What To Make Of Greyson Lambert's Transfer To Georgia
On Wednesday afternoon, the news broke that Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert would transfer to Georgia following his graduation on July 11. Per the NCAA's graduate transfer rule, Lambert would be available to play right away for the Bulldogs. But what does this mean for UGA and, more specifically, the trio of quarterbacks already duking it out for the starting job?
Upon initially hearing the news, I believed that the coaching staff may have been second-guessing their three potential starters: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta, and Jacob Park. After all, bringing in a quarterback who had actually been demoted to second string on Virginia's depth chart for added competition is hardly a ringing endorsement. Although Lambert has the ideal size for the position -- 6'5", 220 pounds -- he doesn't bring anything to the table that the Bulldogs do not already have.
As a redshirt sophomore last season, Lambert threw for 1,972 yards and only ten touchdowns, while also throwing eleven picks. Now, Virginia's roster can't hold a candle to what the Bulldogs trot out between the hedges, but the poor decision making and inconsistency that Lambert displayed is exactly the problem that Georgia faces with its three hopefuls.
Ramsey has long been considered the front-runner, and may have the most upside of the bunch. As the primary backup for last year's starter, Hutson Mason, Ramsey completed 61.5% of his passes while tossing three touchdowns and two interceptions. When Mason went down in the second quarter of Georgia's bowl game against Louisville, Ramsey stepped in and completed four passes on nine attempts for 51 yards. He also threw an interception on his first pass of the game; a deep pass towards the end-zone on which he failed to put the ball on the receiver's outside shoulder. Ramsey has the size, arm strength and makeup of an SEC quarterback, but sometimes allows the faith he places in his arm to lead him into making ill decisions.
Behind Ramsey is Faton Bauta. Bauta is unquestionably the most athletic of the pack, but has not seen much action since arriving in Athens. Last season, Bauta completed four of his five pass attempts for 48 yards. He also ran the ball for 46 more yards, and two touchdowns. The knock against Bauta is a lack of arm strength, something the Georgia faithful complained about with Mason as well, but teammates have lauded his work ethic and determination. After entering the off-season as the third string quarterback, Bauta has worked his way into a 1B position next to Ramsey.
From the beginning, Georgia's "wild card" at the quarterback position has been Jacob Park. A four-star recruit, Park redshirted last season in order to learn the playbook and develop his skills. Park is able to do a little bit of everything; he has the mobility and pocket presence to be an asset with his legs, the arm strength to throw on the run, and a good command of the game. Entering the spring, if there was a quarterback most capable of seizing the job behind eye-opening play, it was Park. Unfortunately that never occurred, and it appears as though Park has fallen down to third on the depth chart. Once Lambert is caught up on the playbook, Park may even find himself looking up at all three.
None of the quarterbacks has grabbed the starting spot, but Ramsey looks to be the most likely at this point.
This brings me back to my original question: why did Georgia feel the need to bring in Lambert?
The easiest answer, and possibly the correct one, is depth. Georgia's new offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, was forced to start a myriad of quarterbacks while with the St. Louis Rams. If anyone knows the true value of depth at the quarterback position, it is him.
Of course the possibility still remains that one (or more) of the Bulldog's quarterbacks may transfer. Bauta is a recent graduate who could transfer to another school this season and play immediately, and after redshirting last season, Park still has four years of eligibility remaining. He would have to sit out a year, but I hear Colorado State's new head coach is pretty good at developing quarterbacks.
The acquisition of Lambert makes either quarterback's transfer a little more likely, but the possibility was always there that the lowest man on the totem pole would move on. That possibility has as much to do with ego as it does the arrival of Jacob Eason in 2016.
Eason is currently rated the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country, and may be the most talented freshman passer that Georgia has ever seen. Not only does he have the ability to lead the Bulldogs, but Eason has never wavered on his commitment and is also one of the school's most avid recruiters.
Whether Eason is redshirted his freshman season or sees action right away, the likelihood that a player like Park ever sees the field severely diminishes if he doesn't win the starting job this fall. Head coach Mark Richt and Schottenheimer likely realized that possibility, and decided to bring in a player who has experience in case attrition plagues the position.
At first glance, the move is a puzzling one. Lambert doesn't seem like the type of player who makes a team like Georgia immediately better. What he does provide is experience, something none of the other quarterbacks on the roster has en masse. It is probable that Richt and Schottenheimer expect one of their quarterbacks to move on, and sought a player capable of stepping in immediately and providing tutelage for a player like Ramsey or Eason.
And if nobody transfers and Georgia is left with four scholarship quarterbacks? Well, sometimes too many quarterbacks is better than not enough -- just ask coach Schottenheimer.