After a tumultuous three months that saw him begin the season as the starting quarterback, struggle with injuries and poor play and eventually lose his job, Missouri redshirt sophomore quarterback Connor Bazelak announced via Twitter on Thursday that he would enter the transfer portal. He has three years of eligibility remaining.
The news comes a day after Missouri’s season ended with a loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. The day before the game, MU coach Eliah Drinkwitz announced that redshirt freshman Brady Cook would start for the Tigers. It was the first time all year Bazelak was healthy but didn’t play.
“This has been a tough decision that I have been thinking about for the last several weeks, but I wanted to be available for my team one last time in the bowl game,” he said in a statement
Entering the season as the undisputed starter after beating out Shawn Robinson early in the 2020 season, Bazelak looked to build on a productive redshirt freshman season in which he passed for 2,366 yards with a 67% completion rate, earning him SEC Co-Freshman of the Year honors.
After a strong season opener against Central Michigan, it took Bazelak just four Power Five games to surpass his interception total from 2020. His steady decision-making, which often made up for his lack of speed and elite arm strength, was absent after early September.
He injured his leg in Missouri’s Oct. 30 win over Vanderbilt and missed the Tigers’ next game, against Georgia. True freshman Tyler Macon started and split reps with Cook. Bazelak lacked mobility when he returned, posting negative rushing totals in two of his last three games.
He ended the regular season with two of his worst performances in a Tigers uniform: combined 25-for-52 for 230 yards with a touchdown and a pick against Florida and Arkansas. He did lead MU to bowl eligibility in the Florida game, with his 2-point conversion pass to tight end Daniel Parker Jr. the difference in a 24-23 overtime victory.
Throughout almost the entire season, Drinkwitz was steadfast in his support for Bazelak. He told reporters that he never considered making a change under center after Missouri’s blowout loss to Tennessee, and the refrain remained constant in subsequent weeks: Bazelak gave the team the best chance to win.
Bazelak came to Missouri in 2019 under coach Barry Odom and saw his first action as a true freshman in a blowout win over Southeast Missouri. He played twice more that year: relieving Taylor Powell in a loss to Georgia and starting the season finale against Arkansas in Little Rock, Ark. He completed 7 of 9 passes against the Razorbacks but tore his ACL in the first half.
Robinson began 2020 as the starter but split time with Bazelak, whose performance in Week 2 against Tennessee was enough to earn him the solo starting job. He followed that up by throwing for 406 yards and four touchdowns in a win over defending national champion LSU.
With Bazelak gone from the Program, Cook, Macon and walk-on Tommy Lock are the only quarterbacks on Missouri’s roster. They will be joined by highly touted Georgia recruit Sam Horn in 2022.