College Football's Top Transfers to Watch in 2014

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Wes Lunt highlights a deep QB transfer group.

College Football's Top Transfers to Watch in 2014

Free agency isn’t an option in college football, but player movement is still a big part of every offseason. The transaction wire was busy over the last year with several players changing homes for the 2014 campaign.

Several quarterbacks changed addresses for 2014, including graduate transfers Michael Brewer (Virginia Tech), Jacob Coker (Alabama), Jake Heaps (Miami), Matt Joeckel (TCU) and Stephen Rivers (Vanderbilt).

 

In addition to the graduate transfers, the quarterback position has a handful of names that sat out 2013 as a result of NCAA transfer rules. NC State’s Jacoby Brissett and Illinois’ Wes Lunt are two transfers expected to make a huge impact in 2014.

 

Key transfers weren’t just limited to quarterbacks, as running back Rushel Shell left Pittsburgh for West Virginia, receiver Jordan Leslie left UTEP for BYU, while defensive tackle Delvon Simmons transferred from Texas Tech to USC.

 

Which players might make an impact as a transfer in 2014? Let’s take a look:

 

Power 5 Conference Transfers at Quarterback

 

Conner Brewer, Arizona (from Texas)

Arizona opened fall practice with a wide-open battle for the starting job. Brewer redshirted in his only season at Texas and is battling Jesse Scroggins, Jerrard Randall and Anu Solomon for time.

 

Michael Brewer, Virginia Tech (from Texas Tech)

Virginia Tech’s offense is searching for a spark after averaging only 22.5 points per game last season. Logan Thomas expired his eligibility as the No. 1 quarterback in Blacksburg, leaving Brewer, Brenden Motley and Mark Leal competing for the starting job. In two seasons at Texas Tech, Brewer completed 41 of 58 passes for 440 yards and five touchdowns.

 

Jacoby Brissett, NC State (from Florida)

NC State’s offense struggled to find consistency from its quarterback position in 2013. But the Wolfpack should show significant improvement on offense behind Brissett in 2014. In two seasons with Florida, Brissett completed 41 of 74 passes for 455 yards and three scores. NC State quarterbacks combined to throw only 11 touchdowns last year, but Brissett will easily surpass that mark in 2014.

 

Jacob Coker, Alabama (from Florida State)

With Jameis Winston entrenched as Florida State’s No. 1 quarterback, Coker left Tallahassee for a chance to start for Nick Saban. The Alabama native played sparingly in two years with the Seminoles, completing 18 of 36 passes for 250 yards and one interception in 2013. Coker has the size and arm strength coaches want in a prototypical quarterback. With a strong supporting cast, he won’t be asked to win many games for the Crimson Tide, but Coker’s performances in key SEC contests could decide whether or not Alabama returns to Atlanta in early December.

 

Jake Heaps, Miami (from Kansas)

Heaps ranked as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in the 2010 signing class and spent his first two years with BYU. Heaps threw 24 touchdown passes with the Cougars but transferred to Kansas after losing the starting job to Riley Nelson. In one year with the Jayhawks, the Washington native completed only 49 percent of his throws and tossed 10 picks. With Ryan Williams suffering a torn ACL in spring practice, and the suspension of Kevin Olsen, Heaps is slated to start the opener against Louisville.

 

Matt Joeckel, TCU (from Texas A&M)

In an effort to find a spark on offense, the Horned Frogs are changing offensive schemes to an up-tempo, spread attack in 2014. Trevone Boykin and Joeckel will battle to win the starting job, with Joeckel likely holding a slight edge due to his experience at Texas A&M in a similar offense. Joeckel completed 27 of 48 passes for 335 yards and two scores from 2012-13 with the Aggies. If Joeckel wins the quarterback battle, Boykin is expected to move to receiver.

 

Wes Lunt, Illinois (from Oklahoma State)

Tim Beckman’s hire of Bill Cubit as the team’s play-caller paid big dividends for the Illinois’ offense in 2013. The Fighting Illini averaged 29.7 points per game last year and could take that number even higher in 2014. Lunt – a former four-star recruit – is eligible after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. In 2012 at Oklahoma State, Lunt threw for 1,108 yards and six touchdowns. With a struggling defense, expect Lunt and the Fighting Illini offense to be involved in plenty of shootouts in 2014.

 

Tyler Murphy, Boston College (from Florida)

Murphy played sparingly prior to last season, but an injury to Jeff Driskel pressed the Connecticut native into his first extensive action with the Gators. Murphy started six games and finished 2013 with 1,216 yards and six passing scores, while rushing for 61 yards. The Eagles are expected to shift to a spread attack in 2014, which fits Murphy’s skill-set better than the offense did at Florida in 2013. Murphy should take the opening snap for Boston College this year.

