The 2022 college football season has several weeks more weeks to go, but the quarterback carousel is spinning ahead to 2023. One of the top QBs to hit the transfer portal so far is three-year Coastal Carolina starter Grayson McCall. Though McCall plans to suit up for the Chanticleers one last time in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 27, he'll be off to a new school after that.
McCall should have two seasons of eligibility remaining and plenty of suitors. As the only three-time Sun Belt Player of the Year in the conference's history, McCall has proven himself to be an accurate passer, effective runner and consistent winner. The Chanticleers have posted a 31-6 mark over the past three seasons during McCall's tenure at QB, which coincided with coach Jamey Chadwell's rise.
Chadwell, who is headed to Liberty to replace Hugh Freeze, employed a unique spread-option system at CCU with McCall at quarterback. The Chanticleers operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun but incorporated elements of the triple option into their scheme. Only six times in 34 career appearances has McCall attempted 30 or more passes in a game, and he's never topped 3,000 yards passing in a season.
But McCall has completed 70.4% of his passes with 78 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He's also run for 1,053 yards and 16 touchdowns. So while the scheme McCall has played in has been unique, his production speaks for itself and should translate to other systems.
Where will McCall land? Let's explore some of the options.
McCall should have plenty of Power Five options, if that's the route he wants to go. But don't rule out the possibility of a reunion with Chadwell. Their rise to prominence came in tandem, and neither would be where they are today without the other. While this would seem like a lateral move to some, McCall's comfort within Chadwell's system would make this an easy transition and a huge win for Chadwell and the Flames. We see quarterback-coach reunions all the time in the transfer portal era. Caleb Williams at USC, Michael Penix Jr. at Washington and Bo Nix at Oregon were excellent examples this season of how reuniting with a specific coach can be the best option for a transferring quarterback.
2. NC State
Speaking of reunions, Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong trsnsferring to NC State would make a ton of sense as former UVA offensive coordinator Robert Anae enters into the OC role for the Wolfpack. Anae developed Armstrong into one of the ACC's top quarterbacks in 2021 and helped Syracuse's Garrett Shrader take a big step forward this season. But if Armstrong looks elsewhere or McCall winds up as the Wolfpack's priority, he could be a natural fit. Anae's past two quarterbacks are good runners just like McCall. But McCall is a more accurate and natural passer than both. Seeing what Anae could do with a more natural quarterback would be fun, and it could be a good fit for McCall, who is from North Carolina.
While Robby Ashford showed flashes of promise as a dual-threat quarterback in Bryan Harsin's system this season, McCall is a more accurate passer and proven winner. As Freeze figures out his quarterback situation, McCall should stand out as a particularly appealing option. McCall turned in an excellent performance against Freeze's Liberty team in the 2020 Cure Bowl that Freeze should remember quite well. Though the Flames won the game, McCall was a better passer than Liberty's Malik Willis that night. Freeze developed Willis into an NFL Draft pick and has consistently fielded exciting offenses led by dynamic quarterbacks during his career. Auburn also seems like a good cultural fit for McCall, who could be the dose of lighter fluid for Freeze at Auburn that Bo Wallace was for Freeze early in his tenure at Ole Miss.
Florida coach Billy Napier coached against McCall in 2020 when Coastal Carolina edged Louisiana 30-27 in a big Sun Belt battle. Now, Napier is in search of a quarterback at Florida following Anthony Richardson's announcement that he is declaring for the NFL Draft and backup Jalen Kitna's dismissal from the program. There are similarities between McCall's game and the style of former Louisiana quarterback Levi Lewis, who helped Napier become a coaching star. Both Lewis and McCall navigated their teams to Sun Belt success as dual-threat quarterbacks with excellent touchdown-to-interception ratios.
Richardson made plenty of highlight-reel plays in Napier's first season at Florida, but his inaccuracy hampered the offense as he completed just 53.8% of his passes. McCall's career 70.4% completion percentage might look awfully appealing to Napier right now. McCall also threw fewer interceptions in three seasons as Coastal Carolina's starter (eight) than Richardson did just this season (nine).
5. Oregon State or UCLA
McCall landed an NIL deal with a racetrack before this past season and he's sported a mullet for much of his college career. Envisioning him playing in the Pac-12 takes some creativity. Then again, the idea of Nix -- a second-generation Auburn quarterback -- suiting up for Oregon and thriving on the West Coast also seemed unlikely.
The difference is that there was an obvious connection between Nix and Oregon in the form of offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who'd been with Nix during his freshman season at Auburn. There is no obvious connection between McCall and these Pac-12 schools. Ultimately, though, both are looking for quarterbacks and McCall is one of the best on the transfer market. On the field, he would be a particularly natural fit at UCLA as coach Chip Kelly replace Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Off the field, it would be like a remake of the Beverly Hillbillies.