The 2024 season was quite a year in college football for starting quarterbacks, especially those who had previously transferred. In fact, three of the Heisman Trophy finalists were quarterbacks who had all transferred from a previous school, namely Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, and winner Jayden Daniels.

With that said, we've seen the effects the transfer portal can have on quarterbacks finding new teams, not to mention those with extensive experience. The 2024 transfer portal had north of 150 quarterbacks that entered the portal, with some of those being notable names, while others could be in the future. All those who did find new homes elsewhere are hoping now that they can be the next Penix, leading their team to a conference championship and maybe even a College Football Playoff berth, and in doing so, make themselves a Heisman candidate.

We now take a look at seven transfer quarterback candidates who could make a name for themselves similar to Michael Penix Jr. last year, in the 2024 college football season, like Miami football's new quarterback, Cameron Ward.

Cameron Ward – Miami Hurricanes

Cameron Ward, Miami quarterback

Ward comes out of the portal into the Miami football program as the No. 4 ranked quarterback transfer. The former Washington State quarterback was originally headed to the NFL until the Hurricanes and Mario Cristobal were able to lure him back down to South Beach for his final season of eligibility.

Ward should be a dynamic difference-maker for Miami in 2024. Now being under the spotlight in the ACC with what should be a better rostered team, Ward could easily find himself in the Heisman race if he can lead Miami back to prominence.

Graham Mertz – Florida Gators

We can't exclude one of last year's transfers in former Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz. All things considered, Mertz had the most productive year of his career as a Gator, until he got hurt later in the season. His attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, all skyrocketed in 2023, per Sports-Reference. Perhaps another year of that and some added additions to the offense, and Mertz could be the surprise quarterback of the league next year like Penix was last year.

Shedeur Sanders – Colorado

Colorado Buffaloes, Shedeur Sanders

Speaking of last year's transfers, who can forget about Colorado's Shedeur Sanders? He already believes he'll be one of the best quarterbacks next season to enter the NFL Draft, so that means he should be one of the top quarterbacks in college football next season. That, of course, all relies on the Buffaloes' revamped offensive line, via the transfer portal, and if they can protect him. We've seen Sanders' skills on display, so this wouldn't be too shocking to see.

Riley Leonard – Notre Dame

Marcus Freeman once again plucked away an ACC quarterback to be his starter for the Fighting Irish next season. And he might have gotten one of the best ones. Leonard is a dual-threat quarterback who in 2022 accounted for 31 total scores. He suffered from injuries in 2023, which depleted his numbers. But if healthy in 2024, he could be one of the best portal pickups and help Notre Dame get to the playoff.

Dillon Gabriel – Oregon

One of the first big transfer portal moves during this cycle was Dillon Gabriel moving to Eugene to become the Ducks' next starting quarterback. For head coach Dan Lanning, this might be one of the easiest quarterback transitions for a coach who has to replace someone like Bo Nix. This will be Gabriel's third and final school, coming from UCF first, then from Oklahoma last year, where he was nothing but successful. Gabriel wouldn't be the surprise like Penix was necessarily, but as a transfer who could catapult his team to the next level, that's very fitting for the quarterback.

Grayson McCall – NC State

Grayson McCall comes to NC State as one of the most decorated Sun Belt players in recent memory. He's a former three-time Sun Belt Player of the Year as well as three-time first-team All Sun Belt player. An injury-plagued year hampered his production in 2023, but shouldn't worry Wolfpack fans. McCall, at 23, definitely fits the bill of someone with a lot of experience, starting four years at Coastal Carolina. He now will start for one of the most underrated teams in the ACC if not the country in NC State.

Tyler Van Dyke – Wisconsin

Tyler Van Dyke has to be looking at Penix's career, that started injury-filled at Indiana and ended at Washington, and hoping he can do the same. Van Dyke started at Miami as extremely promising, with tons of hype after his freshman season. He has skills that NFL scouts would truly love. But he's also been plagued not just by injuries but also turnovers. You could argue if not for his 12 interceptions, Miami could have won a lot more games. Looking for a reset and new scenery with the Badgers, all under head coach Luke Fickell, could make Van Dyke a new quarterback, one that surprises the nation.

DJ Uiagalelei – Florida State

After leaving Clemson for Oregon State under Jonathan Smith, DJ Uiagalelei made great strides as a quarterback. But he still failed to live up to the potential that most had for him going back to his days as a starter for Clemson. In fact, his completion percentage actually dropped from 62.1 percent in his final season with the Tigers to 57.1 last season with the Beavers. Could his final season with Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell finally cause him to have a breakout season? Uiagalelei is probably the least likely on this list to achieve anything close to what Penix did last season. But again, being under Norvell and with the Florida State talent around him makes him an addition to this list.