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Ex-UNLV quarterback reportedly won’t transfer to Georgia

Updated January 10, 2024 - 6:10 pm

Jayden Maiava, the former UNLV and Liberty quarterback, committed to Georgia on Monday.

“They’re at the top,” Maiava told 247Sports. “I wanted to compete with the best and be able to share my skills and talents there.”

Less than 24 hours later, Maiava changed course.

Multiple reports late Tuesday indicated Maiava will now transfer to Southern California, where he’ll join coach Lincoln Riley and the Trojans as they prepare to move to the Big Ten from the disintegrating Pac-12. Maiava has three years of eligibility remaining.

It’s just the latest twist in Maiava’s transfer portal odyssey, an option he denied even exploring less than a month ago on Dec. 24.

“I’ll be back here.” Maiava said when asked about his UNLV future at the Guaranteed Rate Bowl’s media day. “We’re going to run it back.”

Maiava’s remarkable rise at UNLV under first-year coach Barry Odom and offensive coordinator Brennan Marion led to his high demand in the transfer portal. Maiava entered his redshirt freshman season as the backup to junior quarterback Doug Brumfield, beating out 2021 Mountain West Freshman of the Year Cameron Friel in the process.

Brumfield was injured early during UNLV’s 40-37 win against Vanderbilt on Sept. 16. Maiava stepped up, completing 19 of his 33 pass attempts for 261 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot-4-inch signal-caller demonstrated his poise by rebounding from a late interception to lead the Rebels 62 yards in 39 seconds to set up Jose Pizano’s game-winning 36-yard field goal.

Maiava’s heroics against Vanderbilt were just an introduction to his knack for late-game drama. He led another game-winning drive to set up a walk-off Pizano field goal against Colorado State on Oct. 21. The 25-23 victory clinched bowl eligibility for UNLV for the first time since 2013.

A week later, Maiava was a dropped touchdown away from pulling off a stunning comeback win against Fresno State. He played one of his best games of the season against Air Force, throwing for 339 yards and two touchdowns against a Falcons defense that included Jim Thorpe Award winner Trey Taylor.

UNLV’s 31-27 win against Air Force on Nov. 18 helped the Rebels gain the inside track for a place in the Mountain West championship game. Maiava was named Mountain West freshman of the year after throwing for 3,085 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 63.5 percent of his passes.

Maiava entered the transfer portal Jan. 1, eight days after announcing he planned to return to UNLV. Georgia and USC eventually emerged as his top destinations.

The Bulldogs were a curious choice. Georgia finished 13-1, with the lone loss coming against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Georgia starting quarterback Carson Beck announced he was returning Dec. 18. He still has two years of eligibility remaining, and is already entrenched as the Bulldogs’ starter after throwing for 3,941 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2023.

Maiava told 247Sports he was willing to sit behind Beck in 2024.

USC, in comparison, is about to embark on a wide-open quarterback competition, as Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, is expected to declare for the NFL draft. He’s the third quarterback under Riley’s tutelage to claim the award, along with former No. 1 overall picks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who both played for Riley at Oklahoma.

Malachi Nelson, a 2023 five-star recruit out of high school according to the 247Sports composite rankings, was Williams’ presumed heir apparent. Instead, Nelson announced Jan. 6 that he’s transferring to Boise State.

The Trojans haven’t signed a quarterback as part of their high school recruiting class yet, leaving rising junior Miller Moss as Maiava’s main competition for the starting role. Moss threw for 372 yards and six touchdowns in USC’s 42-28 win against Louisville in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on X.

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