Texas State Bobcats quarterback TJ Finley initially announced he’d return to the team for the 2024 campaign. However, after former Arizona Wildcats QB Jayden de Laura committed to G.J. Kinne’s team, Finley put his name into the transfer portal. Looking for his fourth collegiate program in five years, where will Finley line up under center next season?
Landing Spots for TJ Finley
Texas State’s 2023 starter reportedly only knew about de Laura’s commitment once it was announced, causing his change of heart.
As a 2020 recruit, Finley signed with the LSU Tigers and started five games out of the gates, completing 57% of his passes for 941 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions. Yet, when the coaching staff handed the reigns to Max Johnson, Finley hit the portal for the first time.
The Auburn Tigers earned his services, and Finley began the 2021 season second on the depth chart behind Bo Nix. He saw playing time in nine games (four games with 10+ attempts), completing 70 of 128 passes for 827 yards, six TDs, and one INT.
With Nix out of town, 2022 was supposed to be Finley’s breaking-out party, as he was named the starter in late August. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury cut his season short, and he re-entered the transfer portal after head coach Bryan Harsin was fired midseason.
Finley’s recruiting was relatively quiet from a Power Five perspective, but the Ohio State Buckeyes showed interest in May 2023. Yet, nothing materialized, and the 6’7″ passer ultimately joined Kinne for his first year as head coach at Texas State.
The marriage proved fruitful for both parties, as Finley erupted for 3,439 yards and 24 TDs against just eight INTs while completing 67% of his passes. Meanwhile, the Bobcats posted their best record in school history (8-5) and won their first bowl game (First Responder Bowl vs. Rice).
Nevertheless, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and following the arrival of de Laura, Finley is ready to hit the open market again. A transfer portal veteran, he still has two years of eligibility remaining as a redshirt junior.
Plenty of teams could use QB reinforcements, and with most transfer QBs already finding their next stops, Finley could be a hot commodity.
There is a lot of uncertainty for the Michigan Wolverines following their National Championship victory.
Will head coach Jim Harbaugh leave for the NFL, or is he just using the interest as leverage for a new contract? Who knows, but it makes for a murky outlook.
J.J. McCarthy has declared for the draft, leaving the Wolverines with recently signed four-star QB Jadyn Davis, Jayden Denegal (JR), Alex Orji (JR), and Davis Warren (SR) on the depth chart. That group is lacking any real collegiate experience — something Finley more than makes up for.
There has been a mass exodus out of Ann Arbor, but Donovan Edwards is still in the backfield, and the Big Ten powerhouse has the talent to reload.
Speaking of a mass exodus … the Huskies have lost QBs Will Rogers, Dylan Morris, Austin Mack, and William Haskell to the portal since mid-December. It’s safe to say they badly need bodies in the QB room. Kalen DeBoer and Ryan Grubb are out, and Jedd Fisch and Co. are in, meaning offense is still the name of the game in Seattle.
Finley has the arm to hit every throw on the field and enough athleticism to maneuver in and out of the pocket — that’s a profile Fisch can work with at the helm of his offense.
There’s a nonzero chance Finley returns to Auburn after spending just one season away. Hugh Freeze needs a quarterback he can win with, or his time with the Tigers will be shorter than Finley’s first stint was.
Freeze made a name for himself as a creative and efficient play-caller at his previous three stops (Arkansas State, Ole Miss, and Liberty) but hired OC Philip Montgomery to do the job last season.
Well, Montogmery is already out, and Freeze announced he’ll call plays for the Tigers’ offense next year.
Finley is an improved QB from the last time he donned orange and blue, and the need to perform from both sides could lead to a resurgence in the SEC.
KJ Jefferson is transferring to UCF, leaving the Arkansas Razorbacks with a gaping hole at QB. Former Boise State Broncos signal-caller Taylen Green has committed to the Razorbacks, but he’s the only one standing in the way of Finley earning a starting role on a third SEC team.
Sam Pittman desperately needs a winning campaign on the heels of back-to-back-to-back declining seasons (9-4, 7-6, and 4-8). Finley may not be the answer by himself, but he could be a piece of the puzzle.
Grambling State Tigers
Succeeding a breakout campaign at a Group of Five program, it’s hard to imagine Finley leaving for an FCS school, but there’s a reason for my madness. Mickey Joseph was just announced as Grambling State’s next head coach.
Why is this relevant? Joseph formed a bond with Finley while recruiting him to LSU as the team’s WRs coach.
Of course, their bond may have eroded in the years since their shared time in the bayou, but Joseph is returning to his home state to help revitalize an HBCU program — as a Lousiana native himself, and with two kids in tow, trailing the veteran coach could be appealing to Finley.
The Tigers have a QB with potential in Myles Crawley, but there is no denying Finley is the better player at the moment.
Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football’s transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!