 

Stephen Rivers, Vanderbilt (from LSU)

First-year coach Derek Mason heads into 2014 hoping to improve an offense that managed only seven passing scores in SEC games last year. Mason and coordinator Karl Dorrell have options at quarterback, including Patton Robinette, Rivers and promising redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary. Rivers spent three years at LSU and misfired on both passes he attempted in limited action. The Alabama native lacks mobility, but has intriguing size (6’7”) and is the brother of NFL star Philip Rivers.

 

Kendal Thompson, Utah (from Oklahoma)

Thompson transferred to Utah after three years at Oklahoma. After redshirting in his first season, Thompson did not play in 2012 and only attempted 13 passes with the Sooners in 2013. If healthy, Travis Wilson is Utah’s starter, but Thompson adds more depth to a position that has been hit hard by injuries in recent years.

 

Group of 5 Transfers to Watch at QB

 

Rob Bolden, Eastern Michigan (from LSU)

Bolden was regarded as one of the top quarterback recruits in the 2010 signing class. Fast forward to 2014 and Bolden is on his third school and vying for a chance to start at Eastern Michigan. Prior to his stop in Ypsilanti, Bolden was at Penn State for two years and had a two-season stint at LSU. Bolden threw seven touchdowns and 14 picks from 2010-11 at Penn State.

 

Brandon Connette, Fresno State (from Duke)

Derek Carr will be missed, but Fresno State is still in good shape at quarterback. Connette transferred from Duke after spring practice and is competing with Brian Burrell for the starting job this fall. Connette scored 27 total touchdowns for the Blue Devils in 2013.

 

Phillip Ely, Toledo (from Alabama)

Alabama transfer is part of a three-way battle to replace Terrance Owens. Ely was a three-star recruit by Rivals in the 2011 signing class and played in six games with Alabama in 2012.

 

Blake Frohnapfel, UMass (from Marshall)

With Rakeem Cato entrenched at Marshall, Frohnapfel transferred to UMass with an opportunity to start in 2014. Frohnapfel threw for 206 yards and three scores in limited snaps with the Thundering Herd in 2013.

 

Andrew Hendrix, Miami (Ohio) (from Notre Dame)

New coach Chuck Martin’s rebuilding effort at Miami (Ohio) will have some help from a couple of Notre Dame transfers, including Hendrix at quarterback in 2014. The former four-star recruit completed 25 of 58 passes for 360 yards and one score in three years with the Fighting Irish.

 

Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati (from Notre Dame)

The Bearcats led the American Athletic Conference by averaging 6.3 yards per play in league games last year. Quarterback Brendon Kay has expired his eligibility, but Cincinnati’s offense shouldn’t miss a beat with Kiel at the controls. The Indiana native ranked as the No. 27 overall recruit in the 2012 signing class by 247Sports Composite and redshirted in his debut with the Fighting Irish. Kiel has yet to take a snap on the college level, but he’s a promising option for a Cincinnati team expected to contend for the American Athletic Conference title.

 

Nick Patti, UCF (from Boise State)

Patti is battling Justin Holman and Pete DiNovo to replace Blake Bortles. The Florida native is eligible immediately after transferring from Boise State.

 

Cody Sokol, Louisiana Tech (from Iowa)

Sokol transfers to Ruston after two years at Iowa. The former Scottsdale Community College quarterback did not record any statistics with the Hawkeyes and is competing with Ryan Higgins for the starting job.

 

Pete Thomas, ULM (from NC State)

Thomas is on his third stop in his collegiate career, transferring to ULM after a stint at NC State. The California native played from 2010-11 at Colorado State and tossed four touchdowns to nine interceptions with the Wolfpack in 2013. Thomas is competing with Brayle Brown for the starting job.

 

Other Key Transfers

 

RB Dee Hart, Colorado State (Alabama)

Former five-star recruit transferred to Colorado State after three years at Alabama. Hart is reunited with former coordinator Jim McElwain and could push for the starting job with the departure of Kapri Bibbs.

 

RB Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan (from Michigan)

Rawls moves two hours north from Ann Arbor to Mount Pleasant and joins the Chippewas after rushing for 333 yards in three years with the Wolverines.

 

RB Rushel Shell, West Virginia (from Pittsburgh)

Shell ranked as a five-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite in 2012 and played in 12 games as a freshman for Pittsburgh, recording 641 yards and four touchdowns on 141 attempts. Shell is competing for time in a crowded backfield, but he could be an All-Big 12 player if he gets enough opportunities in 2014.

