Photo courtesy of Missouri athletics
The transfer portal gives and it takes away. For Missouri, it took away a two-year starter at quarterback in Connor Bazelak.
Bazelak burst onto the scene in 2020 for Missouri against LSU. He opened eyes with a 406-yard performance with four touchdowns while completing 29 of 34 passes. Bazelak would throw for over 2,300 yards that season, and was eventually named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year.
2021 presented high hopes for Bazelak and Missouri, but they fell well short of those. The Tigers went 6-7, and Bazelak struggled to find consistency at times during the year.
Bazelak, an Ohio native, has officially hit the portal with two years of eligibility left.
Out of high school, Bazelak was one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in the entire country. As a 4-star recruit, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, it was clear that people recognized his potential. However, he played in a wishbone offense at Archbishop Central High School, leaving many unsold on his ability as a passer.
Nonetheless, Bazelak would eventually sign with Missouri, who was then coached by Barry Odom. Bazelak held numerous offers, and some from the SEC like Kentucky. Other offers included Boston College, Pittsburgh and North Carolina.
Even with the lack of passing at the high school level, Missouri was willing to bet on his future. Little did it know, Bazelak would be the starter for two of the three years that he was in Columbia.
It is simple. Bazelak has the ability to make any throw on the field. Whether or not he can make them consistently is the issue. Bazelak certainly has the arm to push the ball down the field vertically.
Thanks to his triple-option days, he is also mobile enough to keep plays alive. When he scrambles, he scrambles to pass.
Perhaps the most impressive thing is his toughness. Against Kentucky this season, Bazelak played on virtually one leg in the fourth quarter and showed no signs of limiting what he was willing to do. While the Tigers lost that game, Bazelak won over a lot of people with his performance and his toughness.
If Bazelak was more consistent, he would be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He has all the tools.
It comes down to consistency. Bazelak will have some games as he did against Kentucky this season, where he completed 34 of 51 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. However, he will also have games as he did against Arkansas, where he completed just 38% of his passes for 65 yards and an interception.
Not all of the quarterback’s struggles are on the quarterback, and we know that. Still, some of them are. Bazelak has the tendency to force some throws and can get a little jittery in the pocket at times.
Bazelak still looks a little raw and needs some development. Having all the tools will not matter if he can’t put it all together.
Potential Landing Spots
Auburn: Whether or not Bazelak can land a Power 5 starting job is yet to be seen. Does he have the ability to start at a high-profile school? Yes, but those schools might prefer a more finished product for a junior quarterback.
One school to watch is Auburn. With Bo Nix transferring, Auburn is down to three scholarship quarterbacks. Thanks to attrition, there is always the chance that number shrinks even more.
Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz also comes from the Bryan Harsin coaching tree. He was the Boise State offensive coordinator in 2015. So the connections are there, and Bazelak would already have a good feel of the offense coming in.
The pressure would not be on Bazelak right away, but Auburn needs another quarterback and could take its chance on a guy, who already has a good feel for the offense.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are gearing up for a College Football Playoff game against Alabama, but their future beyond that game should be in the back of their minds. With Desmond Ridder surely headed to the NFL after this season, Cincinnati will be looking for a new quarterback.
There is always the chance that it turns to someone already on roster, but in the era of the transfer portal, that is starting to become more rare. Bazelak would give Cincinnati a quarterback with two years of starting experience in the SEC.
For Bazelak, Cincinnati would give him a good place to develop. A school that plays lesser competition would surely help Bazelak when it comes to development.
Bazelak is an Ohio native. If he wants to be closer to home and still play at a high level, Cincy is someone to watch.
Other Potential Fits: North Carolina, Boston College, Nebraska, Iowa State
Bazelak has the ability to be a starter at the Power 5 level. But for teams looking to the portal to take a quarterback, they will likely want someone who is more of a sure thing.
Dropping down to the Group of 5 level might be in his best interest. It would take a lot of pressure off him, and give him the chance to develop and build more confidence.