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Look for Russell Wilson to make a big impact at his new school this year.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Whether they sat out a year or used a waiver to get immediate eligibility, these transfers have potential to make an instant impact in 2011. Some players like Russell Wilson will have an impact on the national title race, while a player like Barry Brunetti is more likely to figure into the conference race.
Here's a look at the top transfers to watch in college football for 2012.
Barry Brunetti (West Virginia to Ole Miss) – Brunetti played in four games last season, completing 4 of 9 passes for six yards. The sophomore’s waiver for immediate eligibility was approved, which will allow him to compete for the starting job this year. Houston Nutt has indicated Brunetti holds a slight edge over Randall Mackey to start, but this battle is expected to continue into fall practice.
Logan Gray (Georgia to Colorado) – With Aaron Murray entrenched as Georgia’s starter, Gray transferred to Colorado for his final season of eligibility. Gray threw only 12 passes in three years and will likely spend his senior year in Boulder at receiver and on special teams.
Zach Maynard (Buffalo to California) – Maynard spent two seasons in Buffalo, with one of those as the starter. During his two years at Buffalo, Maynard threw for 2,701 yards and 18 scores, while tossing 15 interceptions. He also rushed for 356 yards. California has struggled to find consistent quarterback play over the last couple of seasons, which Jeff Tedford hopes will change with Maynard. The junior finished spring practice atop the depth chart and his dual-threat ability will add a new dimension to Tedford’s offense.
Russell Wilson (NC State to Wisconsin) – Wilson is arguably the most highly-sought after transfer on this list. In three years at NC State, Wilson threw for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns, while adding 1,083 yards and 17 scores on the ground. The senior did not participate in spring practice due to minor league baseball, which led NC State to commit to Mike Glennon as its starting quarterback for 2011. With Glennon entrenched as the starter, Wilson decided to transfer to Wisconsin. With Wilson landing in Madison, the Badgers are the favorites to win the Big Ten's Leaders Division.
Other - Jordan Luallen (Georgia Tech to Cincinnati)
Dontae Aycock (Auburn to South Florida) – Aycock has yet to play a snap in college, but is expected to figure into the South Florida running back rotation this year. Aycock was a member of the Rivals250 coming out of high school and will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Ryan Bass (Arizona State to Idaho) – The Vandals finished 118th nationally in rushing offense last year, and the Idaho coaches hope the addition of Bass can provide some punch to the ground attack. In two years at Arizona State, Bass only managed 293 yards and one score. However, Bass was a highly-regarded prospect out of Centennial High School in California and should have a chance to start this year.
Bryce Brown (Tennessee to Kansas State) – Brown was regarded as one of the top recruits from the 2009 recruiting class, but failed to make much of an impact in one season at Tennessee. His best performance as a freshman in 2009 came against Western Kentucky, rushing for 104 yards. Overall, Brown totaled 460 yards and three scores at Tennessee. Brown played his high school ball in Kansas and considered Kansas State before deciding on the Volunteers. With Daniel Thomas out of eligibility, Brown has a clear path to the starting job this year and his play could be the difference for a winning season in Manhattan.
Zach Brown (Wisconsin to Pittsburgh) – With Montee Ball and James White locked in as Wisconsin’s top two backs, Brown decided to transfer for more playing time in his senior year. Brown had over 1,000 yards in 36 games at Wisconsin and will team with Ray Graham to form one of the Big East's top rushing attacks.
Darrell Scott (Colorado to South Florida) – Scott was a huge catch for Colorado, ranking as the No. 3 overall prospect in the 2008 Athlon Consensus 100. However, things didn’t work out in Boulder and after accumulating 438 yards in two years, Scott made the move to South Florida. The Bulls ranked 71st nationally in rushing offense last season and will be relying on Scott to live up to his potential in 2011.
Beau Blankenship (Iowa State to Ohio)
Washaun Ealey (Georgia to Jacksonville State - FCS)
Josh Haden (Boston College to Toledo)
Milton Knox (UCLA to Fresno State)
Devon Brown (Wake Forest to West Virginia) – Brown is eligible immediately after transferring from Wake Forest at the end of 2010. With Dana Holgorsen’s pass-first offense coming to Morgantown, the Mountaineers could use a few more receivers. Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Ivan McCartney, Brad Starks and Tyler Urban appear to be the top five, but considering Brown’s experience at Wake Forest (110 receptions), he is a candidate to work his way into significant playing time.
Dan Buckner (Texas to Arizona) – Buckner transferred from Texas after a promising sophomore year, catching 45 passes for 442 yards and four scores. The Wildcats already return their top four statistical receivers from last season, and Buckner’s arrival should make this one of the deepest groups in the Pac-12. Expect Buckner to earn a spot in the starting lineup.
Shaquelle Evans (Notre Dame to UCLA) – Evans ranked as one of the top 100 prospects by Athlon in the 2009 recruiting class, but only caught seven passes in one year at Notre Dame. The Bruins have two solid receivers returning in Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree, but Evans could work his way into the mix as the No. 3 or No. 4 option.
Lamaar Thomas (Ohio State to New Mexico) – Thomas ranked as the No. 4 athlete by Rivals in the 2008 recruiting class and bolted to New Mexico after two years in Columbus. Mike Locksley has had no trouble accumulating talent in Albuquerque, but needs to produce in the win column to stick around for another year. Thomas is expected to start in 2011, but the Lobos have to get better quarterback play for him to make an impact.
