Just over a month ago, former Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins announced his decision to become a graduate transfer, making him eligible to play immediately at a new school of his choice.
Now it appears as if four schools are leading in his recruitment — Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Nebraska and UCLA, according to Adam Rittenburg of ESPN.
Dawkins plans to visit both FAU and Indiana in the next few weeks.
UCLA, Indiana, Nebraska and Florida Atlantic are among the schools showing interest in quarterback Brandon Dawkins, a graduate transfer from Arizona. Dawkins is planning to visit FAU and Indiana in the coming weeks. Dawkins passed for 2,418 yards and... https://t.co/lkA5wMcTy1— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) March 23, 2018
When former co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith took the same position at Illinois, Dawkins had said that Smith was “really on him” to reunite for one final year.
Many thought New Mexico could be an option simply because of the tie to associate head coach and co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee.
UNM doesn’t seem likely, and Illinois still seems like a viable option, but the four new schools do make for interesting landing spots in their own way.
Florida Atlantic is looking to replace its starting quarterback, Jason Driskel, who led the Owls to an 11-3 season and retired upon completion of the 2017 season.
Right now, FAU is a wild card with two talented backups.
The first is Chris Robison, who left Oklahoma almost immediately upon arriving to campus, after being dismissed for public intoxication. Now at FAU, he finds himself suspended indefinitely from all football activities, according to head coach Lane Kiffin. Robinson was ranked No. 172 in the nation overall and No. 7 among pro-style quarterbacks.
De’Andre Johnson is their other notable quarterback, a former Netflix series Last Chance U star. He enrolled at Florida State as a three-star prospect ranked No. 374 overall and No. 10 among dual-threats. He was later dismissed after punching a woman at a bar, which led him to East Mississippi CC, and now FAU.
Johnson has been cleared to practice spring, after blood clots held in his arm forced him to sit out his first season with Owls.
This makes for an interesting landing spot for Dawkins. The depth isn’t really there and there are big question marks surrounding the health and status of the current quarterbacks.
FAU is an extremely popular location for transfers thanks to what Lane Kiffin has done in such a short amount of time, and being one of Dawkins’ first visits makes it pretty realistic.
Indiana will also be replacing its starting senior quarterback, and has three very underwhelming options to look to now.
The frontrunner for now seems to be redshirt sophomore Peyton Ramsey. He was a three-star prospect out of Cincinnati, Ohio, ranked outside the top 1000 overall and just inside the top 50 for pro-style quarterback. He appeared in nine games and played extensively in 2017.
Two former Arizona targets are also in the mix — Nick Tronti, a three-star dual-threat from Florida who will be entering his redshirt freshman season. And Michael Penix, a high-end three-star who originally committed to Tennessee in 2018, but later flipped to the Hoosiers after the coaching change and quarterback recruitment carousel.
While the up-tempo offense works, Dawkins would have to battle a quarterback who has already played quite a bit, the location and program don’t draw much appeal either. However, he will be at the school visting soon.
Nebraska has a new coach in Scott Frost who’s arriving from UCF, which makes things interesting. Tanner Lee left Nebraska a year early for the NFL, which leaves the group inexperienced at quarterback. But collectively, this seems to be the most talented group of the four interested in Dawkins.
Patrick O’Brien is the only quarterback with experience, and only has three games under his belt. He entered the program as a top-200 recruit, and the No. 10 pro-style quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class.
Tristan Gebbia was part of the 2017 class, and redshirted as a freshman. He was ranked No. 200 in the nation and No. 9 among pro-style quarterbacks.
But arguably the most dangerous quarterback is Adrian Martinez, who after signed with Frost arrived in Lincoln, decommitting from Tennessee. Martinez ranked No. 139 overall and No. 7 among dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2018 class.
UCLA will begin the Chip Kelly era by having to replace Josh Rosen with yet another batch of inexperienced quarterbacks.
It likely starts off with former Arizona commit Devon Modster. Modster backed off of Arizona after the quarterback depth chart was getting thick with Khalil Tate and re-commitment of Braxton Burmeister, who is now at Oregon.
Modster appeared in five games last season, playing two full games for the injured Rosen. He completed 64 percent of his passes and threw for 671 yards and four touchdowns to no interceptions. Not a bad place to start, but it’s up to Kelly to see what he likes and doesn’t like from the redshirt sophomore.
What makes UCLA’s situation harder to imagine is the fact that they’ve already landed a graduate transfer in KJ Carta-Samuels from Washington earlier in January. He was once a top-220 recruit and No. 12 among pro-style quarterbacks, though he only had 47 pass attempts in three years at Washington.
Lastly, it would probably come down to Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a true freshman out of Bishop Gorman. He was ranked as the No. 36 player in the nation and No. 2 among dual-threat quarterbacks. He could have picked virtually any school in the nation, and is headed to UCLA this fall.
Playing in Chip Kelly’s system, familiar with the Pac-12 defenses, close to home, it makess sense.
At Arizona, Dawkins’ career left a lot to be desired. He entered as a top 550 recruit, No. 14 among dual-threat quarterbacks. He held offers to Notre Dame, NC State and Utah.
His size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds made him extremely intriguing, but we didn’t know much about him until the last game of his redshirt freshman season.
He almost led Arizona to a monumental comeback at Arizona State in 2015, after Anu Solomon was ruled out and Jerrard Randall got pulled early on. While the comeback fell short, Dawkins showed a lot promise, and it made a lot of people question why he was behind Randall all season, who had some big time accuracy issues.
The quarterback competition seemed to be real between Solomon and Dawkins the following season, as Solomon hadn’t shown much of what he did as a redshirt freshman, when he led Arizona to a Fiesta Bowl.
In 2016, when the offense was stagnant, fans were clamoring for Dawkins, and for good reason. We had seen Dawkins shred ASU with no preparation, and the offense wasn’t going anywhere.
Solomon eventually went down for the season to injury, and Dawkins took over as the starter.
It wasn’t exactly what Arizona fans had hoped for. The team went on to win only three games that season, and Dawkins certainly had his fair share of blunders, but the team as a whole was just really, really bad, too.
Entering 2017 as the starter, Dawkins started to show more signs of struggle, including a painful game against Houston and Utah. Khalil Tate was apparently “banged up” and had a shoulder injury that prevented him from throwing.
After one series against Colorado in week four, Dawkins was sidelined and in came Khalil Tate, who took over for the remainder of the season, which led to Dawkins’ decision to transfer.
Dawkins threw for 2,418 yards and 15 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in his UA career. He also added 1,582 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground.