In transferring to Auburn from Florida, Mike Blakely has taken a path well traveled.
Sometimes a change of scenery does all of us some good, particularly if you play college football.
The results of changing one’s college residence are often positive, though perhaps not as significant as a player had hoped.
Most opt for another school because of playing time, but there can be other reasons too complex to decipher. In the end, it comes down to being unhappy and most college football coaches don’t have the time to dissect the reasons.
The last celebrated running back from Manatee County to transfer was Dyral McMillan, who went to Miami in 1995 amid talk that he was the best ball carrier Southeast High ever produced.
Things didn’t work out at “The U,” and McMillan came home to the University of South Florida, then a fledging I-AA program.
McMillan played two years for USF and ranks first in yards per carry (with a minimum of 225 carries) with a 5.8 average. His 258 yards rushing against New Haven in 1999 is second all time in the program, and he is one of only two running backs to go over 1,000 yards in a season for the Bulls.
McMillan led the Canes in rushing in 1996, but sat out the next season because of an injury. He was replaced by Edgerrin James, who took his job and went to star in the NFL.
McMillan was despondent his first year at USF and struggled, but got himself together and had a productive senior season, though he wasn’t selected in the NFL Draft.
Blakely’s coach at Manatee, the legendary Joe Kinnan, knows personally that sometimes a certain school just isn’t the right fit. He signed with Duke out of Manatee High, spent two years there and transferred to Florida State, where his career flourished.
Two of Manatee High’s most successful junior college transfers were defensive backs Randy Kelly, who started two years at Arkansas, and Alvoid Mays, who went to West Virginia and played six years in the NFL.
Southeast receiver Travis Garvin went to Missouri and transferred to West Virginia, where he had a good career that fell short of expectations because of personal troubles.
Most recently, Palmetto’s Mistral Raymond turned himself into a sixth-round NFL pick this year after walking on at USF following junior college, while another former Tiger, Joe Hills, left South Carolina for I-AA Tennessee State and appears to be in position to get a legitimate shot in the NFL.
Best transfer runner
College football’s most successful transfer running back?
A strong case could be made for Army’s Doc Blanchard, part of the Mr. Inside-Mr. Outside tandem at Army with Glenn Davis in the 1940s.
He first enrolled at North Carolina and then went to West Point after he reportedly was turned down by the Navy for being overweight and having a vision problem.
Blanchard didn’t lose a game at West Point (27-0-1), was the first junior to win the Heisman Trophy and led Army to three national championships. He also kicked, punted and played linebacker. Can any transfer top that?
QBs on the move
Troy Aikman went from Oklahoma to UCLA, where he turned himself into the first pick in the 1989 NFL draft.
Ryan Mallett went to Michigan, had solid freshman year, then bolted for Arkansas after Wolverines new head coach Rich Rodriguez came to install the spread offense. He was taken in the third round of this year’s NFL draft by the New England Patriots, and Rodriguez was fired.
Joe Flacco couldn’t win the starting job at Pittsburgh, transferred to I-AA Delaware and became 18th overall pick in the ’08 NFL draft.
Matt Simms (quarterback) went from Louisville to El Camino College to Tennessee, where he lost the starting job at the end of the 2010 season. What’s next?
Jeff George (most notorious transfer and master of broken bridges) dropped in on Purdue, Miami (then backed off after he was not promised the starting job) and Illinois, where he left before his senior year for NFL.
Best transfer in 2000s
Cam Newton started at Florida, went to junior college, then got Heisman Trophy and national championship at Auburn.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 745-2112.