What makes all of these players’ stories so compelling is that there was no guarantee that any of their situations would pan out. It’s a potentially life-changing gamble, especially for those players who see football as their future. There are other transfer quarterbacks — like Missouri graduate Kelly Bryant and Washington junior Jacob Eason — who have resurrected their NFL dreams after being shunted aside at their previous schools, but these three have proven more than any others that, sometimes, all you need is a second chance. Hurts graduated from the University of Alabama last spring after going 26-2 as a starter. You’d think this would be a reasonably happy end to a college career, but not in this case. Hurts had been riding the bench behind junior Tua Tagovailoa since the National Championship game following the 2017 season, and he had one year of eligibility left. This is a good thing. In many cases, college football recruiting can mislead high-level recruits as to what their role on a team or experience at a school will be. Far too often, players arrive at a school and ride the bench for two to three seasons after being told they’d have a “chance” to start right away. What they weren’t told, however, was that that chance is usually slim to none. Thus, he followed the storied path of Sooners quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray and transferred to Oklahoma to learn under head coach Lincoln Riley. The result? More than 2,000 yards through the air and 700 on the ground thus far. What’s better? He’s resurrected his NFL chances at Oklahoma, and he’s on pace to have his best season yet. Why bring this up now? Well, several transfers have set the college football world ablaze this season. In particular, LSU redshirt senior Joe Burrow, Ohio State sophomore Justin Fields and Oklahoma senior Jalen Hurts are all quarterbacks who have become Heisman favorites after being cast aside at their previous schools. Matthew Philips is a senior writing about football. He is also a former lifestyle editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Catch or No Catch,” runs every other Tuesday. As a college transfer myself, the pursuit of a better situation than the one you chose originally is near and dear to my heart. Again, there’s no guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for in a new environment. In fact, it might even be worse, and there’s just no way to find out until it’s too late. Burrow’s first year in Baton Rouge was a moderate success; he was a key offensive player for a team that won the Fiesta Bowl. But this year, Burrow has been simply unstoppable through the air, throwing for more than 300 yards in six of his eight games. If LSU stays undefeated, or if Burrow keeps up his production, the Heisman Trophy is his — plain and simple. Burrow, however, is the most compelling of the three. After riding the bench for two years at Ohio State behind former quarterback J.T. Barrett, Burrow battled Haskins for the starting job. After learning that Haskins would start, Burrow transferred to LSU in May 2018. Sometimes, the grass actually is greener on the other side. Just ask Hurts — he’s waited a long time for an opportunity like this. That’s why it’s always heartwarming to see transfers balling out on their new teams. For a select few players, transferring can be the opportunity that changes the trajectory of an entire career. For others, it’s a second chance to prove one’s talents in the game they love. Fields transferred to Ohio State in the spring following the departure of current Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Thus far, he’s been nothing short of electric for the undefeated Buckeyes, throwing 22 touchdowns and rushing for another eight. On the whole, administrators and NCAA rulemakers are slowly accepting the notion of a player leaving their school for another in college football (and basketball for that matter). This spring, the NCAA loosened many of its regulations against transfers playing immediately for their new schools. Fields was one of the most highly rated recruits ever coming out of high school, and he committed to his hometown Georgia Bulldogs at the beginning of his senior year with the impression that he’d be able to compete with then-sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm for the starting job in 2018. Even after Fromm won the job, Fields believed he’d receive significant snaps throughout the season. In reality, Fields never had a real chance to dethrone Fromm, and the offense used his talents sparingly, if ever. Sometimes a change in scenery is what an athlete needs to reach their full potential. We’ve seen it time and time again in professional sports — Randy Moss solidifies himself as a Hall of Famer on the Patriots; LeBron James wins his first championship in Miami; James Harden becomes an MVP-caliber player in Houston. However, leaving one program for another is still considered somewhat taboo at the college level, and this comes at the expense of the players.
