- Tom Brady was drafted out of the University of Michigan by the New England Patriots, leading to one of the most successful runs in NFL history.
- It almost never happened as Brady was low on the depth chart and considered transferring to Cal to be closer to home.
- Instead, Brady stuck it out and viewed the depth chart as a challenge he was going to overcome.
Quarterbacks transferring schools for greener pastures and more opportunities has become the standard in college football, but Tom Brady is one example of how sticking it out can pay off big time.
The New England Patriots famously drafted Brady with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, and while there was more to that move than luck, Brady might not have even been at the University of Michigan if not for his hyper-competitive nature.
During Brady’s freshman year, he was fourth on the depth chart at Michigan, behind future NFL quarterbacks Scott Dreisbach and Brian Griese, and Jason Carr, the son of head coach Lloyd Carr. Brady never saw the field and was redshirted.
Things weren’t much better Brady’s second year. Carr had graduated, but Brady was still behind Dreisbach and Griese, and he threw just five passes during the season.
At some point, Brady considered transferring to Cal, the school close to home that many had expected him to commit to in high school. In the book, “Belichick and Brady,” Michael Holley explains that Brady instead chose to face the depth chart as a challenge he was going to win.
“He briefly thought of leaving Michigan and transferring to Cal, the school most people expected him to attend after high school. But the challenge, or the need, of getting to the top of that depth chart was far greater than the urge to go back home and play. People were too caught up in appearances. They didn’t understand that this place, the anti-California, was home now. He was going to play at Michigan. It was another competition, climbing that chart, and thus another opportunity for him to get a win. All he had to do was make everyone see it and get it.”
And climb that depth chart he did.
In Brady’s third year, Carr named Griese the starter for the eventual national champions, but Brady beat out Dreisbach for the backup spot.
The following season, Brady won the starting job, beating out Dreisbach and highly touted freshman Drew Henson. Two years later the Patriots drafted him and started one of the most successful runs in NFL history.
Who knows what would have happened if Brady had transferred to Cal – Cal QBs do have a long and successful history in the NFL – but in recent seasons, quarterbacks who switch schools because they are not starting feels like the norm.
When Kelly Bryant lost the job at Clemson to Trevor Lawrence, he left the school and transferred to Missouri. Likewise, Jacob Eason, a former 5-star recruit at Georgia, left for Washington after losing his job to Jake Fromm. Georgia also lost former No. 1 recruit Justin Fields to Ohio State. Texas will lose two quarterbacks this offseason to transfers, and nearly lost a third when Casey Thompson entered his name in the transfer database, but ultimately decided to stay.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to transferring as every situation is different, and it is good that players have a little more freedom these days to do what they think is best for their future.
But the last 19 years in the NFL might have been a lot different if Brady had given up on Michigan and gone home.
- Read more about Tom Brady:
- 20 things you probably didn’t know about Tom Brady
- A former teammate of Tom Brady says he realised how special the young QB was when a mother started breastfeeding in front of him
- 38 examples of Tom Brady’s extraordinary competitiveness
- 40 photos that show how Tom Brady evolved into an NFL and fashion icon
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.