Spencer Boyd (Notre Dame to South Florida)
Brandon Clear (Clemson to Illinois)
Adrian Coxson (Florida to Maryland)
Deon Long (West Virginia to New Mexico)
Cordale Scott (Illinois to Toledo)
Blake Ayles (USC to Miami) – Ayles ranked as the No. 15 prospect in the 2008 Athlon Consensus 100 and it’s safe to say he hasn’t lived up to the hype. In three years at USC, Ayles only caught 14 passes for 182 yards and one score. Miami is thin on experience at tight end and new coordinator Jedd Fisch wants to use a lot of two-tight-end sets. Look for Ayles to factor into the starting lineup this season.
Hubie Graham (Illinois to Pittsburgh)
Jordan Najvar (Stanford to Baylor)
Tony Trahan (Rutgers to Texas Tech)
Alex Bullard (Notre Dame to Tennessee) – Granted waiver for immediate eligibility in 2011. Should figure into Tennessee’s line rotation this year.
Matt Hall (Arkansas to Ole Miss) – A massive 6-foot-9 lineman that is expected to start at right guard in 2011. Ole Miss has a solid line returning, but Hall’s emergence could make this one of the top groups in the SEC.
Dan Wenger (Notre Dame to Florida) – Wenger played at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis and after sitting out last year due to concussions, was granted a sixth-year of eligibility for 2011. The line struggled in the spring, which could leave the door open for Wenger to compete for playing time at center in the fall.
John Prior (Florida State to Ohio)
Matt Romine (Notre Dame to Tulsa)
Cordian Hagans (LSU to UL Lafayette) – Did not play in two years at LSU, but finished spring practice listed as a starter at defensive tackle.
Chris Martin (California to ?) – Martin ranked as the No. 19 overall prospect in the 2010 Athlon Consensus 100, but decided to transfer without playing a down in Berkeley. After spending one year at Florida, Martin decided to transfer elsewhere and won't be eligible to play at a FBS school until 2012.
Brandon Willis (UCLA to North Carolina) – Willis transferred to UCLA from North Carolina last season, but decided to head back to Chapel Hill this spring. Willis is appealing for immediate eligibility due to a family situation. If granted the waiver, Willis would have a chance to earn playing time in the interior of one of the ACC's top defensive lines.
Hebron Fangupo (DT) (USC to BYU)
Anthony La Lota (DE) (Michigan to Rutgers)
Oren Wilson (DT) (Michigan State to Akron)
Brendan Beal (Florida to Minnesota) – Beal was a Parade All-American coming out of high school, but did not make an impact at Florida due to an ACL injury. Considering Minnesota was one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten last year, Beal will have a chance to play immediately. If Beal lives up to the hype, the Gophers could have a solid trio of linebackers with Gary Tinsley and Mike Rallis returning.
Arthur Brown (Miami to Kansas State) – Just like his brother Bryce, Arthur was regarded as one of the top prospects in the nation coming out of high school. However, in two years at Miami, Brown failed to make an impact. The junior impressed on the scout team last year and was one of the top performers in spring practice. Expect Brown to start this year and his play will be critical for a defense that struggled to stop the run last year.
Jarvis Jones (USC to Georgia) – The second year under coordinator Todd Grantham and the 3-4 defense should provide some improvement for Georgia. Jones is also one of the reasons for hope, especially with three new starters in the linebacking corps. He transferred from USC after not receiving medical clearance from a neck injury, but was regarded as one of the top defenders in the 2009 recruiting class. Jones is expected to be one of the defense’s top pass-rushing threats from the outside, helping to ease the loss of Justin Houston to the NFL.
Uona Kaveinga (USC to BYU) – Kaveinga ranked among the top 150 prospects by ESPN out of high school, but played sparingly in two years at USC. Kaveinga is expected to start this year and the Cougars need him to emerge, especially with two new starters in the linebacking corps.
Brandon Maye (Clemson to Mississippi State) – The Bulldogs lose all three linebacker starters from last season, which makes Maye’s transfer even more important. He started eight games at Clemson last year and registered 43 tackles. Maye’s experience and leadership should pay dividends for a new group of linebackers this year.
Darius Willis (Buffalo to Kansas) – Willis followed head coach Turner Gill after he took the job at Kansas. The Jayhawks are counting on the sophomore to help upgrade the speed and athleticism in the linebacking corps, but he has limited playing experience from his time at Buffalo.
Javarie Johnson (Maryland to New Mexico)
Jelani Smith (Arkansas to UL Lafayette)
Shiloah Te’o (BYU to Oregon State)
Dionte Allen (Florida State to Ohio State) – The Seminoles had high hopes for Allen, but he transferred after participating in 14 games from 2008-2009. The Buckeyes must replace both starting cornerbacks this year, which should give Allen an opportunity to figure into the rotation.
Makiri Pugh (Georgia to Colorado) – Cornerback is a significant position of need for Colorado this year, but with Anthony Perkins, Terrel Smith and Ray Polk returning, safety should be in good shape. Pugh played in nine games in 2009 at Georgia, but has some work to do if he wants to see significant playing time at Colorado in 2011.
Corbin Brown (Air Force to UNLV)
Fig James (Cincinnati to Nevada)
Abdul Smith (Rutgers to Temple)
Courtney Viney (UCLA to ?)