It’s the era of the transfer portal in College Football, and UCLA could be primed for a big addition to the QB room if things go their way. Former UCF QB Dillon Gabriel recently put his name in the transfer portal and was spotted at UCLA talking to Chip Kelly just a few days ago. Furthermore, 247 Sports’s “Transfer Portal Crystal Ball” currently has all three of their lead experts predicting that Gabriel ends up at UCLA, although Ole Miss and Oklahoma could also be in the mix. But should Gabriel end up at UCLA, what kind of player is he, and how might he contribute to this Bruins team?
In short, Dillon Gabriel was a really good, really productive quarterback at UCF. Ever since Scott Frost turned that program around to go undefeated in 2017, UCF has been one of the more entertaining, high-flying passing attacks in the country. It started with McKenzie Milton, who went undefeated as a starter from 2017-2018 before Gabriel took over the mantle starting in 2019 and didn’t miss a beat.
In three years at UCF (Dillon only started three games last year before missing the rest of the season due to injury), Gabriel threw for 8,041 yards and 70 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions. His yards per attempt was a very good 8.8, but his adjusted yards per attempt was even higher at 9.7. He also finished his career with 372 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns on the ground. 247 Sports currently has Gabriel ranked as the second-best QB in the transfer portal.
Gabriel was only a three-star prospect coming out of high school, likely due to being a bit undersized at 5’11 and 186 pounds. But like Milton before him, Gabriel was able to thrive in UCF’s spread passing attack by being smart, accurate, a quick decision-maker, and an excellent deep-ball thrower. He was the point guard for that offense, and he ran it beautifully.
So what does this all mean for UCLA? The Bruins are currently in a bit of a transition period with so many seniors graduating, and part of that is also due to the uncertainty surrounding QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Although DTR was from the class of 2018, he has an extra year of eligibility due to last year’s covid season, so he could return to UCLA if he wants to. He’s coming off what was most likely his best season as a starter, and he would most likely be the favorite to start if he were to return. Or, he could try his luck at the NFL. I personally don’t think DTR is an NFL quarterback, but maybe he would like his odds better this year due to the unusually weak class of QBs.
Regardless of what happens with DTR, Gabriel would add some needed depth to the Bruins QB room. UCLA just lost Parker McQuarrie and Kajiya Hollawayne to the transfer portal, leaving just Ethan Garbers and Chase Griffin at the moment. Garbers has the more prototypical size for the position compared to Gabriel, but Gabriel has more experience and is likely a bit more polished. I think both are good options, and I would ultimately be fine letting them battle it out in training camp. Let’s also not forget that DTR has an injury history. Even if he were to come back to UCLA, it’s not unlikely that backups would end up getting some playing time.
At the end of the day, you can never have too many quarterbacks in this sport. The acquisition of Dillon Gabriel to UCLA via the transfer portal would add talent and experience to the QB room, and that would be a good thing.