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BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – NOVEMBER 27: Zach Calzada #10 of the Texas A&M Aggies throws the ball during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada (10) is surrounded by fans after the team’s win over Alabama in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – NOVEMBER 27: Zach Calzada #10 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates a touchdown during the second half against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Former Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada is transferring to Incarnate Word, the program announced Wednesday, as the Cardinals aim to reload and maintain their standing as one of the most high-powered offenses in college football.
A 10-game starter for the Aggies in 2021, Calzada threw for 2,185 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions, taking the No. 1 role behind center following an injury to Haynes King. Facing top-ranked Alabama in A&M’s sixth game of the year, Calzada completed 21 of 31 passes for 285 yards with three touchdowns to spark the Aggies to a 41-38 upset in College Station.
Calzada redshirted at A&M in his first year out of Georgia’s Lanier High in 2019, did not play in 2020 and received a medical redshirt at Auburn last year after undergoing shoulder surgery, leaving him with potentially three years of eligibility remaining.
UIW averaged a Division I-best 51.5 points per game last season behind quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr., who in his first year as a transfer from Nicholls State set FCS records with 60 passing touchdowns, 71 total touchdowns and 10.32 yards per pass attempt to earn the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the FCS.
The Cardinals went 12-2 last year and advanced to the FCS semifinals for the first time, but the program is facing the prospect of a reset after Scott exhausted his eligibility and coach G.J. Kinne left to take the head job at Texas State, bringing most of the offensive staff with him.
Clint Killough, UIW’s associate head coach and wide receivers coach last year, was promoted to the head role less than a week before signing day, announcing just four new signees when the early period opened Dec. 21.
The Cardinals announced an influx of 12 transfers Wednesday, with Calzada headlining a group of five newcomers from Power Five schools.
UIW also added East Carolina transfer quarterback Ryan Stubblefield, who did not play in three seasons with the Pirates after signing from Richmond Foster in the 2020 recruiting class.
The additions help UIW offset the rash of players lost to the transfer portal. Texas State announced that six former Cardinals are following Kinne to his new role with the Bobcats, including freshman receiver Kole Wilson and offensive line starters Nash Jones, Jimeto Obigbo and Caleb Johnson.
UIW is aiming to uphold its reputation as a launching pad for coaches and quarterbacks — a trend that started in 2021 when coach Eric Morris’ high-flying offense with the Cardinals earned him the offensive coordinator job at Washington State and later the head coaching position at North Texas.
Cameron Ward, who won the Jerry Rice Award as the most outstanding freshman in the FCS at UIW and followed with Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year recognition the following season, followed Morris to Washington State and threw for 3,231 yards with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season.
Greg Luca is the UTSA beat reporter and general assignment reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. In addition to UTSA, his coverage includes the University of Incarnate Word, the San Antonio Missions and other San Antonio area colleges. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Florida and a native of Connecticut. He was the sports editor of the McAllen Monitor from 2014-18.