There are 130 programs at the FBS level of college football.
At some point in calendar year 2021, the names of 138 FBS quarterbacks have been on the list of restless, disgruntled athletes who couldn’t get on the field at one school and hope to do so at another.
When University of Tulsa fans attend Saturday’s 11 a.m. Golden Hurricane spring game at H.A. Chapman Stadium, they should add a little extra pop in their applause for Davis Brin.
Considering the frequency with which QBs dive into the portal, it’s somewhat miraculous that the talented Brin still is on the Tulsa football roster. He’s been waiting three years for his chance to run Philip Montgomery’s offense.
Everyone saw what he did on Nov. 19. A performance for the ages, I wrote that night.
When the Tulane-Tulsa game began, Brin was the Hurricane’s No. 3 QB. After Hurricane starter Zach Smith and backup Seth Boomer sustained injuries, and as Tulsa had a 14-0, fourth-quarter deficit, Brin jogged in from the bullpen and dazzled a national television audience.
In slightly more than one quarter of play, along with an overtime period, Brin was 18-of-28 passing for 266 yards and two scores. On the final play of the fourth quarter, he found JuanCarlos Santana for a 37-yard touchdown pass. That play pushed the game to overtime. Linebacker Zaven Collins’ touchdown — on a 96-yard interception return — ended a 30-24 Tulsa victory.
Like a comet, Brin was brilliant and then disappeared.
Back to the bench. He didn’t take a snap in any of Tulsa’s final three games.
Brin has the makings of a very, very nice quarterback of the future, I wrote after the Tulane game, and on Tuesday I was at H.A. Chapman Stadium to watch a Hurricane practice session.
If anything, I now feel more confident that Brin will flourish in 2021 than I felt while watching the Tulane classic.
In spite of a strong south wind that ranged from disruptive to ridiculous, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Brin threw strikes all day. He has not been declared the 2021 starter by Montgomery, but Brin has taken the majority of first-team reps during the spring.
There is competition at the quarterback position. Boomer started in eight games in 2018, and in 2019 he came off the bench to lead Tulsa to an upset of UCF.
As TU nears the spring-practice finish line, however, it looks like the starter’s role is Brin’s to lose.
Now a fourth-year junior from Boerne, Texas, in the San Antonio area, Brin is on the Dane Evans level of arm ability and seems to have mastered every throw. On a deep-ball connection with Sam Crawford Jr., the football didn’t flutter one bit.
In spite of the loss of Collins to the NFL draft, the 2021 Hurricane defense appears to once again have playmakers at all three levels. For the fourth consecutive season, TU’s defense should be among the better units in the American Athletic Conference.
Montgomery’s run game should be potent. TU is loaded with quality receivers. If Brin is what I believe him to be — TU’s best QB since Evans in 2016 — Montgomery takes a complete team into a September schedule that includes back-to-back trips to Oklahoma State and Ohio State.
Kyler Murray, Brandon Weeden and David Johnson: These masters of patience command a special place in the memories of Oklahoma football fans.
In 2018, after having not been an every-game starter since his 2014 high school senior season, and after having been Baker Mayfield’s backup for two years, Kyler Murray completed 69% of his passes, rushed for 1,001 yards, led OU to the Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff appearance, and won the Heisman Trophy.
In 2007-09, anyone who attended an Oklahoma State practice session would marvel at Brandon Weeden’s arm talent, and yet he did not become the Cowboys’ starting quarterback until 2010.
In two seasons as the starter and the best QB in program history, Weeden broke every significant OSU passing record. He drove the Cowboys to a 26-3 record and the 2011 Big 12 championship.
And then there was David Johnson, who in 2004-07 was a University of Tulsa backup quarterback. As he watched from the sideline, Paul Smith became the program’s most prolific passer.
At the time, there were probably 40 major-college teams for which Johnson would have been the best QB on the roster, but he remained loyal to TU.
In 2008 — his only season as the No. 1 guy — Johnson passed for 4,059 yards and 46 touchdowns. He was the MVP of an 11-win Hurricane squad.
Within the Hurricane program, there should be a David Johnson Award given to a veteran player who waited and waited, and then excelled when he got his shot.
If the TU people hustle and get a trophy designed and made, the inaugural winner of the David Johnson Award could be the gifted and patient Davis Brin.
As 138 other quarterbacks sought the portal, he waited and waited, he developed, he improved and now has positioned himself for a possibly special run with the Hurricane.