 

RB Braylon Heard, Kentucky (from Nebraska)

Heard was a four-star recruit for Nebraska in the 2010 signing class, and the Ohio native rushed for 462 yards and four scores from 2011-12. Heard averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2012 and will team with Jojo Kemp to form a much improved Kentucky rushing attack in 2014.

 

WR Nick Harwell, Kansas (from Miami, Ohio)

The Jayhawks have struggled to find playmakers at receiver in recent years, but the addition of Harwell and Nigel King should help. Harwell caught 229 passes in three years with Miami (Ohio) and posted a 1,000-yard season in 2011.

 

WR Cayleb Jones, Arizona (from Texas)

Arizona’s receiving corps could be one of the deepest in the nation in 2014. Jones – a Texas transfer – played in 10 games as a freshman in 2012 with the Longhorns and caught one pass. Jones was a four-star recruit in the 2012 signing class.

 

WR Nigel King, Kansas (from Maryland)

King was a late addition to Kansas’ roster this summer after catching 33 passes for 450 yards and four scores with Maryland in 2013. The North Carolina native adds talent to a position that has struggled for the Jayhawks in recent years.

 

WR Jordan Leslie, BYU (from UTEP)

Leslie should be a key piece of BYU’s passing attack in 2014. In three seasons at UTEP, the Texas native caught 125 passes and averaged 19.1 yards per catch in 2012. With Cody Hoffman departing, the Cougars need a new No. 1 target in 2014.

 

WR Davonte Neal, Arizona (from Notre Dame)

Neal is a name to remember this year, as the former Notre Dame receiver could play in an all-purpose role for the Wildcats. The Arizona native caught one pass for the Fighting Irish in 2012 but the sophomore has game-changing ability and should be a key piece in the offense in 2014.

 

WR Shakim Phillips, Boston College (from UConn)

The Eagles’ receiving corps is thin on proven options heading into 2014, but the return of Phillips should give Boston College a go-to target for quarterback Tyler Murphy. Phillips started his career with the Eagles but transferred to UConn for the 2012-13 seasons. The New Jersey native caught 28 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.

 

WR Marvin Shinn, South Alabama (from Alabama)

Shinn was a four-star recruit for Alabama in the 2011 signing class and played in 14 games in 2012 for the Crimson Tide. Shinn should be a key weapon for new quarterback Brandon Bridge.

 

WR Miles Shuler, Northwestern (from Rutgers)

Shuler is a key pickup for a Northwestern team hoping to rebound after a 5-7 mark in 2013. The New Jersey native caught five passes in two years with Rutgers from 2011-12 and adds another speed threat to the Wildcats’ receiving corps.

 

WR LeKendrick Williams, Fresno State (from Texas A&M)

Williams caught seven passes in three years at Texas A&M, but he should easily surpass that mark in 2014 with Fresno State. The Texas native will help replace some of the production left by Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse.

 

TE Jake McGee, Florida (from Virginia)

McGee is a significant pickup for a Florida offense that desperately needs playmakers in the receiving corps. The Virginia native caught 71 passes and seven touchdowns in three seasons with the Cavaliers. McGee should be a good fit in Gainesville under new coordinator Kurt Roper.

 

TE Alex Welch, Miami (Ohio) (from Notre Dame)

Welch caught only one pass during his time at Notre Dame, but the Ohio native is slated to start for the RedHawks in 2014.

 

OL Malcolm Bunche, UCLA (from Miami)

Bunche played in 31 games in three seasons with the Hurricanes, including 12 starts at left tackle in 2012. He could play at guard or tackle for the Bruins in 2014.

 

OL Cameron Jefferson, Arkansas (from UNLV)

Jefferson transferred to Arkansas after UNLV’s bowl ban (later rescinded) was announced. The Las Vegas native started all 13 games for the Rebels in 2012 and earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors in 2013.

 

OL Alex Lewis, Nebraska (from Colorado)

Lewis is expected to start at left tackle for Cornhuskers in 2014 after starting 12 games at Colorado in 2012.

 

OL Chad Lindsay, Ohio State (from Alabama)

Lindsay is a graduate transfer from Alabama and joins the Buckeyes after starting four games with the Crimson Tide in 2013. He could push for a starting spot on the interior this year.

 

OL Ian Silberman, Boston College (from Florida)

Silberman is a graduate transfer from Florida and is slated to start at right tackle for Boston College in 2014. In three years with the Gators, Silberman appeared in 20 games and made four starts in 2013.

