UNI and NDSU transfer trend for top Missouri Valley football teams
The Michigan state transfer is poised to be more the norm in the Missouri Valley Football Conference than the exception. Four of the league’s five undefeated teams have freshman starting quarterbacks who transferred from an FBS school to NCAA Division I.
Quincy Patterson (Virginia Tech) gave North Dakota State a 4-0 start. Jason Shelley (Utah State) took over at Missouri State, which is 2-0 in the league and 3-1 overall. South Dakota State is perhaps the best team in the FCS behind Chris Oladokun, a transfer who started his career in South Florida.
Day went UNI at 3-1 on aggregate before a showdown at NDSU on Saturday afternoon at Gate City Bank Field in the Fargodome. He completed 35 of 58 passes with five touchdowns against two interceptions.
“I think overall most schools only give a quarterback a scholarship, but you can only play one,” NDSU head coach Matt Entz said. “So you end up with four or five on your list. Well everyone wants to play. It is the most selective of the positions that people recruit.
Entz estimates that there are 30 scholarship quarterbacks in the Midwest, and that includes the Big Ten Conference, FCS, and Division II schools. He estimates that there are 1,000 high school quarters in the overall footprint.
“Not many people become scholarship recipients at the college level,” Entz said. “So I think there is a surplus of children who want to play. Competitiveness comes out. I know sometimes we want to say it’s selfishness, but at the same time these guys want to play and find situations that are good for them or maybe a clearer path to get on the pitch.
This was the case with Patterson, who was a backup at Virginia Tech. He was solid at NDSU completing 26 of 42 assists. His running ability allowed the Bison to beat the University of North Dakota last week in a 16-10 victory.
Day, 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, was ranked Michigan State’s top quarterback prospect by a few media outlets, including ESPN.com in 2017. He has rarely seen the Michigan State field appear in two games on three. years.
“He moves well,” Entz said. “He can extend games, he can scramble, I think they can use it in a racing game. I just think he’s a real solid football player.
UNI head coach Mark Farley at his Monday press conference said Patterson and Day had come to their respective schools on similar paths. Farley called Patterson very athletic with a big arm.
“He’s probably a lot like Theo when it comes to learning offense and learning from his teammates,” said Farley.
Oladokun was the best of the transfer quarterback, completing 50 of 80 passes for 721 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry with another touchdown.
Missouri State has had questions about the quarterback for the past few years. Shelley has already been the answer, throwing over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns against an interception.
FBS transfers aren’t new to FCS schools, but the advent of the NCAA transfer portal has certainly made mobile schools more fashionable. UNI started this season with two-year-old starter Will McElvain. Only southern Illinois, at 2-0 in the league, has a returning starter to quarterback Nik Baker. But the Salukis also have the University of Cincinnati transferring Michael Lindauer to their roster.
Both teams also took the portal route for a running back. NDSU got TaMerik Williams from SMU and Dom Williams, the leading rusher at UNI, transferred from Kansas.
“So that we can go find a running back and a quarterback who can continue to help you, kudos to them,” Entz said. “You still have to find the right people. I would expect Coach Farley to say the portal is here; either try to put your head in the sand and say it doesn’t exist, or you try to find ways to use it to help your program. I guess it’s the latter who knows him. If I can’t fight to win, make sure it can help us.
Entz said there had been no health update from center Jalen Sundell, who left the UND game with apparent knee disease. Defensive end Brayden Thomas suffered an apparent arm injury but remained in the game.