It’s now the time of year for college football coaches to transition from the challenges of game week preparation to the critical issues of staff decisions, signing day, and the all-important transfer portal. Although player retention comes first, LSU will be looking to strengthen its team with players that fill needs. With Jayden Daniels moving on to the NFL, one might wonder if LSU should pursue yet another transfer quarterback.
The Tigers may have a more than adequate replacement for Daniels in Garrett Nussmeier, who will return for the 2024 season. Nussmeier has the arm talent and experience in Mike Denbrock’s system to make him an easy frontrunner as the starter next year. Recruiting isn’t as simple as having talented players; championship teams also have capable backups.
Brian Kelly is not afforded the luxury of pushing Nussmeier to the forefront and hoping it all works out. Nussmeier’s physical talent is obvious, but time will tell if he can avoid turnovers over extended playing time. There’s also the unfortunate reality that he could get injured. Kelly owes it to the program and himself to make his teams as complete as possible. In doing so, he must thoroughly evaluate his quarterback room.
The Current Quarterback Room
As of now, Baton Rouge native Rickie Collins will return as a redshirt freshman in 2024. Collins was rated as a four-star recruit and top 20 quarterback in the country in the class of 2023. He’s a good athlete with physical traits similar to Daniels but not enough playing time to know how much he’s grown as a quarterback.
The Tigers also have the commitment of Colin Hurley for the 2024 class. Hurley should be a junior in high school, but he reclassified to skip his senior year. At 6’0″ and 215 pounds, he’s a strong-armed quarterback who shined at the Elite 11 finals. Hurley will enroll at LSU in January, so he’ll benefit from participating in spring practice.
Both Collins and Hurley could have the potential to successfully lead LSU at some point. That point in time is unknown at the moment, so the staff will be proactive. There’s also nuance involved in how the staff should address their pursuit of another quarterback. LSU won’t recklessly recruit the most talented quarterbacks in the portal, because those guys will likely demand immediate playing time. To keep current players out of the portal, it must be conveyed that strengthening the position is not a slight to the current group. Fortunately, Kelly has proven to be a savvy recruiter.
It’s unlikely that LSU will get an established star like Washington State’s Cam Ward or Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel. Several other intriguing options in the transfer portal could run the offense if the need arises. Chandler Rogers of North Texas passed for over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2023. The Tigers recruited UCLA’s Dante Moore heavily at the high school level. LSU’s recent quarterback development is an advantage, as Moore stated that being developed is his top priority. Jordan Mcloud is transferring from James Madison and could play two more years, thanks to the Covid year. McCloud led JMU to an 11-1 season with a 69% completion percentage.
None of the quarterbacks named have been linked to LSU since entering the portal, but their talent levels are indicative of the caliber of help available. In fact, three of the four Heisman finalists Daniels, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix, are transfer quarterbacks. To be clear, Brian Kelly has not publicly confirmed that the staff will recruit a quarterback from the portal. The volatility of rosters in present-day college football requires it. Not only should LSU recruit a transfer quarterback, but it would be irresponsible not to do so.