Patrick Towles is just the latest fifth-year quarterback to defect to the ACC for one last go-round. The former Kentucky quarterback recently completed his first spring with Boston College and is locked in a position battle with redshirt sophomore Darius Wade, who is returning from ankle surgery.
But what else is Towles up against when it comes to graduate transfer quarterbacks in the ACC? Let’s take a look at recent league cases:
Nate Peterman, 2015 Pitt: Peterman unseated incumbent Panthers starter Chad Voytik after two games, connecting with a familiar face in offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who had coached Peterman at Tennessee. (Chaney has since left for Georgia.) Peterman went 6-5 as as starter, completing better than 61 percent of his passes for 2,287 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions, adding 233 rushing yards and another score on the ground. Peterman had enrolled in the summer and has one more year of eligibility in 2016, when he will be Pitt’s starter again.
Everett Golson, 2015 Florida State: The former Notre Dame quarterback transferred to FSU following last spring, when he was locked in a position battle with Malik Zaire. Golson beat out Sean Maguire in fall camp for the starting spot, but had a generally uneven year: Golson went 7-1 as a starter, completing better than 67 percent of his throws for 1,778 yards with 11 touchdowns and three picks. He was benched midway through the Seminoles’ 10th game and did not travel with the team to its bowl game. Golson’s resume entering Tallahassee was among the best of any graduate transfers, having gone 17-6 with the Irish and leading them to the national title game in the 2012 season.
Michael Brewer, 2014-15 Virginia Tech. Brewer transferred from Texas Tech and was the Hokies’ starter for two years, starting 20 games and completing better than 59 percent of his passes for 4,395 yards with 31 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He added three rushing scores as well. Brewer missed five games last year after breaking his collarbone in the season opener, so it was tough to get a good read on him with a full year in the program. (Brewer had enrolled in the summer of 2014.) Brewer was sharp in limited reserve action with the Red Raiders in the two years before he arrived in Blacksburg.
Tyler Murphy, 2014 Boston College: As far as late-career success stories go, it doesn’t get much better than what Murphy did in Chestnut Hill two seasons ago. In his lone year with the Eagles, Murphy led BC to a 7-6 season, breaking the ACC record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,184. He completed better than 57 percent of his passes for 1,623 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 picks, adding 11 rushing touchdowns. Murphy transferred in from Florida during the spring semester after a Gators career in which he started six games amid a crowded QB situation.
Towles has career numbers of 5,099 passing yards and 24 touchdowns and 24 picks. He started 22 straight games for the Wildcats before graduating in December. And that, more than anything, might be what gives Boston College fans optimism about this move: It simply isn’t that easy to enroll in the summer and get up to speed in 7-on-7 workouts and fall camp. While Golson and Peterman had their ups and downs last season (with Peterman’s story still being written), Murphy was an undeniable success story for a team that was projected to finish sixth in the Atlantic Division in 2014. (While Brewer was derailed by injuries to teammates in 2014 and to himself in 2015.) Murphy, like Towles, enrolled in the spring semester, giving him a full spring practice with his new Eagles teammates.
Rarely does a coach bring in a quarterback for one year without the intention to start him in that one year, so you have to think Towles has a great shot at taking the opening snap for BC on Sept. 3 in Dublin, Ireland, against Georgia Tech.
“I’ve known Patrick for a long time,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said recently on the ACC teleconference. “He had a great high school career and we competed against him at Kentucky. He's a very fine quarterback. He's big and physical, has a good release, and can really throw the football. He definitely should do a good job there.”