Former Lake Travis quarterback standout Matthew Baldwin announced that he will transfer from Ohio State to TCU after just one year with the Buckeyes, according to 247Sports. Baldwin will appeal for immediate eligibility.
After taking over the starting job at Lake Travis from Charlie Brewer as a senior, Baldwin quickly rose from underrated to blue-chip prospect. He completed 70 percent of his passes and threw for more than 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns as part of a 13-3 season. The redshirt freshman is a big addition to the quarterback room.
But while picking up a highly-touted transfer from Ohio State is a nice move for TCU, it only adds another level of confusion and drama to what has already been a complicated quarterback situation in Fort Worth.
Just eight months ago, the thought of taking on a young quarterback transfer would have been unheard of. TCU signed Shawn Robinson and Justin Rogers, the two most touted quarterback signees in the history of the school. With 2019 signee Max Duggan, the position seemed to be solidified for the better part of the next decade.
Months later, the position is much more tenuous. Robinson ended up leaving halfway through the 2018 season and Penn transfer Michael Collins struggled in the role. The coaching staff has said Rogers is about 90 percent back from a catastrophic knee injury he sustained before his senior year of high school, but read the tea leaves. Baldwin, a fellow redshirt freshman, is the second quarterback transfer of the offseason Gary Patterson got on campus. Kansas State grad transfer Alex Delton arrived in January.
More competition under center is almost always a positive, but the competition was already congested. Patterson characterizes the quarterback race as between five men at this point: Rogers, Duggan, Collins, Delton and walk-on Matthew Downing. If Baldwin is able to gain immediate eligibility, that competition goes up to six men.
Whichever quarterback ultimately wins the battle will be proven. Any six-man competition will do that. But after adding a player with four years of eligibility to the mix, managing the roster becomes much more difficult.
If Baldwin wins the job, Rogers might never be the starting quarterback at TCU and could transfer. The inverse is true too. Duggan coming in and winning the job would potentially disrupt both Baldwin and Rogers, and could push both out the door.
Of course, Baldwin still has to appeal for eligibility, so there’s no guarantee his presence becomes an issue in this cycle. But still, if he sits out the 2019 season, he’ll still be at the same step of eligibility as Rogers. How does that work long-term? Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie will have several tough decisions in his hands over the next few months.
The Horned Frogs have managed to cobble together solid quarterback play every year since joining the Big 12, with a period of elite performance with Trevone Boykin. But on the other end, the high school quarterback signees since joining the Big 12 have flopped hard.
Since joining the conference in 2012, seven scholarship high school quarterbacks have enrolled at TCU. Duggan and Rogers are still on campus. Robinson and Grayson Muehlstein are the only two to start a game – the latter out of pure necessity.
The seven high school quarterback recruits have combined to complete 55.9 percent of their passes for 2,324 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Four transferred. Muehlstein is the only one to finish his eligibility with the team. Last year is when the departures really bit TCU, as the Horned Frogs didn’t have particularly good options after Robinson didn’t pan out.
Quarterback transfers are a bigger part of the sport than ever, so it’s right for Patterson to be prepared. This is the new normal. If Rogers is still struggled with nerve damage in his lower body, there’s even more reason to get more bodies in the quarterback room, especially a talented one.
But regardless, TCU went through spring practice with a crowded quarterback room. Immediately looking to the transfer market afterwards – especially for a player whose eligibility overlaps with the presumed future star of the program – isn’t the greatest indicator.