Bo Pelini issued a statement this evening announcing that quarterback Patrick Witt is transferring from Nebraska at the end of the spring semester. Witt has a 4.0 GPA so far, though it's not clear whether he's leaving Nebraska to pursue academics or to further his football career elsewhere.
I have mixed feelings about Witt's departure. I've felt Witt was a special leader; the type of player who brings maturity to the football field. But by that same measure, I'm not sure Witt fit the blueprint for what Pelini wants from his quarterback. By all accounts, Pelini is looking for a mobile quarterback, and Witt is more of a pocket passer. A good fit for the Nebraska offense when he was recruited, but now a bit of an odd fit compared with Zac Lee and Cody Green.
I'm not going to hold Witt's fumble in the Gator Bowl against him; he came in cold in a rough situation. The Clemson defense knew it too; 3rd and long with a quarterback seeing his first meaningful action. They were gunning for him, and went for the strip.
Since Witt redshirted in 2007, he'll lose a season of eligibility if he transfers to a division 1-A school, leaving him able to play as a junior. With his academic record, perhaps he'll head to an Ivy League school, like his brother who played for Harvard. Since those schools are 1-AA, he'd be eligible immediately. Though since he won't leave Lincoln until the end of the semester, he'd have limited time to adapt to a new system this fall. Who knows, maybe he'll concentrate on his academics. I wish him the best; there's no need to rush this decision. It seems odd, though, to do it a month into the semester, and still a month away from the start of spring practice.
Development of a quarterback now becomes an even greater priority this spring. Zac Lee will be a junior, but only has taken a handful of snaps (all at the end of the game). He did have an outstanding freshman season at the City College of San Francisco. Cody Green comes in with high expectations from his high school senior season last fall. The unknown is Kody Spano, who redshirted this fall after arriving last January.
Going into spring practice, I really wasn't sure where Nebraska was going to go for a quarterback. I had it about 34% Witt, 33% Lee, 20% Green, 10% chance of alternating quarterbacks, and 3% Spano. The only reason why Witt was ahead was simply because he edged out Lee this season. Obviously, the race now opens up. Lee is probably a slight favorite going into spring practice, but that's it.