Quarterback Gunner Cruz, who played sparingly for Washington State during the shortened 2020 football season, has reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal.
The Rivals.com “NCAA Transfer Portal” Twitter account was the first to announce Cruz’s decision, although he has yet to hint at a departure on social media. Cruz, who’ll still be a redshirt freshman this fall, should have four years of eligibility remaining.
Many expected at least one of WSU’s young quarterbacks to leave the program after losing out on the starting job to true freshman Jayden de Laura last fall. De Laura started in all four of the Cougars’ 2020 games and head coach Nick Rolovich beefed up the competition behind center, recently signing Tennessee graduate transfer Jarrett Guarantano, who started 32 games in the SEC over the last four seasons.
During fall camp, Cruz and Cammon Cooper lost a position battle to de Laura, who brought three years of experience in Rolovich’s run-and-shoot offense to Pullman, helping him edge out a pair of older teammates.
Cruz made his college debut in the fourth quarter of WSU’s blowout loss to USC, completing 5 of 7 passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. Both backup QBs took turns behind center in the USC loss, but Cooper seemed to usurp Cruz for the No. 2 job before the season finale at Utah. The redshirt sophomore played in relief of de Laura during a loss to the Utes.
For much of the season, though, Cruz had seemingly taken hold of WSU’s backup job. The Arizona native was prepared to make his first career start at Stanford with de Laura sidelined after a positive COVID-19 test. Due to WSU not meeting the 53-man threshold, the Cougars canceled the road game and de Laura was back on the field by the time they played their next game at USC.
At 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds, Cruz, a former three-star prospect, should gain plenty of interest from Power Five and midmajor programs. Cruz demonstrated elite arm strength, a willingness to take shots downfield and had good mobility for someone his size. Teammates and coaches also spoke highly of the QB’s personality and he appeared to be one of the more well-liked players in WSU’s locker room.
Without Cruz, WSU’s quarterbacks room in 2021 will consist of de Laura, Guarantano, Cooper, walk-on Victor Gabalis and incoming freshman Xavier Ward, a three-star prospect from Southern California. Some have speculated Cooper would also consider transferring with three years of eligibility remaining, but the Utah native hasn’t hinted at such a move yet.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.