Jan 13 / Todd

Georgia Tech Starting QB Transferring to JMU

The scuttlebutt Rob wrote about a couple of weeks ago came through today when it was announced that Vad Lee, the starting QB at Georgia Tech this past season, has transferred to JMU to play for Coach Withers and the Dukes.  There are multiple angles from which to analyze this, most obviously what it means for Michael Birdsong moving forward but to suggest the infusion of a clearly established BCS-level talent isn’t a positive for JMU is just crazy-talk.  Last year the Dukes had exactly zero QB’s on the bench that anyone felt comfortable with in the event the GingaNinja went down for any extended stretch.  So long as both guys get a fair shot and the best guy plays, it should be a huge positive for JMU to have two very capable QB’s.

On the Birdsong front, we’ve loved the kid and he’s proven to be tough and a decent team leader, but let’s be clear.  The “record-setting” year he had last year was in part a product of former OC Mike O’Cain’s more modern offense replacing Mickey’s sputtering run-run-penalty-run offense.  And for those that have been following the program for a while, the Ginger Giant hasn’t even reached Matt LeZotte status.  If you’ll recall, LeZotte was a redshirt senior when he was forced to the bench by the transfer in of Justin Riscati from Louisville.  That worked out pretty well.  No matter what, we’re rootin’ for both guys to play great and we’ll know if Birdsong wins the job, he will really have earned it now.

090113_Vad_Lee_JC1Lee’s decision raises more questions for us.  Obviously it’s a nice statement for Withers out of the gate. And it does seem Lee wants a chance to play in an offense that would give him a chance to not only run, but also showcase his all-around game and passing ability, and was stuck in a bit of a dead-end situation if he has further football aspirations running the pure triple-option under Coach Paul Johnson as a Yellow Jacket.  But a couple of things seem curious.  First, with Birdsong here it seems highly unlikely that he was promised a starting spot or that such a spot is a sure thing in a competition with a still relatively young starter in place.  But second, the thing that’s really not sitting well with us is you’ve got to wonder if he’d really want to transfer to a program that may have very little opportunity for postseason play at either level if it changes classification this spring.  In other words, would you want to spend your final two seasons in transitional years with no playoffs or bowls?  We certainly hope he wasn’t told the playoffs are likely this year because JMU isn’t moving. That said, it’s important to note that he had to transfer down to FCS if he wanted to play right away so it’s not like a move to another FBS school would have been nearly as appealing.  And who knows, we can all hope he’ll play his senior year as an FBS-transitional school no matter what!

In any case, getting a starting QB to transfer from a successful ACC program is no small thing and provides the Dukes with a hugely solidified situation under center and we can’t wait to see the competition hopefully bring out the best in both young men!  Also, signing day’s around the corner now and we can only hope this is a sign of things to come.



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  1. Kevin / Jan 14 2014

    Your concerns over his decision to transfer and what it means for JMU declaring an intention to move echo mine exactly. This was not my immediate reaction to the news yesterday, but a very close secondary reaction and for me, kinda takes some of the shine off of the apple. Like you said, I just don’t see how a guy with 2 years of eligibility remaining transfers to a school that is ready to declare an intent to move up to the next level and set himself up to be onboard only through transition.

  2. Tim / Jan 14 2014

    At first I was pretty excited about getting a starting QB from an established program. However, after doing some research, my enthusiasm has waned a bit. His numbers at GT aren’t exactly eye popping. He has a career completion percentage of less than 50% and a TD/INT split of 15/13. Even as rusher he averaged less than 3 yds/carry on over 180 carries. (http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/517034/vad-lee).

    Also, reading some of the comments on ESPN and the Georgia Tech SB Nation site, fans didn’t really seem disappointed to seem him go. They suggested that, despite having the offense tailored to his strengths, he never really bought in to it and wanted to transfer from Day 1 as a freshman.

    However, that being said, I’m still going to root for him and wish him the best. I trust that Coach Withers will give him all the tools to succeed and compete with Birdsong for the starting job.

  3. Tidewater Duke / Jan 14 2014

    Who knows why a 20 year old kid does things? Maybe he just likes purple and gold instead of blue and gold, or maybe he doesn’t like Paul Johnson, or maybe what he says is the truth. “the triple option is not really my thing.’ I would not try to read too much into the why, but just be glad he is coming. Birdsong has taken a very good attitude about the situation, you can’t be afraid of competition. Last year everyone was holding their breath every time the QB ran. Now it appears we have two quality QBs. I don’t see any downside to this.