While a healthy Gonzalez may not wow anyone, consider this: He has made 30 or more starts in eight of his last nine big league seasons and posted a FIP over 4.00 in that span just once. His ERA+ over that span is 117. That’s pretty, pretty good.The fact that more teams aren’t in on Gonzalez — let alone that he is still a free agent — is surprising, to say the least. If the Yankees want to plug the hole quickly and get some stability in their rotation, Gonzalez should be the guy.But, hey, I’m not the GM. “Luis Severi-oh-no!”That was the collective cry of Yankees fans Tuesday when news broke that Severino was broken — at least partially, with a bum rotator cuff, an injury that will keep him out for at least a month. A friendly reminder: Divisions aren’t won in March and April, but they can certainly be lost. Severino being out for a period of time, even for a week or two of the regular season, raises lots of questions and a fair bit of concern now and moving forward.FANTASY SOURCE: SP rankings for 2019 The Yankees’ No. 1 starter faltered in the second half last year, and after news of this injury, the Yankees and their fans are allowed to feel a bit uneasy about what’s to come with a hole in their rotation.What, then, should the Bombers do?Sign a guyAs of this publishing, there were more arms available on the market than there were people on Twitter mad at me for not ever having watched “Game of Thrones.” That may be slight hyperbole, but look at the names: Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez, James Shields, Edwin Jackson.Sure, some options are more attractive than others, but we’re not talking about replacing a No. 1 for the duration of the season, just for a few weeks of the season — maybe.MORE: Keuchel not panicking about being unsignedThe fact Keuchel and Gonzalez are still free agents is pretty surprising. They may not be what they were three or four seasons ago, but both had decent seasons in 2018:Keuchel (Astros): 34 starts, 204 2/3 innings, 3.74 ERA (3.69 FIP), 2.65 K:BB ratioGonzalez (Nationals and Brewers combined): 27 starts, 171 innings, 4.21 ERA (4.16 FIP), 1.85 K:BB ratioGonzalez, in fact, turned his season around after arriving in Milwaukee, pitching to a 2.13 ERA and a sub-1.000 WHIP in five starts, so there may be something left in the tank after a rough go with Washington. Both pitchers left-handed (who couldn’t use more lefties?) and neither one has a foot in the grave — Keuchel is 31, Gonzalez 33. Even with the acquisition of James Paxton, the Bombers could use rotation more help, given CC Sabathia’s injury history and the team’s current lack of depth.The danger here is that neither one will be ready for the first week of the regular season — some very smart people suggest that they would likely need extra time in extended spring training to get right. Both represent a long-term solution to a (potentially) short-term problem, but the window is open now, so why not go for it?Trade for a guyPulling off a trade at this time of year would represent some good, spicy content, but it could be a possibility.Rumors persist that Madison Bumgarner is on the market, and with the Giants looking more like a rebuilding team, would it be worth it for Brian Cashman to make a call now? Bumgarner’s velocity has been up through the early part of the spring, so reports of his demise would seem to be greatly exaggerated.MORE: Yankees’ GM ‘closing the chapter’ on Harper, MachadoWhat about a guy like Zack Greinke, whom the Diamondbacks are more desperate to get rid of than a zit on prom night? Sure, a deal might take from the organization’s last bit of farm system depth, but what could it hurt? Trading for a known quantity at this point would probably be safer than signing a guy off the street. The likelihood of pulling off either type of move is pretty unrealistic right now, however.Try a guyThe Yanks have plenty of guys to try. Last year, they tried multiple guys, with varying degrees of success.Jonathan Loaisiga, the team’s top-ranked pitching prospect, and Domingo German both pitched relatively well when called upon. Loaisiga pitched to a 3.00 ERA across four starts before suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined him for two months, then pitched out of the ‘pen with mixed results at the end of the season. German scuffled, but he also showed flashes of being a decent back-end starter. Chance Adams, long a talked-about prospect, might finally get a look, but frankly, if it hasn’t happened for him at the major league level yet, it probably won’t happen in 2019 as a rotation reinforcement.The Yankees can’t necessarily afford to turn the clock back to early 2000s Nickelodeon and play “Figure It Out” while they’re in a pennant race this summer, especially with the reigning, defending World Series champion Red Sox and the pesky Rays in the division. You can’t expect perfect health for the duration of the season, just like you can’t expect prospects to figure it out at the major league level for X amount of starts.VerdictIt’s not my money, but I’d spend it faster than a rapper in a jewelry shop.Winning a World Series is hard. A lot has to go right, and that starts with pitching. You can poke holes in the Yankees’ rotation for days, with health being concern numero uno.