Andrew Bunch) as well as a redshirt freshman (Tristan Gebbia).
There is also a connection at Texas. The Longhorns, however, have two quarterbacks that are battling for one job already in Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele.
LSU could also be viewed as an option. The Tigers have consistently been held back by quarterback play, despite great defenses, receivers and running backs throughout the past decade. Burrow could essentially walk into LSU and be the starting quarterback from day one.
There will be plenty of suitors but the biggest question is why wouldn’t Mullen go for Burrow? The only reason Mullen would decide not to pursue Burrow would be that he doesn’t view the quarterback as a fit in his program, or even as a potential upgrade over the three quarterbacks he has.
There’s no reason for Mullen to not at least test the water and see what interest Burrow has.