 

OL Christian Westerman, Arizona State (from Auburn)

Westerman ranked as a five-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite for the 2011 signing class, and he transferred to Arizona State after two years with Auburn. The Arizona native played in the Holiday Bowl loss to Texas Tech, but this will be his first extended opportunity at playing time since high school. Westerman is expected to start at left guard, allowing Jamil Douglas to play at left tackle in 2014.

 

DL Jordan Allen, Arizona (from LSU)

Allen is another key transfer pickup for coach Rich Rodriguez. In three years at LSU, Allen played in 17 contests and recorded two sacks. He will push for playing time on a line that is considered the weak spot on Arizona’s defense.

 

DL Houston Bates, Louisiana Tech (from Illinois)

Bates’ departure was a significant blow for Illinois’ defense and a huge gain for Skip Holtz and Louisiana Tech. The Louisiana native was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2013 and finished his Fighting Illini career with 81 tackles (14 for a loss) and three forced fumbles. Bates should push for All-Conference USA honors in 2014.

 

DL Fadol Brown, Ole Miss (from FIU)

Brown is a promising sophomore for Ole Miss’ defense, as he transferred from FIU after just one season (eight tackles, 1.5 sacks). The South Carolina native adds depth to a line that could be one of the best in the SEC this year.

 

DL Jalen Grimble, Oregon State (from Miami)

Oregon State’s defensive line is under construction with only one returning starter (Dylan Wynn). Grimble was a four-star prospect by Rivals in the 2011 signing class and played in 15 games in his first two years at Miami. Grimble is slated to play significant snaps at defensive tackle in 2014.

 

DL Se’Von Pittman, Akron (from Ohio State)

Pittman was a top-100 recruit in the 2012 signing class and redshirted in his first season at Ohio State.

 

DL Shaquille Riddick, West Virginia (from Gardner-Webb)

Riddick is one of the most intriguing transfers for 2014. The Ohio native is eligible immediately after transferring from Gardner-Webb, where the 6-foot-6 defensive end earned FCS All-America honors in 2013. Riddick recorded 10.5 sacks from 2012-13 and is slated to push for a starting spot with the Mountaineers.

 

DL Josh Shirley, UNLV (from Washington)

Shirley is a late summer pickup for UNLV. The California native earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2013 and recorded 18 sacks at Washington from 2011-13.

 

DT Delvon Simmons, USC (from Texas Tech)

Simmons spent two years at Texas Tech, recording 27 tackles and two sacks in 2012. He is expected to play a key role in USC’s defensive line this year.

 

DL Gavin Stansbury, Houston (from Texas A&M)

Stansbury was expected to be a key piece of Texas A&M’s defensive line rotation, but he transferred to Houston this summer. Stansbury recorded 47 tackles and three sacks with the Aggies last year.

 

LB A.J. Hilliard, Texas A&M (from TCU)

Hilliard played in 11 games as a true freshman with TCU in 2012. He is expected to push for snaps in Texas A&M’s linebacking corps this season.

 

LB Gionni Paul, Utah (from Miami)

Paul transferred after two years at Miami and was expected to be a key piece of Utah’s linebacking corps in 2014 until a foot injury sidelined him in the spring. Paul recorded 61 stops for the Hurricanes in 2012.

 

DB Ty-Meer Brown, Boston College (from UConn)

Brown was a three-year starter for UConn, recording at least 45 tackles in every season from 2011-13. The Pennsylvania native missed the final five games of 2013 due to a neck injury and transferred as a graduate student to Boston College. Brown is expected to be a significant contributor for Eagles’ secondary in 2014.

 

S Harvey Jackson, BYU (from Nebraska)

BYU’s secondary got a late-spring boost with the addition of Jackson from Nebraska. The Texas native played in 35 games in three years with the Cornhuskers and recorded 54 tackles.

 

DB Lo Wood, Miami (Ohio) (from Notre Dame)

Wood is one of three Notre Dame players following new coach Chuck Martin from South Bend to the MAC. Wood played in 32 career games with the Fighting Irish and recorded 20 tackles.

 

CB Cody Riggs, Notre Dame (from Florida)

The Fighting Irish could have one of the nation’s top cornerback duos in 2014, as KeiVarae Russell is a standout junior on one side, and he will be joined by Florida transfer Cody Riggs. In three years with the Gators, Riggs recorded one interception, 107 tackles and one forced fumble.

