NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington
Getty Images

Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward, rated the top remaining transfer quarterback available in the portal by 247Sports, will instead declare for the 2024 NFL Draft

Ward had a whirlwind career in college football after being plucked from a run-based high school offense at West Columbia (Texas) by then-Incarnate Word coach Eric Morris. Ward immediately proved his worth, though, by pushing out an incumbent starter and winning the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision after averaging 376.7 yards passing per game during the Spring 2021 season. In his first full season as starting quarterback, Ward was named an FCS All-American. 

When Morris left UIW to take the offensive coordinator job at Washington State, Ward followed. He continued to thrive there, throwing for nearly 7,000 yards and 48 touchdowns in two seasons. He emerged as one of the most elusive and creative passers in the sport.

Ward threw for 13,874 yards and 119 touchdowns across his two stops and entered the transfer portal with one year of eligibility remaining as a graduate transfer. However, after repeated conversations with Florida State and Miami, he ultimately opted to declare for the NFL Draft instead. Prior to pulling out, Ward was rated the No. 8 overall player and No. 3 quarterback in the 247Sports transfer rankings. 

NFL Draft stock

Most expected Ward to return to college football in 2024, but his draft stock remains somewhat of an enigma. He ranks as the No. 125 overall player and No. 12 quarterback in the CBS Sports NFL Draft Prospect Rankings. However, at least four signal-callers ahead of him expect to return to college football in 2024. 

Ward should put together strong workouts and an impressive pro day. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds, Ward has the ideal frame for an NFL passer. Many of the questions about Ward will be whether he can unlearn bad habits he developed while playing for inconsistent rosters. Among power quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks, Ward has the second-worst fumble rate in college football. The good news? No. 1 is Caleb Williams, who is on the short list to be the No. 1 pick. 

Impact on transfer QB market

Ward's departure from Washington State was already known, so his declaration does not significantly impact the team. The Cougars have put faith in another Texas high school product in the wake of Ward's departure, John Mateer, a rising sophomore from Little Elm, Texas. Mateer threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns as the primary backup to Ward this past season. 

The bigger impact will be on the transfer carousel. Florida State has reportedly keyed in on former Clemson and Oregon State transfer transfer DJ Uiagalelei with Ward off the board. Miami has focused in on USC transfer Malachi Nelson and Arkansas' KJ Jefferson, per ESPN. Auburn was also mentioned as a potential landing spot, but the Tigers will instead run back Payton Thorne, who threw for 1,755 yards in 13 games.