Rice’s primary starting quarterback from 2022 is continuing is collegiate career in Sun Belt country.
TJ McMahon, who led the Owls in passing yards last season, announced his commitment to Marshall on Twitter on Sunday night. This announcement comes less than two weeks after he tweeted news that the Thundering Herd offered on Apr. 27.
McMahon started nine games for the Owls in a season which resulted in their first bowl appearance since 2014. He was named the second-string quarterback for the opener at USC, but following a first half injury to starter Wiley Green, McMahon was suddenly thrust into the role as chief signal caller. McMahon started each of the next nine contests until suffering an injury on a sack against WKU. He did not play in Rice’s final three contests, missing the remainder of the season.
It was a prolific season for McMahon, whose experience at the FBS level was essentially limited to one game prior to 2022. In his first substantial opportunity, the former community college transfer produced 2,102 passing yards and 18 touchdowns — which were both the highest marks by an Owl quarterback since 2015. McMahon rounded out his season stat-line with a 60.2 completion percentage and 14 interceptions, which was tied for the third most in the FBS. His presence brought a semblance of verticality to a Rice squad which hadn’t ranked above 80th in passing offense since 2015. He became the first Owl since to post back-to-back 300-yard aerial performances since 2014 Driphus Jackson and finished with a trio of 300-yard showings.
McMahon also demonstrated his ability to tuck the ball and run in his one year as Rice’s primary starter. He produced 154 rushing yards and three touchdowns, notably gunning for a 64-yard rushing touchdown in a 42-41 overtime win over Louisiana Tech.
McMahon’s transfer coincides with the arrival of journeyman quarterback JT Daniels — a former highly-touted recruit who enjoyed stops at USC, Georgia, and West Virginia prior to making his way to Rice this offseason. Daniels is expected to claim the starting role for the 2023 season, while AJ Padgett — who shined in the LendingTree Bowl with 295 passing yards and three touchdowns — is likely to serve as the second-string. Although McMahon didn’t announce entry to the transfer portal until Apr. 20, he did not participate in Rice’s Apr. 15 spring game.
At McMahon’s new university in Huntington, WV, he is expected to compete in a quarterback room which features incumbent starter Cam Fancher. Fancher took over the No. 1 quarterback duties from Henry Colombi around midseason and started the final seven games for the Thundering Herd. He guided Marshall to a 28-14 win over Connecticut in the 2022 Myrtle Beach Bowl, which was the program’s first postseason victory in four years. Fancher finished his freshman campaign with 1,558 yards on a 55.7 completion rate with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. Marshall won six of his seven starts, and the program rides a 5-game win streak into 2023.
Other than Fancher and McMahon, not a single quarterback on Marshall’s roster has thrown a pass at the FBS level. With a deeper quarterback room at their disposal, the Thundering Herd look forward to opening their 2023 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 2 against Albany of the FCS.