Have no clue what quarterback Jaxson Dart’s plans actually are now that he’s exiting USC through the transfer portal, but if the former Corner Canyon star chooses one of the two instate schools — Utah or BYU — that went after him before he stiffed both of them to select the Trojans, he’d have good reasons.
Here’s what he should look at, considering those two options:
The Utes have Cam Rising in position to start for the next two seasons, unless he decides to enter the NFL draft before his eligibility is up, or unless Dart transfers in and beats him out.
With the way Rising took command of Utah’s offense after losing the initial QB battle to Charlie Brewer at last season’s start, it’s difficult to see him relinquishing that spot between nyah and nyah. Unless Joe Freaking Montana transferred in. Dart could end up being a great college quarterback, but Joe, he’s not.
Utes offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has proved to be a quarterback soothsayer of sorts, what with Tyler Huntley emerging the way he did and now Rising. On the other hand, there is a history at Utah — though Utah folks hate to acknowledge it — of quarterbacks coming into the program via recruitment or transfer, then stepping into a dusty cloud and losing their way. This happened to the two most recent transfers — Jake Bentley from South Carolina and Brewer from Baylor — each of them flopping, and likely regretting their decisions to come to Utah.
On the other hand, Rising once was a transfer, too.
The successes of Huntley and Rising take precedent here, proving to a young athlete like Dart that he not only could play for the Utes and have an impact in the Pac-12, but that he could prepare himself for what every college quarterback really wants — a clear path to the NFL.
The Pac-12 hasn’t exactly been at the pinnacle of the P5 pyramid overall in recent seasons, but it’s had a quarterback or two or three or four who have followed that desired path and done just fine with it.
Added bonus: If Dart transferred to Utah, he would have a shot at thumping Lincoln Riley, the coach who arrived at SC and decided Dart wasn’t a top priority for him, for as long as he played college ball.
One more: Utah’s program is respected by everyone.
The Cougars, like the Utes, already have an incumbent starter at quarterback. Jaren Hall has two seasons of eligibility left, if he sticks around that long, and based on the way he played in 2021, he’ll likely need both of those seasons to refine his game enough to get ready for a shot at the pros. Hall’s a terrific athlete who exceeded early expectations, leading BYU to a stretch that, despite a disappointing bowl loss, also exceeded expectations. Hall did not play in that bowl loss, and that brings up another consideration for Dart.
The BYU starter can be vulnerable to injury. In fairness, the same could be said for all quarterbacks — Dart himself suffered an injury this past season at USC — and no transfer wants to hang around like a turkey buzzard, watching and waiting for the starter to get hurt and then pick at the remains.
Here’s an important additional thing: Any gifted quarterback would be out of his mind not to want to play for offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. Dude is smart and aggressive and trustable, the kind of guru that allows and enables a quarterback to thrive.
While John Beck got a lot of credit for Zach Wilson’s development during his BYU years, Roderick was a key in putting the QB in positions and places for him to not just look good, but to be good — enough for him to become the second overall pick in the draft. Couple that with Hall’s progress under A-Rod, and that makes the BYU potential and prospects for a talent like Dart compelling.
The Cougars have a tough schedule next season while preparing to head into the Big 12, but, as Wilson’s success indicated, degree of difficulty in a schedule doesn’t seem to matter all that much to NFL scouts. Not as much as decision-making skills and arm talent.
So, what’s the verdict here? If Dart were to actually transfer to a school in Utah — and he’ll get plenty of interest from a whole lot of programs outside the state, too — which school should he pick?
BYU or Utah? Utah or BYU?
Decisions, decisions, life’s full of ‘em.
There’s no question about it, he should go to …
Um. Uh. Hmm.
What’s this? … Just spilled a cup of honey on my keyboard … computer ... keys … seem … to … be … sticking.
He should go to …
Hell, I dunno. Beats me.
Does he look better in blue or red?
Who’s gonna pay him more?
Your call, Jaxson. Your call, alone.