The question has only picked up steam over the last few weeks.
Which graduate transfer quarterback will Missouri pursue for next season?
Kelly Bryant, he of a 16-2 starting record at Clemson, is officially on the market. Jalen Hurts, currently the Art Garfunkel to Tua Tagovailoa’s Paul Simon, is anticipated to join him on the waiver wire eventually.
Other names are wildly speculated on message boards and social media — Mason Fine at North Texas, for instance.
There’s likely to be no shortage of talented grad-transfer quarterbacks for Missouri to pursue for the post-Drew Lock era.
But here’s a more important question:
Should Missouri actually go after a grad transfer quarterback for the 2019 and, possibly, 2020 season?
I don’t think they should — and please forgive me for immediately hedging — at least not right now.
Recent history with graduate transfers under Barry Odom has not been great. Chris Black was supposed to add a big-time threat to Missouri’s passing game; he finished with 17 catches for 257 yards and a touchdown — nearly 40-percent of those yards and the lone touchdown came in the season-opener in 2016.
Remember Alex Ross, the former Oklahoma running back? The guy that was supposed to be a bruising threat in Missouri’s rushing attack in 2016? He finished with 24 carries for 71 yards. He had 20 of those carries and 72 yards after two games; his final four carries netted negative-1 yard.
But those recent misses aren’t the reason why I don’t think Missouri should go after a grad transfer at quarterback. Instead, I think Barry Odom and his staff should focus on finding a more-permanent solution at quarterback, even if that means taking some lumps in 2019.
Those lumps may be there regardless of who is behind center. Drew Lock is gone. Emanuel Hall, Terry Beckner, Terez Hall, Paul Adams, Kevin Pendleton — Missouri loses much of its most experienced players.
Most of its most talented players, too.
Personally, I’m not sure Jalen Hurts or Kelly Bryant (again, probably a pipe dream to begin with) could erase the cumulative effect of those losses.
So why not take the lumps and find out what you have in Taylor Powell or Micah Wilson or Lindsey Scott, Jr.? Why not have a wide-open competition where, potentially, even 4-star 2019 commitment Connor Bazelak gets a shot?
Whenever a starter is announced for 2019, there will be transfers. The odds of Missouri carrying these four scholarship quarterbacks past Week 4, 2019, are slim-to-none. But signing a graduate transfer quarterback COULD potentially expedite more transfers in the QB room. If you sign a grad transfer quarterback, that comes with the assumption (real or not) that he will be the starter in 2019.
And, unless you find a transfer with two years of eligibility left, you’re left in a similar situation for 2020. Only this time, you don’t even have the same number of players to compete for the vacancy.
Now, about that caveat — Missouri shouldn’t go after a graduate transfer AT THIS TIME.
If Barry Odom is coaching for his job in 2019, he absolutely should go after a grad transfer quarterback. If Missouri ends this season with eight or nine wins, Odom’s seat won’t be very warm in 2019. If the Tigers pull off ten wins (and that isn’t completely unrealistic), then Odom will be in Columbia for the long-haul.
But if there’s the chance that Odom is coaching for his job in 2019 — a 6-6 regular season or worse would certainly at least raise that question — a grad transfer quarterback could be a necessity.
I don’t think Missouri is going to be in that position, though.