MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Given the general cynicism surrounding West Virginia’s quarterback situation, news of any talented arm hitting the transfer wire sparks interest. Even if that news occurs 1,300 miles away.
Chances, though minuscule, that Texas A&M sophomore Kyle Allen could spend the second half of his career at West Virginia became a Thursday thing among some Mountaineers fans. (After all, the sort-of-news regarding coach Dana Holgorsen being retained was 24 hours old, practically ancient, and something needed to fill the void.)
Outlining the scenario:
Consensus No. 1 a free agent again. Coming out of Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2014, Allen was the nation’s top-rated pro-style quarterback by Rivals, 247Sports, Scout and ESPN. Whatever level of validity you attach to those rankings, it’s an endorsement all of them placed Allen at the top, and his two-year A&M totals (33 touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions in 14 starts) show promise, especially since he was facing SEC defenses. On a curious note, Allen told FoxSports on Thursday, “I never really liked recruiting, but I guess I gotta through it again.” And he’ll need to go through it fast, in order to enroll at his new school by January. The presumption being that leaving A&M before the Music City Bowl appearance against Louisville means Allen plans to go through spring practice with a new program in 2016 though he won’t be eligible until 2017.
The Jake Spavital impact. It looks probable A&M coach Kevin Sumlin will demote/fire his offensive coordinator—fallout from a unit stacked with supreme skill players finishing 69th in scoring, 76th in passing efficiency and 88th in turnovers. Three times this season the Aggies scored one touchdown or less. Spavital, only 30, still has a promising career in front of him. He might need a landing spot, and Holgorsen might admit he needs an offensive coordinator. Does Allen value his relationship with Spavital enough to play under him again? Or is it time for a full reboot after those up-and-down two years in College Station? (There’s even a slight connection to WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who was part of the Arizona contingent that tried to recruit Allen.)
Allen will be switching conferences. Texas A&M’s release bars Allen only from SEC schools and future nonleague opponents like UCLA and Clemson. ESPN tapped Cal as a frontrunner, potentially quite the re-signing bonus for coach Sonny Dykes with Jared Goff possibly off to the NFL. Another program scheduled to replace a standout quarterback in 2017 is Oklahoma, where transitioning from Baker Mayfield to Allen could be enticing enough to make Lincoln Riley stick around. That also would mean more games against West Virginia, the team Allen lit up for five touchdowns in last season’s Liberty Bowl. (In the overlapping sphere of QB transfers, SoonersScoop.com reports backup Trevor Knight has already has spoken to Kansas State, Oregon, Georgia and SMU.)
Let’s be realistic: Bashing Holgorsen for WVU’s present quarterbacking dilemma—and it is a dilemma—has critics pointing out he inherited Geno Smith and projecting that William Crest and David Sills will only contribute at different positions. Still, let’s not discount that Holgorsen made Clint Trickett into the nation’s No. 10 passer. And for all the criticisms that Skyler Howard isn’t a legitimate Big 12 starter, this year’s Mountaineers were two plays away from winning nine games. A quarterback such as Allen could make the offense every bit as lethal as the Smith-Austin-Bailey crew did, though Holgorsen’s job insecurity beyond 2016 would be a red flag.