To be Sean Maguire or Jeff Lockie must feel a bit like Woody in Toy Story, with transfer quarterbacks acting as the attention-stealing Buzz Lightyears within their football programs.
Maguire and Lockie are the returning reserves to each of college football’s last two Heisman Trophy winners, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
There weren’t two longer shadows cast in the sport than theirs, but Winston and Mariota leaving Florida State and Oregon for the NFL would have seemingly left the spotlight to their understudies.
Instead, all the buzz from national media concerning Florida State is about Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson. Local reporters see it, too, as Corey Clark’s column in Sunday’s Tallahassee Democrat summarizes Sean Maguire’s place in the Seminole quarterback competition best:
“Now, it’s like Sean Maguire’s become a forgotten man.”
At least Maguire vs. Golson is a legitimate competition right now, though. Oregon’s Jeff Lockie has spent the last few seasons practicing alongside Mariota and playing in mop-up duty, in anticipation of taking the reins once Mariota left Eugene.
He got his first opportunity as The Man in the spring, earning rave reviews from Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich.
Seemingly, some of Mariota’s style had to have rubbed off on Lockie.
On a national level, Lockie’s been pushed aside for a rival to Mariota’s throne who has yet to even join the team. No one will know if Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams is even eligible to start for Oregon this season until sometime after 12:30 p.m. PT Thursday.
That’s the date of Adams’ last final to complete his required coursework for transfer into Oregon.
Adams had no spring practice, was not allowed to go through workouts with any current Oregon players, isn’t yet a Duck…and is the presumptive starter, depending who you ask.
There are certain assumptions inherent when a program takes on a graduate transfer quarterback — particularly a program with designs on immediately competing. Florida State and Oregon both fall squarely into this category.
The foremost assumption is that such programs don’t take on a newcomer without certain assurances — or at least, strong insinuation — that the transfer moves to the head of the line.
However, Florida State quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders offered some illuminating insight into the process, via Clark’s abovementioned column. Sanders plays up Sean Maguire’s competitive side, and the quarterback’s realization that being pushed in fall camp will have more him prepared for the season if his number’s called.
Maybe Maguire will be the starter Week 1; maybe he won’t. But if he’s not, a heated competition with Everett Golson in fall camp gives Florida State someone with a starter’s mindset, and a starter’s repetitions in practice, should Golson go down injured or prove ineffective.
It certainly didn’t hurt Alabama last fall when Blake Sims, one-time reserve to 2013 Heisman finalist A.J. McCarron, was embroiled in a summer-long competition with Jacob Coker.
Coker might be in McGuire’s position now had he opted to remain at Florida State. Instead, he played the role of the Crimson Tide’s Buzz Lightyear last summer, with overzealous Alabama fans expecting him to take the team to infinity and beyond.
I can’t count the number of times I read or heard someone, whether it be a hardcore Alabama fan or a college football pundit, claim Blake Sims was incapable of leading the Tide to a championship. Well, he had some statistically historic games en route to an SEC title in 2014.
As for a national championship, there are plenty of reasons Alabama fell short. If Blake Sims is to blame, it’s only because he didn’t play defense to help stop Ezekiel Elliott.