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Northwestern Transfer QB Brendan Sullivan Commits to Iowa

Brendan Sullivan committed to Iowa out of the transfer portal on Wednesday.
Brendan Sullivan committed to Iowa out of the transfer portal on Wednesday. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

IOWA CITY -- As he announced on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, following a visit to campus, former Northwestern quarterback Brendan Sullivan has committed to Iowa out of the transfer portal. The three-star transfer QB spent the first three years of his career in Evanston and has two years of eligibility remaining.


Between 2022 and 2023 as the backup quarterback for the Wildcats, Sullivan periodically saw the field as the starter, playing in a total of 13 games in those two years. Under center, he completed 134-of-195 passes (68.7%) for 1,303 yards, ten touchdowns, and five interceptions. A mobile QB, he had 129 carries for 257 yards and three scores as well.

His most productive game came in a 33-27 win over Maryland last fall, when he finished the contest 16-of-23 for a career high of 265 yards paired with two touchdowns and no picks.

Sullivan does have a history of being surpassed on the depth chart, though.

He lost battles for the starting job to Ryan Hilinski in 2022 and Ben Bryant in 2023, but was the clear incumbent favorite for the starting job in 2024 according to Louie Vaccher of WildCat Report.

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A three-star prospect out of high school, Sullivan was recruited to Northwestern in the Class of 2021 by previous offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, who was dismissed in December after the team's Las Vegas Bowl victory. Former South Dakota State OC Zach Lujan has since taken over the OC position for the Wildcats.

The Davison, Michigan product was recruited by Iowa's new offensive coordinator and former Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester out of high school as well. That fits with what Lester has espoused in his time so far in Iowa City: "relationship before opportunity."

Sullivan also received offers from programs including Indiana, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Miami (OH), Ball State and more out of Davison High School.


Adding Sullivan to the QB room in Iowa makes for a vastly improved insurance policy, should Cade McNamara go down with injury again this fall. Following two major surgeries in back-to-back off seasons, adding a healthy player of Sullivan's caliber should take the disastrous downturn of last season's offense off the table for 2024.

This also puts McNamara in a position where he can be the presumed incumbent, but there won't be a clear discrepancy between the first and second-string quarterbacks like 2023, when Deacon Hill was pressed into action and struggled mightily.

Considering Sullivan has two years of eligibility remaining, this also provides an opportunity for fellow backup quarterbacks Marco Lainez and James Resar to stay on long-term development plans under Lester.

We'll have more on Sullivan's commitment for premium subscribers.