  4. bulldogg / Jan 14 2014

    Birdsong is already a record-setting QB at JMU, and by graduation should own nearly all of the passing records. It’s good that he has competition. It’s good that we have some depth at the position. Quarterback controversies are destructive and I hope we don’t wind up with one. Like Tim, I found Vad’s stats underwhelming. His pedigree may carry a little weight, but I don’t see him taking the job of a QB who played hurt nearly the entire season last year and still performed commendably. With a healthy shoulder this season, Birdsong is going to be a force to reckon with!

  5. Rob / Jan 14 2014

    I think it is great to have two options at QB but at the same time I wonder how dangerous this can be to, essentially, a rookie HC. If the team has rallied around Birdsong and they see this as the new HC bringing in his own QB it could cause some dissension in the locker room. I think Withers will have to tread very lightly here because regardless of what you do you will have one QB who will be disappointed.

    Either Birdsong gets the job and Lee is upset that he transferred for nothing. Or Lee gets the job and Birdsong is upset that the new coach brought a guy in to take his job…or we try some dual QB option that rarely seems to work.

  6. JMUPinoy2K12 / Jan 14 2014

    Either way… based on the past, I do hope that Withers sticks with one guy and builds the team around him. The 2 QB platoon system (Thorpe/Dudzik, Thorpe/Birdsong) just does not work and we have all expressed our frustrations over it under Mickey.

    Skip Bayless said it best: “If you have 2 quarterbacks, you have none.”

  7. Rob / Jan 14 2014

    Couple quick points. First of all, this is a good move and relatively low risk in my opinion. Birdsong is tough enough to accept this challenge and not whine about it. My bet is that it motivates him, he wins the job, and plays even better.

    Second of all, Birdsong benefited from O’Cain’s system, but I think plenty of folks downplay his accomplishments. You could make a pretty convincing argument he’s at least reached Lezotte status, and possibly already surpassed him. Even attributing the passing yardage numbers to more attempts, in his first year as a starter Birdsong had a higher yards/attempt and completion percentage than Lezotte had in his 3rd (and best) year as the starting QB. He’s not perfect, but he just had a pretty damn impressive first year as a full time starter.

    Finally, not everything is a indicator of FBS/FCS plans. Withers went out and recruited a player who can provide competition and depth at the QB spot. Maybe Lee just wanted to play football period and he thinks it will be more fun to do so at JMU. I mean, he originally committed to GT, so it seems reasonably playing in big time bowls and competing for championships weren’t too high on his priority list to begin with.

  8. 2004 Duke / Jan 14 2014

    I think everyone might be over analyzing Lee’s basis for his decision. This is the same kid that decided to go play football for Paul Johnson when the tripile option is “not his thing”. His decision making could very well be based on absolutely nothing at all.

    “run-run-penalty-run offense” LOL #truth

  9. Cory / Jan 14 2014

    Seems like just a few months ago everyone was praising The Birdman but now there is a lot of excitement about Vad “The Impaler” Lee. That is a typical fan response to something new and pretty though. As a former player I remember just enjoying the chance to play and enjoy the game. Postseason or not.

  10. jmudad / Jan 14 2014

    Now that VL has committed to JMU, and EW is our new HC, perhaps some of the ‘maybe’ recruits will be inclined to sign up. Should be interesting to watch …

  11. Xerk / Jan 15 2014

    I know playing at Maryland is about money. I get that. But is it too much to ask with a fancy new stadium and a new head coach to have 6 home games?

  12. cbjmuinatl / Jan 15 2014

    Lee wanted to be in a different style of offense and I guess he finally figured out GT wasn’t what he wanted. He didn’t leave for playing time
    Perhaps if Vad wins the starting job, Birdsong could take his redshirt year and still have one year left after Lee is gone?

  13. ck / Jan 15 2014

    Competition is always good. Also, hate to nit pick, but it’s Rascati (not Riscati). Great leader, also a nice dude on campus. Love the LeZotte references too, another great guy and handled that demotion with class.

  14. 2004 Duke / Jan 16 2014

    I don’t see what the big deal is about the 2014 schedule. It’s the same shitty schedule we always play. Actually…it’s better because Lehigh and Elon are decent opponents, as opposed to the scrub we’ve been playing (Looking at you, CCSU)

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