 

Other Players Transferring in 2014

 

QB Luke Del Rio, Oregon State (from Alabama)

QB Matt Floyd, South Alabama (from USF)

QB Anthony Maddie, Northern Illinois (from Western Michigan)

QB T.J. Millweard, Kansas (from UCLA)

QB David Olson, Clemson (from Stanford)

QB Brent Stockstill, MTSU (from Cincinnati)

QB Mike Wegzyn, Tennessee (from UMass)

RB Justus Pickett, Tennessee (from Maryland)

RB Lucky Radley, San Diego State (from Utah)

RB Anthon Samuel, FIU (from Bowling Green)

RB Adonis Smith, Arizona (from UNLV)

WR Rodney Adams, USF (from Toledo)

WR Aaron Bradley, Ohio (from Nevada)

WR Trevor Davis, California (from Hawaii)

WR Gehrig Dieter, Bowling Green (from SMU)

WR Chandler Dorrell, Vanderbilt (from Stanford)

WR Eric Dungy, USF (from Oregon)

WR Nick England, Old Dominion (from FIU)

WR Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois (from North Dakota)

WR Jeff Greene, Ohio State (from Georgia Tech)

WR Donovan Harden, Georgia State (from Illinois State)

WR Charlie Hegedus, Georgia (from NC State)

WR Alex Kenney, UMass (from Penn State)

WR D’Vario Montgomery, Iowa State (from USF)

WR Keanu Nelson, BYU (from Stanford)

WR Cam Oliver, Houston (from ULM)

WR Quinton Pedroza, Hawaii (from Utah)

WR E.J. Scott, Wake Forest (from Virginia)

WR Paul Turner, Louisiana Tech (from LSU)

WR Andrew Turzilli, Rutgers (from Kansas)

WR Jackie Williams, UCF (from UAB)

WR Cameron Wilson, Ohio (from Iowa)

TE Darien Bryant, West Virginia (from Vanderbilt)

TE Michael Cooper, Indiana (from Arizona)

TE Davis Dudchock, Vanderbilt (from Stanford)

TE Iona Pritchard, Oregon State (from BYU)

TE Evan Tatford, UL Lafayette (from Tulane)

TE Jacob Wark, Oregon State (from California)

OL James Bodanis, Michigan State (from Toronto)

OL Shane Callahan, Colorado (from Arizona)

OL Travis Cross, Houston (from Oklahoma State)

OL Ben Dew, Houston (from Hawaii)

OL Ethan Hutson, Troy (from Ole Miss)

OL Blake Muir, Baylor (from Hawaii)

DT Richard Ash, Western Michigan (from Michigan)

DL Jacoby Briscoe, UL Lafayette (from Miami)

DL Bruce Heggie, Ball State (from Notre Dame)

DL K’Hadree Hooker, East Carolina (from NC State)

DL Terrell Jackson, Bowling Green (from Pittsburgh)

DL Lawrence Lagafuaina, Hawaii (from Washington)

DL Langston Newton, Purdue (from Kentucky)

DL Ernest Suttles, Memphis (from Nebraska)

DL Sam Ukwuachu, Baylor (from Boise State)

DL Anthony Williams, Troy (from Georgia Tech)

DL Ricardo Williams, Marshall (from Miami)

DL Brandon Willis, UNLV (from UCLA)

LB Jeremy Castro, Hawaii (from UCLA)

LB Trey Grainer, UL Lafayette (from LSU)

LB Ruben Ibarra, Arizona State (from Purdue)

LB Harvey Langi, BYU (from Utah)

LB Cameron Nwosu, SMU (from Rice)

LB Deaysean Rippy, Colorado (from Pittsburgh)

LB Anthony Wallace, North Texas (from Oregon)

LB Eric Wilson, Cincinnati (from Northwestern)

DB Anthony Alford, Ole Miss (from Southern Miss)

S Cullen Christian, West Virginia (from Pittsburgh)

CB Bruce Dukes, Georgia State (from UCF)

S Justin Ferguson, Western Michigan (from Notre Dame)

S Josh Furman, Oklahoma State (from Michigan)

CB Daniel Gray, Utah State (from Tennessee)

DB Bryan Harper, Fresno State (from Arizona)

DB Lee Hightower, Houston (from Boise State)

CB Donaldven Manning, Marshall (from Virginia Tech)

S Reggie Mitchell, Pittsburgh (from Wisconsin)

CB Najee Murray, Kent State (from Ohio State)

DB Damian Payne, UTEP (from Houston)

DB Cleveland Wallace, San Jose State (from Washington)

CB Tyler White, Houston (from Utah)

K James Hairston, Rice (from LSU)

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